From friendship to illness

Dinu Lipatti became Dr Henri Dubois-Ferrière’s patient in 1947.

The doctor and the musician, each in his own way, fought against a common foe: leukaemia. Henri Dubois-Ferrière’s weapons of choice were science, perseverance, courage and humour. Dinu Lipatti relied on his musical genius – and the cortisone that his doctor administered. A lasting friendship was born.

“It would take pages and pages to tell how deeply these two men came to understand and love each other, like brothers,” wrote Madeleine Lipatti.

Their determination allowed Lipatti to enjoy a final remission, during which he completed one of the most beautiful recordings of the 20th century. The two friends died of the same disease, twenty years apart. But together they created an enduring music of hope.

It was to share that hope with patients and their families and caregivers, that Madeleine Lipatti and the family and friends of Henri Dubois-Ferrière established the Foundation.

Dinu Lipatti

An exceptional musician and pianist

Dinu Lipatti was born in Bucharest on March 19th, 1917. Music was his only school. Several teachers played an important part in his life. The first was Florica Musicescu, who him taught piano at the Bucharest Conservatory of Music. Alfred Cortot then invited him to Paris, where he studied orchestral conducting with Charles Münch, and composition with Paul Dukas and Nadia Boulanger.

Forced to return to Romania after the outbreak of the war, he left again in 1943 with his wife-to-be, Madeleine. They settled in Geneva, where he quickly established his reputation as a pianist and professor at the Conservatory of Geneva. He was already sick with leukaemia at the time and had to give up touring due to fatigue. Nevertheless, in spite of his declining health, he made several recordings in London between 1946 and 1948.

The cortisone treatment he began in 1950 brought about a remission lasting several months. This reprieve allowed him to record his musical testament, on the Steinway he had always dreamed of, which was presented to him by a group of friends at the instigation of Henri Dubois-Ferrière. On 16 September 1950, though seriously ill, he gave his last public performance at the Besançon Festival. He died in Geneva on 2 December of the same year.

Dr Henri Dubois-Ferrière

A researcher and man of heart

Born on 20 March 1912, Henri Dubois-Ferrière was a pioneer of haematology in Switzerland. As early as 1938, he understood the essential function of plasmocytes in the immune system. In 1950, he started using cortisone to treat leukaemia, the first doctor in Europe to do so.

His personality and his work inspired his friends to help him establish a Research Centre for Blood Diseases in 1958.

Dr Dubois-Ferrière gained international recognition as an expert in corticotherapy and chemotherapy, which were revolutionary treatments at that time, and he was frequently consulted by colleagues from all over the world. A member of many scientific societies, he co-founded of the Swiss Haematological Society and served as its chairman for several years.

In 1969, he helped set up the first haematology department and a research unit at the Geneva University Hospitals. However he was already seriously ill, and unfortunately did not live to see the project completed. On 8 July 1970, he succumbed to the disease he had helped so many patients fight, and fought himself for so many years.