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Martha Argerich | Claudio Abbado: Bio

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 has close ties with DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON, dating back to 1967. She has recorded prolifically during this period: solo works by Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt and Schumann; concerto recordings of works by Chopin, Liszt, Ravel and Prokofiev with Claudio Abbado, Beethoven with Giuseppe Sinopoli, and Stravinsky's Les Noces with Leonard Bernstein. Her recording of Shostakovich's First and Haydn's Eleventh Piano Concertos with the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn conducted by Jörg Färber was crowned with the Tokyo RECORD ACADEMY AWARD in 1995 and that of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded the CD COMPACT AWARD in 1997. 

She has also dedicated herself to chamber music, and has recorded works by Schumann and Chopin with Mstislav Rostropovich, and cello sonatas by both Bach and Beethoven with Mischa Maisky. She has made numerous successful recordings with Gidon Kremer, such as violin sonatas by Schumann and works by Bartók, Janácek and Messiaen (PRIX CAECILIA 1991), and Mendelssohn's concerto for violin and piano with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Their recording of Prokofiev sonatas and melodies received the 1992 Tokyo RECORD ACADEMY AWARD, the DIAPASON D'OR 1992 and the EDISON AWARD 1993. One of their most outstanding recording achievements was that of the complete Beethoven violin sonatas (Nos.1-3: RECORD ACADEMY AWARD 1985), which was concluded with the release of the Sonatas op. 47 "Kreutzer" and op. 96 in 1995. Among her more recent releases is the above-mentioned live recording of piano trios by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky with Mischa Maisky and Gidon Kremer. 

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. 

 

Claudio Abbado studied the piano with his father Michelangelo Abbado at the Milan Conservatory, as well as conducting and composition. After leaving the Conservatory in 1955 he went on to study conducting with Hans Swarowsky at the Vienna Academy of Music. Throughout this period he was active as a singer in choirs, a key experience. In 1958 he won the Koussevitzky Conducting Competition at Tanglewood in the USA. He worked at the Parma Conservatory before making his début at La Scala, Milan in 1960 as part of the Scarlatti tercentenary celebrations. In 1963 he won the first prize in the Mitropoulos Conducting Competition in New York, an event that proved to be a major turning point in the development of his career. Herbert von Karajan offered him the opportunity to conduct at the Salzburg Festival and in 1965 he made his début there with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducting Gustav Mahler's Symphony No 2 ‘Resurrection'.

Following his Salzburg début Abbado conducted in the same year the world première of Manzoni's opera Atomtod at La Scala. In 1966 he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time, and a year later he made his début in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's distinguished subscription concert series in Vienna. In 1967 he was also given the honour of opening the season at La Scala, Milan, conducting a new production of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi. In 1968 his career moved ahead decisively: he returned to the Salzburg Festival to conduct Il barbiere di Siviglia and was appointed chief conductor at La Scala, a post he held until 1986.

At La Scala Abbado conducted both the traditional operatic repertoire as well as contemporary works, and founded the Orchestra della Scala for the presentation of a series of orchestral concerts. Working closely with illustrious contemporaries including the composer Luigi Nono, the stage director Giorgio Strehler, and the pianist Maurizio Pollini, he introduced many innovations such as public rehearsals, and factory and educational concerts. In so doing Abbado not only developed the repertoire of La Scala, he also considerably extended the public which it served. In 1975 he conducted the first performance of Nono's opera Al gran sole carico d'amore, and in 1988 the première of Wolfgang Rihm's Die Abreise.

In 1979 Abbado was appointed chief conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra with whom he made a number of distinguished recordings, including a complete cycle of the symphonies of Mendelssohn. Between 1986 and 1991 he was chief conductor of the Vienna State Opera. As in Milan, so here too he enriched the repertory considerably, with productions of Schubert'sFierrabras, Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims and Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina. In 1987 he was appointed general music director of the City of Vienna, and the following year he founded the music festival Wien Modern, an annual event that expanded to encompass all aspects of contemporary cultural activity.

