Breaking: Great pianist retires

Breaking: Great pianist retires


norman lebrecht

July 05, 2019

A statement from Radu Lupu’s management to the Spanish magazine Scherzo confirms that he will formally retire from the stage at the end of the present season.

Lupu, 73, has been in frail health for the past couple of years and has been subject to frequent cancellations.

He gave a recital last week with Steven Isserlis in Switzerland, and that may be the last we see of him.

We wish Radu a long and happy retirement.

A tribute from the conductor Ivan Fischer:

Born in Galați, Romania, Lupu studied with Florica Musicescu, the teacher of Dinu Lipatti, and Heinrich Neuhaus, who taught Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. He emerged to win the Van Cliburn Competition (1966), the George Enescu International Piano Competition (1967), and the Leeds (1969).

He married the cellist and Shostakovich biographer Elizabeth Wilson in 1971. His second wife, Delia Bugarin, is a violinist in the Lausanne chamber orchestra.

Here’s Jessica Duchen’s account of his final London appearance.


  • V says:

    What a great career. One of the greatest. Best wishes to him. What lucky neighbors. Maybe they can catch him practicing next door.

  • Bruce says:

    At Eastman back in the day (maybe it’s still like this) you could take a shortcut from the school proper to the classroom annex by crossing the 2nd floor lobby of Eastman Theatre. This was discouraged since the Rochester Philharmonic was often rehearsing in the theater, and David Zinman would get annoyed if he heard voices floating down from up there.

    Anyway, one day a friend and I were sneaking through on our way to Italian class. We had just made it safely to the door to the annex when the last movement of the Brahms D minor concerto started up. I knew the piece, but this sounded like no pianist I’d ever heard. Mark and I looked at each other, silently agreed that Italian class could wait, and snuck back in to find out who this astounding pianist was. It was Lupu, of course (otherwise why would I even be telling this story). I had a recording or two of his, but had never heard him live. Anyway, I went to both performances and he was galvanizing both nights; but that rehearsal was one of the musical highlights of my time at school there.

    20 or so years later, I went to a recital of his in Seattle. Afterward, my partner wanted his autograph so we went back to see if he was signing. He was. We were in line behind the adolescent kid and his mother who had been whispering “this is boring” during Janacek’s “Overgrown Path” pieces and the big Schubert A Major sonata. (The only thing they liked was the Waldstein, probably because he played it very fast.) Anyway, the kid was kissing up to him furiously, telling him he was a pianist too and asking him questions to show that he was a young man to be taken seriously. His last question was “What pianists do you like to listen to?” With a disarming smile that showed he knew exactly what this boy was and what he was up to, Lupu shrugged and said “…Myself.”

    On the one hand I’m sorry he’s retiring; on the other hand, we will still have as much of him as most of us ever had, thanks to his recordings (all that wonderful, wonderful Schubert for example).

    Happy retirement, maestro, and thank you for all the music.

  • Y2K says:

    He is my favorite Schubertian. I will never get tired of his Mozart Dmaj/Schubert Fmin fantasy disc with Perahia. I wish him all the best.

  • Pedro says:

    Radu is one of my three favourite living pianists, the others being Argerich and Zimerman. My wife and myself were lucky enough to have dinner with him quite a few times. His conversation was always interesting and his knowledge of extra-musical matters was huge. After concert, his mood was always light, as he wanted to move from the depthness of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann or Brahms to something different as food and wine, though he seldom drank a glass with us. 2019 is a sad year for me. Radu and Haitink, my favourite conductor, are both retiring. Luckily, new faces are arriving at the musical scene but an era is ending.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Sad to read. But at least we can say that Lupu was true to himself and to his art. He had no need to wh*re his way around as so many are wont today. That’s a byproduct of having so little of importance to say musically so they obfuscate and distract with their extracurriculars. Not Lupu. All in all, a formidable pianist and musician.

  • J. says:

    The best concert of my life was a recital of his, at the Musikverein, in 2012. Playing Schubert and Franck. Thanks, Radu.

  • Radu Lupu will forever be my greatest source of inspiration and my musical hero.

  • M2N2K says:

    Memories of performing with him and listening to him are among my most treasured – what a wonderful musician! Have a healthy and happy retirement, Radu! You deserve it.

  • Maryam says:

    Wish I could have heard him live

  • Antoine Bares says:

    The greatest pianist of our time. He was made for the instrument. Let’s thank him for his work.

    • M2N2K says:

      In my opinion (in case of Radu Lupu), it would be much more accurate to say that the instrument was made for him – so that he could express his innermost thoughts, ideas, feelings, emotions – to share them all with listeners. The piano was mainly just a tool that enabled him to meditate on music that he played. That is what made him such a unique artist and musician.

  • christopher storey says:

    One of the great pianists . I only heard him in person twice I think, but I shall always remember his performance of Beethoven 3 in the 1969 Leeds Competition, where the coda to the 1st movement was quite unforgettable, delivered almost in a whisper . We all wish him a happy retirement

    • John kelly says:

      Agree he is a special pianist and a truly wonderful player. I am remembering a heavenly Emperor at Bradford with the Halle around 1975……

  • Yes, he failed and we missed to enjoy his exceptional performences, in concerts scheduled to take place in Bucharest, in 2018 and in Wien, in May 2019 …. We wish him health and peaceful life ! Respectuously, from Bucharest !

    • Belu says:

      Daca sunteti o persoana din familia ing. drumuri CECIU (iscas, isart islgc, etc) va rog sa transmiteti un omagiu din partea unui fost coleg de serviciu, stabilit din 1990 in Franta !