Martha to be honoured in Washington

The Argentine pianist Martha Argerich will be decorated at the 39th annual Kennedy Center Honors in December, it was announced today.

Others on the podium are the rock band the Eagles, actor Al Pacino, gospel and blues chanteuse Mavis Staples and legendary musician James Taylor.

(Martha and the Eagles? I don’t think so.)

Martha said: ‘I am deeply humbled and amazed to be one of the Kennedy Center Honorees. When I was 11-years-old in Argentina, my mother Juanita dreamed for me to study in the United States; instead we went to Europe where I started my career and where I have been living ever since. My late mother would be very proud today, and I would like to share this wonderful tribute with her.’

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  • No question about her greatness, but the Kennedy Center Honors are supposed to be, I thought, for people who have made major contributions to American arts and culture. I’ve never known her connection to the US to be more than an occasional (even infrequent?) visit; if you look over the lists of past winners, it’s hard to find someone who had less of a U.S. connection. I even found Pavarotti being honored a few years ago rather questionable, though at least he sang regularly at the MET for years.

    • For a time when both lived in NYC, Vladimir Horowitz and Oscar Levant were good friends. Both frequent cancellers, Oscar suggested they issue a joint press release saying “Vladimir Horowitz and Oscar Levant” are available for a limited number of cancellations.

    • Probably not, because she won’t be playing (although they will surely show several of her most successful recital and concerto performances in quick clips.

  • This makes no sense whatever: What contributions has this Argentine made to American life? She has cancelled more than she has performed, she’s restricted her performances to the largest American cities, and with the exception of a New Year’s telecast from Vienna in 1991, she has never appeared on American television. At least Pavarotti did the circuit – performing on college campuses, etc, and he was heavily exposed on television, but Argerich is virtually unknown to the American public: her last American solo recital was at Carnegie Hall in 1982 (other than her “half-recital” at Carnegie in March of 2000, which doesn’t count). Certainly she’s an amazing artist, but this Kennedy Center honor is not deserved.

    • Wrong. She gave a solo concert at the music center in Los Angeles few years after the Carnegie Hall concert and at Disney Concert Hall a few years ago

  • No. The announced 2001 Argerich-Carnegie solo recital was cancelled, and never again did she play a solo piano recital in New York. Her March 2000 Carnegie “half” solo recital (the 2nd half featured the Schumann Quintet) was a hastily arranged benefit affair honoring the L.A. doctors who saved her life when she was operated on for melanoma, and it was billed correctly as her first NY solo recital in 19 years. As for the two L.A. solo recitals you refer to, there seems to be no record of them, so please supply the dates.

  • Would anyone be grumbling if Horowitz or Rubinstein had received this honor? Well, she’s been at that level for a long time. She deserves it for a lifetime of extraordinary artistry, in the US and around the world. And isn’t it about time Martha was seen on American television? If that were the criterion the only classical pianist to qualify these days would be Lang Lang.

  • As much as I admire and love Martha Argerich, I fail to see how she has made a significant contribution to the musical life of the U.S.; her performances in the US have always been very rare and rather bafflingly, she refuses to play solo recitals anywhere. Also her frequent cancellations, have always struck me as being rathee unprofessional…That she’s a legend and a goddess is beyond question, but there are many other classical performers, who have made a more lasting, regular contribution to the classical musical life in the US, (Itzak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Alicia de Larrocha, at least while was alive, to name just three who could or should have been selected for this honor)…

    • For the record: Itzhak Perlman did receive this award in 2003. As for Yo-Yo Ma, he is only 60 and still in good shape, so he will almost certainly be chosen to receive it sometime during the next decade.

  • A couple of years ago there was a huge deal made about “too few” Latinos or Latinas chosen to receive this award. It looks to me like this year Martha Argerich is being given the “Latin spot” among the recipients.

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