Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli: Five Legendary Recordings

Last Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Italian pianist, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995).

Michelangeli has been called “one of the most enigmatic performers of the twentieth century.” A noted perfectionist, his concert repertoire was considered to be small, and he agreed to the release of relatively few recordings during his lifetime. He practiced eight to ten hours a day, telling students, “One has to work to feel your arms and back ache all over. Music is a right for those who deserve it.” He also said,

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.

Mysterious and reclusive, he was known to cancel concert appearances if conditions were not perfect. He was a consummate servant of the music. “Applause goes to Beethoven, to Chopin, to Debussy, not to me. I hate when applause is addressed to the pianist,” he once said. Following a performance, he said to his wife, “You see, so much applause, so much public. Then, in half an hour, you feel alone more than before.”

A powerful musicianship and supreme technical command are apparent in Michelangeli’s recordings. Here are five examples:

Debussy: Images (Reflets dans l’eau)

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15

A live recording with Carlo Maria Giulini and the Vienna Philharmonic:

Chopin: Mazurka No. 45 in G Minor, Op. 67 No. 2 – Cantabile

Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major

A 1957 recording with Ettore Gracis and the Philharmonia Orchestra:

Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40

A 1957 recording with Ettore Gracis and the Philharmonia Orchestra:

Recordings

  • Debussy: Images, Books I and II, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Amazon
  • Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Carlo Maria Giulini, Vienna Philharmonic Amazon
  • Chopin: Mazurka No. 45 in G minor, Op. 67, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Amazon
  • Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Ettore Gracis, Philharmonia Orchestra Amazon
  • Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Ettore Gracis, Philharmonia Orchestra Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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