There are few artists in the world that become a legend while alive. Martha Argerich is one of those rare pianists to have raised her art to dazzling heights. The exemplary story begins in her native Argentina, where from the age of two and a half years, her precocious talent for the piano is identified. When she comes to Europe to continue her musical education, she has already performed on stage at the Teatro Colón. She retains the excellence of her outstanding play, full of ardor and sensitivity, from a long tradition of musicians including the famous Nikita Magaloff (friend of Prokofiev), Friedrich Gulda or Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. Martha Argerich won the Geneva Competition at the age of 16 years and three prizes at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw.
All mapped out, her great career will however be like no other. Fiercely free, she has a reputation to never sign a contract and admirers still have painful memories of the long years in which she moved away from the scene. The recitals became a challenge for the artist who suffered from too much solitude, after which she decided in 1980 to only play either when accompanied by an orchestra, or surrounded by her friends such as Nelson Freire, Misha Maisky or Gidon Kremer . The most incredible is that even today, even though the orchestral repertoire is less bountiful than before, the great pianist Martha Argerich has lost none of her skills or talent. Each concert is a suspended moment, stolen from eternity.
Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires. From the age of five, she took piano lessons with Vicenzo Scaramuzza. In 1955 she went to Europe with her family, and received tuition from Friedrich Gulda in Vienna; her teachers also included Nikita Magaloff and Stefan Askenase. Following her first prizes in the piano competitions in Bolzano and Geneva in 1957, she embarked on an intensive programme of concerts. Her victory in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1965 was a decisive step on her path to worldwide recognition.
Martha Argerich rose to fame with her interpretations of the virtuoso piano literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. But she does not regard herself as a specialist in "virtuoso" works - her repertoire ranges from Bach through Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy and Ravel, to Bartók.
Martha Argerich has worked as a concert pianist with many famous conductors. She has also attached great importance to chamber music ever since, at the age of 17, she accompanied the violinist Joseph Szigeti - two generations older than herself. She has toured Europe, America and Japan with Gidon Kremer and Mischa Maisky and has also recorded much of the repertory for four hands and for two pianos with the pianists Nelson Freire, Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich, Nicolas Economou and Alexandre Rabinovitch. Martha Argerich has performed at Gidon Kremer's festival in Lockenhaus, at the Munich Piano Summer, the Lucerne Festival and at the Salzburg Festival, where she gave, for instance, a recital with Mischa Maisky in 1993.
She appeared with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic at the 1992 New Year's Eve Concert with Strauss's Burleske and also at the Salzburg Festival at Easter 1993. May 1998 saw the long-awaited musical "summit meeting" between Martha Argerich, Mischa Maisky and Gidon Kremer. On the occasion of a memorial concert for the impresario Reinhard Paulsen, the three artists came together in Japan, where they performed piano trios by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky (recorded live by DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON). In March 2000 Martha Argerich gave her first great solo appearance in almost 20 years in New York's Carnegie Hall.
Martha Argerich takes a great supportive interest in young artists. In September 1999 the first International "Martha Argerich" Piano Competition took place in Buenos Aires - a competition which does not only carry her name but in which she is president of the jury. In November 1999 the second "Martha Argerich Music Festival" took place in southern Japan, with concerts and masterclasses being given not only by Martha Argerich but also by Mischa Maisky and Nelson Freire among others.