Death of a secret genius

Death of a secret genius


norman lebrecht

May 30, 2011

The international pianist and pedagogue Vitalij Margulis died yesterday in Los Angeles after a long illness, at the age of 83. His last recital was given in California in November.

Born in Kharkov, Ukraine, Margulis studied with his own father, whose teacher, Alexander Horowitz, had been a pupil of Skryabin’s.

After a busy, though not heavily promoted, performing career in the Soviet Union, he became professor of piano at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1994, holding a paralle post at Freiburg, in Germany. His pupils included Bernd Glemser, Alexander Djordjevic and Axel Schmitt. Bach and Beethoven were the source of his musical outlook. His teaching personality was tempered by historic cataclysms and Jewish wit.


Joachim Kaiser, the influential German critic, called him ‘the secret genius’.

More information at his (unusually modest) website here. To hear Vitalij play Rachmaninov, click here.

Rest in peace.


  • MusikAnT says:

    I managed to hear him play in concert just once back in the late 1990s. Truly a genius; a keyboard titan. What a terrible loss.