November 29, 2008

The genius of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli

Michelangeli was known for his note-perfect performances. “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,” wrote of him the music critic Harold Schonberg. In this post is explained how his style is classical in the sense of Classicism, and in a way that is more than emblematic.

Why more than emblematic? Because Michelangeli (together with Maurizio Pollini) is further evidence of a sort of anti-romanticism present in the Italian culture and due, not many doubts about it, to the Italian classical heritage and its influence in all fields.


  1. Well, I wrote this post also from a sort of direct knowledge I have of Michelangeli's pianism (my ideal for some time).

    My piano teacher was actually one of his best pupils. Australian, of Irish descent, she lived in Arezzo, Tuscany - since Michelangeli had lived in Arezzo for quite a long time. When coming to Italy from Perth for the first time - she told me - she was already capable of playing ALL four Rachmaninof’s piano concertos by heart and almost without effort! (I'm sure you know this music is among the most difficult stuff ever written for piano).

    So she went to Michelangeli's who, after listening to her declared that if she really wanted to become one of his pupils she had to start all over again from Bach’s two-voice Inventions! She was sort of annihilated. That was Michelangeli's way.

    In any case he moulded her into what she was when I first met her. I can assure you, to the great Michelangeli's school of pianism she could add all her Irish heart and unpredictability. She was in my view surely greater than Pollini but she had to end up her career for family reasons and went back to Perth.

    My best regards

    Man of Roma

  2. PS

    From that time I never heard of her any more. Wonder what happened to her.

  3. Thanks! A very interesting and insightful anecdote. Ciao