Piano Street Magazine

“We humans need music” – Martha Argerich at 80 – Ever Totally Irresistible

June 23rd, 2021 in Piano News by | 8 comments

Noticed everywhere and named one of the greatest pianists of our time, Martha Argerich turned 80 on June 5. When hearing Argerich play, philosopher and musicologist Theodor W Adorno’s words instantly come to mind: “The most difficult should sound easy and effortless, overcoming all obstacles to return to a liberated game.”

UNIQUE INTERVIEW: Martha Argerich: in her own words (2019)

Listen to an interveiew published by Argerich Vault in honor of the living legend’s 80th birthday.

Did you know?

    • Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires and granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, and was taught by Italian-Argentine pianist Vincenzo Scaramuzza, who taught her to sing with her fingers ”like bel canto sopranos like Maria Malibran or Giulia Grisi”.
    • At eight she made her debut in Mozart’s Concerto in D minor KV 466.
    • At fourteen, supported by the government of Juan Perón, she went to study with Friedrich Gulda in Vienna, which was the “greatest inspiration of my career”.
    • In 1960 she made one of the most brilliant debut records ever: The staccatos, the broken chords and the brilliant passages of Chopin’s C sharp minor Scherzo; the repetitions divided between both hands on a note by Prokofiev’s Toccata; the octave thunder of the Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt – mastered it in such a way that it was out of this world. The loudest applause came from Vladimir Horowitz, playing jokes on his friends telling them that it was him playing the Toccata…
    • In 1961 she spent time taking instruction with Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli in Piedmont and then stopped playing for a while, working as a secretary, and married the composer Robert Chen from whom she separated shortly before the birth of their daughter.
    • Two other daughters come from the marriages with the conductor Charles Dutoit and the pianist Stephen Kovacevich.

Known of her high demands on herself, Argerich sometimes has expressed wishes for a different profession. At times during her long career Argerich avoided the arena of the large concert halls and played neither concertos nor solo recitals. Instead, she devoted herself to chamber music with friends, among them generously sponsored young musicians, at her festival in Lugano. In the late 1990s she also won the battle against serious cancer.

Martha Argerich Festival 2021 – Livestreamed

To mark the 80th anniversary of the legendary artist, Symphoniker Hamburg presents Martha Argerich Festival 2021 featuring 12 live concerts – live streamed in very high quality video and sound for fans of Martha Argerich around the world.

DATES: June 20 to July 1, 2021

LOCATION: Great Hall of the Laeiszhalle Hamburg (Germany)

Martha Argerich Festival 2021 presents 12 exclusive concerts featuring world-class artists, including Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Maria João Pires, Mischa Maisky, Renaud Capuçon, Gidon Kremer and many other artists.

Festival program >>
Schedule of livestream concerts >>

Further reading and listening

To sum up Martha Argerich’s 60 years as a performer is virtually impossible. Piano Street therefore has selected a number of fine articles containing different aspects of the artist and her long career.

Deutsche Welle
‘Lioness’ of the piano: Martha Argerich turns 80

The Guardian
Martha Argerich review – our greatest living pianist? It’s hard to disagree

Martha Argerich: 80th Birthday Celebration

Martha Argerich at 80

Classic FM – Photo gallery
Martha Argerich: 11 stunning photos of the great pianist

For more information about this topic, use the search form below!


  • Martin Kenneth Taunton says:

    Thank you for posting this. Martha is such a brilliant pianist and I want to thank her for playing for us all. Happy 80th Martha.

  • vincent kuin says:

    She is our fortune, and a donation for the people of our time. Thanks for all your music so beautiful and with passion played!

  • Leonard Seidel says:

    One of the greatest pianists ever who’s technique has rarely been matched. Being a pianist myself and about the same age, I have marvelled through the years at her extraordinary gift and talent and remarkable strength. Just amazing. Thank you for this posting.

  • Peter Deutsch says:

    Martha is incredible and plays as if she was 30, not 80. Fascinating to know that she has sometimes wished for a different profession. I can imagine being a performer is highly demanding and can wear you down. I wonder how many pianists struggle with that?

  • Aurea Bastos says:

    Merci de me permettre d’écouter des artistes si merveilleux et extraordinaires!
    L’Art guérit et soulage l’âme, l’esprit et le cœur!
    Il n’y a rien qui puisse avoir un tel enchantement, un tel soulagement et guérison.
    Aurea Bastos

  • Martha Dupont says:

    Wonderful Martha! And she has the same name as me :) I didn’t know she stopped playing for a while. Funny that it happened after getting instruction from Michelangeli, I wonder if he was a bad teacher? Doesn’t that make it hard to come back? Incredible that she picked it up again. She is just fabulous.

  • Sam Davis says:

    Knowing she was taught by Vincenzo Scaramuzza is enough to know how brilliant she is. I am jealous, honestly! It amazes me how so many life-long pianists continue into their older ages and it keeps them mentally and emotionally strong and centered. I know I will never be one of the best but I can dream! I just like to follow people like Martha and enjoy their performances and work. It inspires me to keep playing and learning as I go. I just wish I had more time to invest in my piano.

  • douglas gunderson says:

    Now I finally get it. My attraction to Martha must have something to do with our shared June 5 birthday, altho I’m only 70. Just love this woman and her out of this world playing.

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