Martha Argerich

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Martha Argerich
Martha Argerich

Martha Argerich (born June 5, 1941) is a pianist of Argentinian origin.

Argerich was born in Buenos Aires, and initially studied with her mother who was a piano teacher. She gave her debut concert at the age of eight, playing a concerto by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The family moved to Europe in 1955, and Argerich studied with Friedrich Gulda in Switzerland. She later studied with Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Stefan Askenase. In 1957, she won two major piano competitions in Geneva and Bolzano within a few weeks, and her career as a professional pianist was launched.

Argerich took the musical world by storm in 1965 at the International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. One of her performances in that winning campaign was a defiantly confident reading of Chopin's Etude, op. 10 no. 1 in C major, a piece that Vladimir Horowitz famously refused to perform live. In the same year, she made her first recording, including works by Fr餩ric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel, Sergei Prokofiev, and Franz Liszt. A few years later she recorded Chopin's Sonata no. 3, Polonaise, op. 53, and other short works. Her technique is considered amongst the most formidable of her time, inviting comparison with Vladimir Horowitz. Indeed, her early recordings (made at age 19) of such competition mainstays as the Prokofiev Toccata and Liszt's Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody remain yardsticks for these works. Although she has been criticised over her often exaggerated dynamics and tempi, her playing is characterised by her passionate and unique sound.

Martha Argerich has often remarked in interviews of feeling "lonely" on stage during solo performances. As of the 1980s she has not played much solo concerts anymore, instead focusing on concertos and, in particular, chamber music, and accompanying instrumentalists in sonatas. She is noted especially for her recordings of 20th century works by composers such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Olivier Messiaen and Sergei Prokofiev, a notable record pairing Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. From 1969 to 1973, Argerich was married to conductor Charles Dutoit, with whom she continues to record and perform.

Argerich has been tireless in promoting younger pianists, through her annual festival, and does frequently appear as member of the jury of important competitions.

Awards and Recognitions

Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance:

Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra)


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