Death of a Rubinstein protégé, aged 64

Death of a Rubinstein protégé, aged 64


norman lebrecht

February 03, 2015

The American-Italian pianist and conductor Jo Alfidi has died in Belgium, aged 64.

Jo conducted the Miami Symphony Orchestra at six years old and appeared at Carnegie Hall a year later.

The Queen of Belgium, a fan, paid for his piano studies in her country. In 1972, he came third in the Reine Elisabeth competition. His DG recording of the Rachmaninov D minor concerto impressed Arthur Rubinstein, who became an important mentor, sharing a TV documentary, Arthur Rubinstein and the Young – Joe Alfidi & Arthur Rubinstein.

But the public career fizzled out and he wound up as a professor at the Conservatoire in Liège.


rubinstein alfidi


  • Sonatas Happen says:

    The 1972 Queen Elizabeth Competition Winners placed in the following order:

    1. Valery Afanassiev
    2. Jeffrey Swann
    3. Joseph Alfidi
    4. David Lively
    5. Svetlana Navassardjian
    6. Ikuyo Kamaya
    7. Emanuel Ax
    8. James Tocco
    9. Cyprien Katsaris

  • Scott Colebank says:

    Alfidi’s 1972 Rach 3 recording (conducted by Rene Defossez) has to my knowledge never been reissued on CD. The original LP issue was DG 2538 322, then as a part of 3-LP box set 2530 286/8. There was a reissue in 1977 on Heliodor 2548 262. Movement timings are 15:41, 10:03, 12:00 = 37:44. He plays the alternate first-movement cadenza and takes the second third-movement cut.

  • Joanmg says:

    Rest in peace, Joey. My very first classical concert, Carnegie Hall. We were both 7 years old. I remember meeting him after the concert and being awestruck. That concert was the catalyst that started my lifelong love of music, especially classical. I am forever grateful to this extraordinary musician.

  • Ron says:

    I met Joey in 1960. We were approximately the same age. I visited his house a couple of times at 15 Aqueduct Place, picked up by his dad from Van Cortlandt Park. My father had been a music critic for a German newspaper and had been assigned to cover Joey’s performance, with Symphony of the Air, of his own second piano concerto, Beethoven’s fifth symphony as conductor, of course, and the Mozart D minor concerto.

    Several times in the last year or two i was on the verge of “tracking down” Joey with an intent to rekindle our long extinguished friendship. Today I was going to take the initiative finally and discovered he had died a few months ago.

    Would someone please provide some recollections of him in recent years? Had he been ill? Family?

    • I have only been able to find that he died after a long (unspecified) illness. The he announcement was made by his trusted friend Georges Blau-Turner, who himself died just two months ago (15 April, 2020). My conjecture is that he died of an illness that is wished to be kept. If I am correct, it saddens me that many are not accepted for who they are. To him, and to his trusted friend, Puissiez-vous reposer en paix et dans l’étreinte et la grâce d’un Dieu plein d’amour. À votre famille, à vos amis et aux membres de votre communauté bien-aimée, j’offre une de mes compositions. Beaucoup d’entre vous reconnaîtront la poésie de Paul Verlaine. Allez avec Dieu, Daniel Zwickel ben Avram

  • J Joe Townley says:

    I was a big Alfidi admirer as well. I remember reading the Schwann LP catalogue as a kid and stumbling onto his recording of his own Piano Concerto No 2 issued on the Jubilee label and wondering, “What kind of a kid writes at least two piano concertos by the time they’re 12?”

    The obit doesn’t say what Alfidi passed away from. Anyone know?

    • Ron says:

      I recall that double album and think that his piano concerto can be found on YouTube. It is strange that the trajectory of his career did not carry through to what had appeared its destined peak.