"It is not a profession to be a pianist and musician. It is a philosophy, a conception of life that cannot be based on good intentions or natural talent. First and foremost there must be a spirit of sacrifice."
-Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
Today's pianist: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
Born: January 5, 1920 in Brescia, Italy
Died: June 12, 1995 in Lugano, Italy
About the man: Michelangeli began his musical training at the age of four, and at fourteen he launched his concert career. At age 19 he won the first prize of the prestigious Geneva International Competition. His importance as a towering figure among 20th-century pianists was coined by pianist Cortot's saying"Here is a new Liszt." Along with performing, Michelangeli dedicated himself "with great enthusiasm" to his teaching activities. He is the only Italian pianist of his century (until Pollini) to achieve an international reputation.
Characteristics of his playing: Schonberg puts Michelangeli in the same class as Horowitz and Richter as "one of the great colorists." He is a legend as a "playing machine," and some of his colleagues put him in the Horowitz class as a "super-virtuoso." (Schonberg, p. 461). Schonberg says, "Some of his playing is startling in its sheer pianistic polish and perfection. His fingers can no more hit a wrong note or smudge a passage than a bullet can be veered off course once it has been fired...[He is a] complete master of tonal application, as evidenced in his performance of Gaspard de la nuit...The puzzling part about him [is that] in many pieces of the romantic repertoire he seems unsure of himself emotionally, and his otherwise direct playing is then laden with expressive devices that disturb the musical flow."
Repertoire: Debussy, Ravel, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt