Entertainment & Arts

Pianist Martha Argerich is awarded top music honour

Martha Argerich and RPS chairman, John Gilhooly Image copyright Clive Barda
Image caption Martha Argerich was presented with the medal by the RPS chairman John Gilhooly at a ceremony at London's Wigmore Hall

Pianist Martha Argerich has been awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society's (RPS) Gold Medal, one of classical music's highest honours.

Argentinian-born Argerich, 74, follows in the footsteps of Placido Domingo and Antonio Pappano, among others.

Argerich is known as one of the most innovative pianists and a strong supporter of new talent.

The RPS said she was gifted with a "combination of technical mastery and passionate artistry".

The society's statement continued: "Martha Argerich's extraordinary live performances are a musical and intellectual tour de force."

The society also praised her commitment to emerging musicians and the "inspirational collaborations" between up-and-coming artists and established ones she had made happen.

Pianist Gabriele Baldocci, one of Argerich's long-standing duo partner, paid tribute to Argerich.

"She says everything through music. I've never had a formal lesson with her, but she is my greatest teacher," he said.

Child prodigy

Argerich is the 101st recipient of the gold medal, which was founded in 1870 in celebration of the centenary of the birth of Beethoven.

The Royal Philharmonic Society commissioned Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and continued to have a close association with the composer.

Argerich was born in Buenos Aires and began piano lessons at the age of five. Her talent was soon obvious and she gave her debut concert in 1949 at the age of eight.

In 1955, she and her family moved to Vienna, Austria, and she continued her studies in London, Vienna and in Switzerland.

In 1957, Argerich won the prestigious Bolzano and Geneva Piano Competitions, and in 1965 the Warsaw International Chopin Competition.

Since then, she has been one of the most prominent pianists in the world and has won many awards, including two Grammys.

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