Martha Argerich - The Legend Returns

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After appearing in Singapore for the first time in the 25th Singapore International Piano Festival, Martha Argerich was set to return once again with a series of three concerts, held at Esplanade Concert Hall and Victoria Concert Hall on 6, 7, and 9 June 2019.

While initial notice of the concerts was given to subscribers of SSO on 9 April, ticket sales only opened 2 days later on 11 April at 10AM, where people (including myself) scrambled to purchase tickets for an opportunity to see Martha Argerich live in concert before the tickets sold out.

As of 30th May onward, however, Argerich cancelled her three concerts due to health-related reasons. In light of this, today’s blog post takes a closer look at the life of Martha Argerich.

It is common knowledge that Argerich won first prize in the 7th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw held in 1965. However, less known is the fact that just prior to that, she fell into a depression and even thought about leaving music altogether. Despite the sheer bravado and unbound virtuosity she exudes on stage, Martha Argerich lives a life far more normal than what one might expect.

At just 16 years old, she won two piano competitions held within a few weeks of each other when she was just 16 years old - the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition, a music competition held in Bolzano, Italy for young pianists, where she played Prokofiev's Toccata in D minor, and the Geneva International Music Competition (do read till the bottom for links to recordings of her playing during these competitions!).

Her victory at these two competitions quickly propelled her into a life of travel where she performed in a series of concerts and received numerous critical accolades; something she later confessed she felt ill-prepared for. Surely enough, she soon sought ought legendary Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michaelangeli for lessons, known for his note-perfect performances, and who also won the very first Geneva International Music Competition. However, he only taught the twenty-year old Argerich four times over eighteen months, after which she went to New York, attempting to meet her idol Vladmir Horowitz but to no avail.

 At the age of 21, Martha Argerich then suffered a crippling bout of depression that lasted over two years, stating in an interview with the New York Times in 2000 that she didn't do anything aside from "[sitting] in an apartment watching the late night show", feeling as if she was no longer able to play. Eventually, she was able to return to the performing scene with encouragement from Stephan Askenase and his wife, winning the 1965 International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition which led to her international fame, and placing her in the world spotlight as we know her today.

 

 Although Martha Argerich has postponed her concerts to unconfirmed later dates, you can still listen to her here, via the following links!

Martha Argerich playing Sergei Prokofiev’s Toccata in D minor at the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition in 1957:

 

To commemorate 75 years of the Geneva International Music Competition, Claves Records officially released a recording of Martha Argerich playing the first movement of Robert Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54:




And finally, this link lists multiple recordings by Martha Argerich, each reflecting a different aspect of the brilliance in her playing:

https://blog.idagio.com/martha-argerich-the-prodigal-pianist-ae1d9b47253d

Play on And Tinkle Away!!