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Stricken today as I learn of Maurizio Pollini's death.

I haven't attended many great piano recitals--certainly not since childhood (Horowitz repeatedly and Rubinstein once--sitting on the stage, but these were all my mother's doing). One that I did attend as an adult was given by Pollini at Carnegie Hall in the 90s. By the time I learned about it, the day had arrived and the concert was long since sold out.  I somehow felt compelled to rush to the theater to see if I could get in. (I mostly reserve this kind of impulse for ballet.) And I did get in. I haven't been able to confirm exactly what the program was, but my memory is that it offered something an education for the ears--Chopin to Liszt to Boulez--so that by the time you got to the Boulez you had been, in a sense, aurally prepared for it. Anyway - it was an enthralling performance!

May he rest in peace...


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I once heard Maurizio Pollini do a crazy program at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles – the Diabelli Variations of Beethoven, an intense world of their own, and Stockhausen's Klavierstück X, for which Pollini came out in shirtsleeves, which allowed him to play at times with arms and fists. A few people left for the second half but there was lots of pretty passionate applause at the end, enough that he played Schoenberg's Six Little Piano Pieces for an encore. Pollini's father, Gino Pollini, was an architect and member of the Italian Rationalists – a great, slightly underappreciated modernist movement which had a kind of Diabelli-like rigor to it. All part of a disappearing world.

Edited by Quiggin
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Thank you both for posting. I hadn't heard.

  Byron Janis also died last week, aged 95.


At the height of his career, in the 1950s and 1960s, he was known for the tremendous sound and colorful sonorities he drew from the piano, and for a freewheeling interpretive approach that sometimes led him to bypass composers’ expressive markings when they were at odds with his conception.

Obituary for Pollini in The Guardian.


It was also in the 60s that music and politics first became intertwined in Pollini’s career. A friendship with a fellow-student, Claudio Abbado, a like-minded leftwing idealist, led them to seek radical ways of bringing classical music to factory workers, including a cycle of concerts at La Scala for employees and students. Another friendship, with the Marxist avant garde composer Luigi Nono, was equally important, resulting in the commission of two pieces for Pollini, including one for piano, voice and tapes, commemorating an assassinated Chilean revolutionary. Pollini’s radical outlook remained with him throughout his career, as did his intellectual approach to art and life.


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That's sad news about both of them.

I was able to hear Janis play at the renovated Pantages Theater in Tacoma, Washington, south of Seattle.  It was a wonderful concert.

I heard Pollini several times in NYC, during a time when I expected to live there forever and took it for granted that I would show up to the piano series and hear a brilliant concert.

May they both rest in peace.

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