In 1989 Abbado's career took a further decisive step forward when he succeeded Herbert von Karajan as the music director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, a post that he held until the end of the 2001–2002 concert season. As with his previous appointments in Milan and Vienna, Abbado brought new ideas to Berlin. In the planning of concert programmes contemporary music assumed a major position alongside the Classical and Romantic repertoire. Annual thematic cycles were developed in which a single theme was examined in depth: for example, the legend of Faust, the influence of Greek antiquity, and Shakespeare in music. With the cellist Natalia Gutman he inaugurated the Berliner Begegnungen (‘Berlin Encounters'), as part of the annual Berlin Festival, where experienced musicians worked with young instrumentalists in both classical and contemporary chamber music works.

Abbado has always taken a keen interest in music education. He has been responsible for the foundation of two major youth orchestras, the European Union Youth Orchestra and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. He has also been closely involved with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, acting as its artistic adviser. Following the creation of an international composers' competition in Vienna, he expanded the Salzburg Easter Festival, of which he became artistic director in 1994, to include prizes for composition as well as for the visual arts and literature. He has been awarded numerous honours including the Bundesverdienstkreuz, Federal Germany's highest civilian honour, the Légion d'honneur from the French Ministry of Culture, and the Gran Croce, Italy's highest honour. In 1973 the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra awarded him its Ring of Honour, followed by the Golden Nicolai Medal in 1980. In 1985 the International Gustav Mahler Society presented him with its gold medal in recognition of his service to the music of Gustav Mahler.

Claudio Abbado was without question one of the major conductors to have emerged following the earlier generation of maestri epitomised by Karajan and Furtwängler. Like them, he was equally at home in the pit of the opera house and on the podium of the concert hall. His interpretations are notable for their acute fidelity to the score, combined with an animated vitality that gives them a great sense of life. He possessed a keen musical sensibility, and used this to develop imaginative programme concepts that take account of neglected repertoire as well as the established canon of masterpieces. His recorded repertoire is very large and includes cycles of the symphonic works of Beethoven, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Ravel and Tchaikovsky. His operatic recordings include outstanding readings of several of the major Verdi works, including Don Carlos, Macbeth, Simon Boccanegra, Un ballo in maschera and Aida, as well as landmark accounts of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina and Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims. Abbado's concern for stylistic fidelity and for instrumental accuracy have occasionally made his interpretations seem less highly-drawn than those of his immediate predecessors and more flamboyant contemporaries, yet his intense musicality and precise musical observation have also resulted in performances of the greatest conviction, especially in the field of opera, where he is undoubtedly one of the finest conductors of the twentieth century.

Martha Argerich | Claudio Abbado

Mozart Piano Concertos

Deutsche Grammophon

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1 Mozart: Piano Concerto No.25 in C, K.503 / Allegro maestoso
2 Andante
3 Allegretto
4 Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, K.466 / Allegro
5 Romance
6 Rondo
Martha Argerich - Bloody Daughter (Documentary)
Claudio Abbado "Happy 80th Birthday

Featuring the beloved musical partnership of pianist Martha Argerich and the legendary late conductor, Claudio Abbado, Deutsche Grammophone releases two of Mozart's most spectacular piano concertos, No. 25 and No. 20. Ten years since their last recording together, Argerich and Abbado recorded this newly released album live at the 2013 Lucerne Festival. Mozart enjoyed experimenting with the piano concerto and during 1784 and 1786, the twelve he composed broke new musical ground. The Concertos in C major, K 503 (No. 25), and D minor, K 466 (No. 20), represent two contrasting milestones of this creative phase. Never released for publication, Mozart preferred to keep these concertos for a small circle of "music-lovers and connoisseurs" as shared in one of his letters. 

19 New 'ON'  59 TOTAL
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Online: MusiClassical, WGOE  

Crossover Media Projects with: Martha Argerich | Claudio Abbado