|Born||5 June 1941|
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Martha Argerich (Eastern Catalan pronunciation: [ˈmaɾta əɾʒəˈɾik]; Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmaɾta aɾxeˈɾitʃ]; born 5 June 1941) is an Argentine-Swiss classical concert pianist. She is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of all time.
Argerich was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her paternal ancestors were Spaniards from Catalonia based in Buenos Aires since the 18th century. Her maternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire, who settled in Colonia Villa Clara in Argentina's Entre Ríos province, one of the colonies established by Baron de Hirsch and the Jewish Colonization Association. The provenance of the name Argerich is Catalonia.
A precocious child, Argerich began kindergarten at the age of two years and eight months, where she was the youngest child. A five-year-old boy, who was a friend, teased her that she would not be able to play the piano, and Argerich responded by playing perfectly, by ear, a piece their teacher played them. The teacher immediately called the mother and they "started making a fuss." She started learning the piano at the age of three. At the age of five, she moved to teacher Vincenzo Scaramuzza, who stressed to her the importance of lyricism and feeling. Argerich gave her debut concert in 1949 at the age of eight. The family moved to Europe in 1955, where Argerich studied with Friedrich Gulda in Austria, whom Argerich describes as one of her major influences. She later studied with Stefan Askenase and Maria Curcio. Argerich also seized opportunities for brief periods of coaching with Madeleine Lipatti (widow of Dinu Lipatti), Abbey Simon, and Nikita Magaloff. In 1957, at sixteen, she won both the Geneva International Music Competition and the Ferruccio Busoni International Competition within three weeks of each other. [n 1]
Following this success, Argerich had a personal and artistic crisis; she did not play the piano for three years and considered giving it up to train as a secretary or doctor. She credited Anny Askenase, the wife of Stefan Askenase, with encouraging her to return to the piano. Following her return, Argerich won the prestigious VII International Chopin Piano Competition in 1965.
Argerich performed her debut concert at the age of 8, playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor and Beethoven's First Piano Concerto in C major. Argerich gained international prominence when she won the VII International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1965, at age 24. In that same year, she debuted in the United States in Lincoln Center's Great Performers Series. In 1960, she had made her first commercial recording, which included works by Chopin, Brahms, Ravel, Prokofiev, and Liszt; it received critical acclaim upon its release in 1961. She has since recorded works by composers including Ginastera, Rachmaninoff and Schumann, whom she describes feeling a particular connection to.
Argerich has often remarked in interviews of feeling "lonely" on stage during solo performances. Since the 1980s, she has staged few solo performances, concentrating instead on concertos and, in particular, chamber music, and collaborating with instrumentalists in sonatas.
Argerich has also promoted younger pianists, both through her annual festival and through her appearances as a member of the jury at international competitions. The pianist Ivo Pogorelić was thrust into the musical spotlight partly as a result of Argerich's actions: after he was eliminated in the third round of the 1980 International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Argerich proclaimed him a genius and left the jury in protest. She has supported several artists including Gabriela Montero, Mauricio Vallina, Sergio Tiempo, Roberto Carnevale, Gabriele Baldocci, Christopher Falzone and others.
Argerich is the president of the International Piano Academy Lake Como and performs annually at the Lugano Festival. She has also created and been a General Director of the Argerich Music Festival and Encounter in Beppu, Japan, since 1996.
Her aversion to the press and publicity has resulted in her remaining out of the limelight for most of her career. Nevertheless, she is widely recognized as one of the greatest pianists in history. Her performance of Liszt's First Piano Concerto conducted by Daniel Barenboim at The Proms 2016 prompted this review in The Guardian: "It was an unforgettable performance. Argerich celebrated her 75th birthday in June this year, but that news doesn’t seem to have reached her fingers. Her playing is still as dazzling, as frighteningly precise, as it has always been; her ability to spin gossamer threads of melody as matchless as ever. This was unmistakably and unashamedly Liszt in the grand manner, a bit old-fashioned and sometimes even a bit vulgar at times, but in this of all concertos, with Barenboim and the orchestra following each twist and turn, every little quickening and moment of expressive reflection, it seemed entirely appropriate". Argerich returned to the Proms at the age of 78 in 2019 to perform Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto under the baton of Barenboim, a performance described as "mesmerizing".
|You may hear Martha Argerich performing Johann Sebastian Bach's Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826 Here on archive.org|
Argerich has been married two times. Her first marriage, to composer-conductor Robert Chen (Chinese: 陈亮声; pinyin: Chén Liàngshēng) and with whom she had a daughter, violinist Lyda Chen-Argerich, ended in 1964. From 1969 to 1973, Argerich was married to Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit, with whom she had a daughter, Annie Dutoit. Argerich continues to record and perform with Dutoit. In the 1970s, she had a relationship with pianist Stephen Kovacevich, with whom she has a daughter, Stéphanie. Although they made few recordings together during their relationship, Argerich and Kovacevich still frequently perform together. In her film Bloody Daughter, Stéphanie Argerich explains that as her parents were not married they tossed a coin to name their daughter and Argerich won the toss.
Argerich is a polyglot and has lived in Belgium, Switzerland (where she has citizenship) and France.
In 1990, Argerich was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. After treatment, the cancer went into remission, but there was a recurrence in 1995, eventually metastasizing to her lungs and lymph nodes. Following an experimental treatment at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica pioneered by oncologist Donald Morton, Argerich's cancer went into remission again. In gratitude, Argerich performed a Carnegie Hall recital benefiting the institute. As of 2020[update], Argerich remained cancer-free.
In 2002, director Georges Gachotreleased Martha Argerich, conversation nocturne (Martha Argerich, Evening Talks), a documentary film about Argerich. Stéphanie Argerich Blagojevic directed a documentary film about her mother, Bloody Daughter, based on film shot since her childhood.