Maria-Joao Pires: I never had a good relationship with the piano

Maria-Joao Pires: I never had a good relationship with the piano


norman lebrecht

April 03, 2018

It’s the reason she’s retiring, the great pianist tells Platea magazine.

I have to tell you, the piano itself is probably the main reason I’m retiring. I’ve never really had a good relationship with him. I mean, there are multiple factors, of course: I need more time for myself and I want to live without having to give concerts, but the piano itself, the instrument, has never adapted to me. 

Read on here.



  • Andy says:

    Sounds neurotic and precocious. Why should the piano adapt to her? It’s an instrument, it is what it is, play it. It takes some mastering but that’s the job of the pianist. I’ve seen this with Pires before, she seems to be a very good pianist (far from best) capable of talking oceans of nonsense.

    • Dominic Stafford says:

      Haha! I think this is more likely to be a misunderstanding of how the romance languages work by Norman. It’s like ‘tu me manques’ means I miss you in French (you are missing to me). She means she never got used to the piano.

      • Nik says:

        Exactly. Also: “I’ve never really had a good relationship with him.” This is translating things that are not there. El piano takes the masculine form in Spanish. It doesn’t mean she intends to refer to it as a “he”.

        • Girl from Ipanema says:

          Please have in mind that Maria João Pires is from Portugal – and, therefore, speaks Portuguese and not Spanish. I’m from Brazil, a former Portuguese colony, and in 95% of times people in Europe and in the United States assume we speak Spanish. That said, the Portuguese language is more dramatic and less objective (due to its many “ornaments”) when compared to English. So, things that sound absolutely balanced and reasonable in Portuguese might be taken as overstatements and exaggerations if badly translated.

          • Nik says:

            Untwist your knickers please. The reason I referred to Spanish is because the article linked to in the post is in Spanish. I can tell the difference to Portuguese, thank you.

  • Rob says:

    You need to make love to the piano.

  • La Verita says:

    Madame Pires has been praised for many things – sanity not being one of them. Certainly a fine artist (who is best appreciated in small halls and on recordings), but upstairs she was never playing with a full deck.

  • AKP says:

    To accuse someone of being insane (read your words) is a ridiculous assertion,which could well be libellous or slanderous depending on the circumstances.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    This is not to do with sanity, or lack of it, more to do with narcissism

  • tomas says:

    Poor Maria-Joao, her best times were probably with Augustin Dumay LIVE.

    Of the mean spirited comments I read here, I imagine that none of the people who post such horrible things have ever had health problems and never played at the top of such a difficult profession for decades?

  • brian says:

    I was thinking about responding to all the low blows and scurrilous remarks above when our local classical station happened to play the Pires recording of the Chopin b minor sonata; by the time it had reached the end of that sublime Largo movement, I realized no response was necessary. Anyway, you can of course simply not love this artist’s output as I and so many others do; but her career should be beyond the reach of mere slander.

  • Patrick Park says:

    Well I will reply to Andy’s comment! I can only assume that Andy is not an accomplished pianist or at least not one whom has earned a Julliard or Curtis performance degree or any other similar performance degree. If he had he would understand very fast what Maria was saying. Both of these institutions regard Maria João Pires as one of the most talented and sought after pianists. Piano performance has to do with producing a very personal sound and conquering the obstacles of 88 piano keys in order to produce that sound and the technical difficulties of the composition being performed. Not to mention the other potential problems of maybe not feeling good or in the mood to perform on a given day. Walk out on a lonely stage some day with 3000 people listening to you trying to play something even very easy or in Dante’s inferno performing let’s say all 24 etudes of Chopin. Only then will you fully understand what all this is about. In the future compliment those who do rather than those who do not do such as yourself. If by chance you are a great pianist then forgive my comments but I bet you are not.