The pianist who is playing through cancer

The pianist who is playing through cancer


norman lebrecht

May 15, 2021

The German pianist Lars Vogt told Twitter the other day that he was starting  a second round of chemotherapy for cancer.

Van magazine asked Vogt, 50, how he keeps up his playing during treatment.

Funnily enough, I even play sometimes during the chemo. I’m always in the clinic for two days at a time, and there’s an upright in the cancer ward. Before they hook me up to the infusion I usually go upstairs and play a little for myself. When I’m hooked up to the infusion, I stumble through half the clinic with the stand at my side into the palliative ward, where there’s a grand piano. And I play a little, and whoever wants can listen. As long as it doesn’t bother people. No one’s complained so far. [Laughs.] But of course I’m not practicing, just playing things that give me joy.

Besides that I’m trying to keep up with it, playing for an hour or two a day, which is fun. You need to preserve your strength, but also keep things in order. Usually I feel pretty good until the afternoon, but I’ve often made the mistake of thinking that things are normal, and doing a bunch of stuff, and then I don’t feel great in the evening. I need to remind myself to take a break and lie down. Then I feel better in the evening. 

Read on here.


  • Derek H says:

    I wish him well and a return to good health.

    He is a very good pianist and seems such a friendly and thoroughly worth while person.

  • Bostin'Symph says:

    I’m very sorry to hear this news. I send Lars Vogt the very best wishes for a full recovery.

    Chemo therapy is no fun. It is heartening to read how positive he is, and that he is even turning the drawn-out treatment to good effect!

  • M McAlpine says:

    Wishing Lars all the best for a good recovery

  • A.L. says:

    I am profoundly sorry to learn Mr. Vogt is suffering from cancer. Sending my best for a speedy and full recovery. He is an exceptional pianist and musician and his recording of the Goldberg Variations left a deep impression on me; no small feat considering a thrice familiar work and stiff competition both historical and present.

  • Rob Keeley says:

    Heartbreaking but also somehow uplifting words. As someone in a similar position I found this article very moving and also very helpful. I know exactly what he means about Brahms giving solace. Thank you for posting this Norman.

  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    The last Q/A is wonderful and, I think, worth quoting in full

    [Q]”Is there anything about this illness that makes sense to you?”

    [A]”In the last several years, I often had the feeling that time was passing insanely fast. It was so easy to imagine a “whoosh,” and suddenly I’m 80, and the day is done. It’s something that I think a lot of us experience, an accelerando where time keeps flying by more quickly.

    Before the illness, I was often depressed, even if it was just for a day or two. I’d stay in bed and think: “Oh God, I’m so old.” Funnily, because of the illness that’s completely disappeared. I’m rarely so defeated. More often I’m utterly happy. ”

    Thanks for posting this – and we hope the best for this great musician !

  • erich says:

    This is so incredibly sad but at the same time so terribly brave and uplifting, that he can nevertheless take such a posititive attitude. He is not only a truly great musician but also an extremely good and kind man. One must really hope that between his doctors and his evident inner strength, a way can be found to keep this terrible illness in check and allow him to spend more time both with his family and continuing to delight his audiences.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Lars Vogt is an inspiration to all of us. Gute Besserung.

  • RW2013 says:

    Very sad to hear.
    Excellent pianist.
    Gute Besserung!

  • Aus Wien ... says:

    Wonderful man! Alles Gute!

  • Emma says:

    He is such a wonderful pianist. I wish you all the best and a speedy recovery!

  • Norman Krieger says:

    Such an inspiring and uplifting interview. Wishing Lars a full recovery and many many more years filled with great health, a joyful time with his family and music!!

  • Louise Hynd says:

    Wonderful musician. Wonderful person. Get well soon dearest Lars.

  • NYCgirl says:

    Wishing him all the best!

  • Herr Doktor says:

    The whole interview is well worth reading. Best wishes to Lars Vogt for a full recovery, and if that’s not possible, then for many more good years. He’s a wonderful pianist and I’ve enjoyed hearing him in concert a number of times over the years.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    All best wishes for success of the chemo and a return to health, then the concert stage and/or podium!

  • Greg Bottini says:

    I’ll add my wishes to the chorus for a speedy and complete recovery to you, Lars. I’ve been admirer of your wonderful art for a long time.
    Hang in there, buddy!

  • christopher storey says:

    Let’s not be too sad yet awhile . The cure rate for so many cancers now is vastly improved over that of even 15 years ago . May Lars Vogt soon be back to full health

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Praying for his full and healthy recovery. Such a wonderful person and musician. Stay safe and strong.

  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    You can remind yourself here how wonderful his Leeds Competition performance of Schumann concerto was

  • Jaap van Heerdenen says:

    I am heartened by Lars’ incredibly positive approach to his condition and I wish him and his family all the best. I hope to be able to hear his wonderful playing for many, many more years!

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