A great pianist turns 80 at the Wigmore Hall

A great pianist turns 80 at the Wigmore Hall


norman lebrecht

October 18, 2020

Stephen Kovacevich gave a Covid-rules recital last night to mark his 80th birthday.



  • Edward says:

    I remember, like it was yesterday, hearing Kovacevich play Beethoven and Schubert at Zellerbach Hall at Cal Berkeley, in 1976. Revelatory playing.

  • Lady Weidenfeld says:

    Yes it was a beautiful and very moving recital! A wonderful triumphant way to celebrate an 80th birthday. I happened to be at the first one he gave at Wigmore in 1961 – unforgettable Berg Sonata and Beethoven Diabelli Variations. Many happy returns and looking forward to the next big one in 5 years Stephen!

  • IP says:

    May he play for another 80, and then we can discuss retirement. A great, great artist. My mummy won’t let me speak to anybody who hasn’t a copy of his recording of Beethoven’s bagatelles.

  • karajanman says:

    Lucky to hear him play Brahms’ Second Concerto many years ago but it has stayed with me since as a truly memorable interpretation. His late Brahms on Philips is wonderful as well. Best wishes and continued good health to a great artist.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I heard him in recital with Diabelli. Magnificent.
      This great musician survived a stroke circa a decade ago; I wish him well in the coming years.

  • Pedro says:

    The last time I heard him was last season in a duo recital with Nartha Argerich. Superb, as usual.

  • KANANPOIKA says:

    Only worked with Kovacevich once, in 1982. Beethoven’s
    Piano Concerto No.1. It was leagues above and beyond
    the usual, and has endured as one of my most
    cherished concerto experiences.

  • Maria says:

    Now that’s a pianist, and formerly known as Stephen Bishop when I was a kid. He doesn’t need to get covered in waves, and do a Lola, and thump with a load of stupid histrionics. Happy birthday, Stephen, and many more. Thank you for all the years of classy and consistently good playing for us.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      He came to Australia as Stephen Bishop and rehearsed in the ABC basement. My friend and I went down and listened unobtrusively while eating our lunch!!

  • M McAlpine says:

    Heard him play many many years ago. And he signed my programme after!

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Happy Birthday, Steven, and many many more!

  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    Whatever happened to “*The* Wigmore Hall” ? This excitable presenter kept saying “Here from Wigmore Hall”, “Welcome to Wigmore Hall “. Sounds a bit undignified.

    • christopher storey says:

      Charles C-M : a few years ago , it was decided that The ( sic ) Wigmore Hall was not funky ( or something ) enough and that its “brand” ( another word I cannot stand ) would be improved by omitting the definite article . As always, a triumph of the cheap and meretricious over anything with lasting value

  • Jean Collen says:

    I remember having breakfast with Stephen when I was staying at the London Music Club in Holland Park in 1966. Happy birthday to a brilliant pianist!

  • Oscar Rivero says:

    Martha and him the best duo !

  • Edgar Self says:

    The Wigmore Hall could always revert to its first name, the Bechstein Hall.

  • Martinu says:

    Few years ago. Mr. Kovacevich in recital in YMCA, Jerusalem. A cold(ish) winter day. After the first piece (Bach suite) he got up, turned to the audience and said – It is too cold here.. A gentleman rises from the audience – Murray Perahia, who was in the audience. Perahia got on stage, tried to understand what the problem is. Someone from the audience offered a sweatshirt. After some moments the heating in the hall was turned on and the recital re-commenced. Only in Israel..

  • John wills says:

    He has been a frequent visitor to Australia giving us many opportunities to hear him in concert. I have been curious about his low seating choice.

  • Edgar Self says:

    This esteemed pianist won my regard with the statement “Conducting is the last bastion of quackery outside the medical profession.” With apologies to Doc Martin and colleagues, but not to Bernard Shaw (“The Doctor’s Dilemma”, &tc)

  • Edgar Self says:

    ∑asn’t it at the YMHA, not YMCA, Martinui?