Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli is one of the greatest interpreters in piano history. Critics consider him one of the most well known and admired pianists of XX Century, thanks to the unicity of his touch and his refined interpretation of music.

He was born on 5 January 1920 in Brescia. He started studying music there at the age of four, in the Musical Institute «A. Venturi», under the guidance of the composer Paolo Chimeri. He ended his studies with a graduation in the conservatory “G. Verdi” in Milan, at the age of fourteen.

The debut

His talent took flight thanks to the International Competition of Geneve, where he won first place. Alfred Cortot was amazed and uttered: «A new Liszt was born». After the success of Geneve, thanks to his wide reputation, he was offered the chair in the Conservatory of Bologna. Martha Argerich, Maurizio Pollini and Ludovico Lessona stand out among his best students.

Michelangeli experienced hard times with the beginning of the war: all the conservatories were closed and therefore the possibility of a career abroad as well.

The artistic maturity

His international career began in 1946, where he debuted in the city of London, and reached later more international stages such as in the USA, in Canada and in Latin America. He also created the Arezzo and Bolzano masterclasses, joined by young performers from all over the world. In 1955 he was invited to be part of the jury of the prestigious Piano Competition “F. Chopin” in Warsaw.

Towards the end of the ‘60s, due to financial problems, Michelangeli left Italy and moved to Switzerland, where he continued to practice his art and started a long collaboration with the record company Deutsche Grammophon, which created amazing recordings.

In June 1980 he came back to Italy after his exile, on occasion of the concert in the Teatro Grande of Brescia, in memory of the Pope Paolo VI; this would be his last concert in Italy.

The last years

Eight years later, during a concert in Bordeaux, he had a heart attack, from which he recovered only after one year. Many of his last years of life performances stand out: the amazing concerts in Brema in 1989 and 1990, and those in Monaco, where he collaborated with Sergiu Celibidache, followed by the intense tour in Japan in 1992. Finally, the recital in Hamburg on 7 May 1993, which marked the last show in public of the artist.

Michelangeli passed away on 12 June 1995 in Lugano.