Did Argerich give Abbado his first break?

Did Argerich give Abbado his first break?


norman lebrecht

October 08, 2015

Fascinating revelations in a trawl of Martha’s friends by Jessica Duchen for the current issue of Pianst magazine.

abbado argerich2


According to the pianist Gabriele Baldocci, Martha and Claudio met as fellow-pianists in Friedrich Gulda’s class. Martha went on to win the Chopin competition. Deutsche Grammophon asked her to record one of the concertos.

Who would she like to conduct? Claudio, she said.

It was his record debut.


argerich pianist mag


But is the story true? Would DG in those authoritarian days have allowed a young pianist to choose her own conductor? Can anyone corroborate?



  • Oliver says:

    As far as either artist’s recording career goes, none of this is accurate.
    The first concerto recording that Argerich and Abbado made together for DG was of the Ravel Piano Concerto and Prokofiev’s Third. That was in 1967; that recording was Abbado’s first for DG, and Argerich’s first concerto recording for DG. They recorded Chopin’s First together in 1968.
    Saying that that recording gave Abbado his breakthrough is an odd claim: by 1967 Abbado had made his debut at the Salzburg Festival and (in 1967) conducted the opening night of La Scala’s season.

  • corinna68 says:

    whether it was a break or not, it certainly was a great chance, if it is indeed true. Lots of artists have done this in the past like apparently Domingo wanting Muti for the Aida recording with Monserrat Caballe with EMI. sounds plausible. And today I think it happens even more so

  • Gabriele Baldocci says:

    I think there was a little misunderstanding here.
    According to a conversation I recall having had with Martha a few years ago, Martha was responsible for Abbado’s debut with Berlin Phil and not for his recording debut. They met each other in Vienna, being both students of Gulda and their friendship lasted until his very last days.

  • Mark Wait says:

    Karajan brought Abbado to the Salzburg Festival in 1963, and it is reasonable to assume that Karajan brought him to Berlin as well. Meanwhile, Abbado and Argerich knew each other in Vienna in the 1950s, when both were pianists at the Conservatory. Argerich’s biography by Olivier Bellamy reports that Abbado, about 22 years old, was then a pianist studying the Brahms Second Concerto, and she, age 14, was assigned to be his rehearsal pianist playing the orchestral reduction.