Madrid mourns Maria, 59

Madrid mourns Maria, 59


norman lebrecht

July 01, 2021

The agreeable, efficient and energetic Maria Weissenberg, public face of the Teatro Real’s PR for a generation, has died at 59 after a long struggle with cancer.

She was the daughter of the Jewish pianist Alexis Weissenberg, an intimate friend of Herbert von Karajan, and the custodian of his online archive.


  • ricci says:

    What sad news, she was a wonderful wonderful lady. May she rest in peace

  • Peter says:

    “the Jewish pianist Alexis Weissenberg”
    Are we now labelling pianists by religion?

    • Mydiscsarefine says:

      Norman does. By sex, religion, colour…

    • Fliszt says:

      Bulgarian pianist!

    • Henry williams says:

      To me he is Bulgarian.

    • esfir ross says:


    • Weimar says:

      Jewishness is not a religion, but a
      nation. The Jewish people is defined by ethnicity, ancestry,
      culture, tradition, and fate
      characteristics. Its religion is the
      Mosaic faith.

      • Saxon says:

        Huh? This really isn’t true since it is possible to convert to Judaism. And it is also possible for people with Jewish ancestors not to be Jewish themselves.

        • Weimar says:

          Referring specifically to Alexis Weissenberg, he was neither a convert to
          Judaism, nor an apostate,
          as far as we know from a
          short autobiography found
          on his online archive.
          Accordingly, he left with his
          mother in 1941 (aged 12)
          the then antisemitic Bulgaria in an attempt to
          reach Palestine, where they
          finally arrived after a detention of three months
          in a Bulgarian concentration camp, and
          several weeks in Istambul,
          waiting for passports and
          visas. The short autobiography further
          describes the Israeli period
          of his life (1941-1946).

          Incidentally, in an obituary
          posted on 12/12/15, the
          Radio Bulgaria website
          referred to A.W. as the
          “Bulgarian Jew Weissenberg”. (
          post/100636 183/2012-

    • I do not believe that Alexis Weissenberg would have any objection to this qualification of his persona.

      Although Weissenberg was born in Bulgaria where he lived until the age of 11 or 12, I am not sure how strongly he identified with that country after he was then able to flee together with his mother to Turkey after being put in an internment camp by the Nazis in 1941 when Bulgaria decided that it would cooperate with Germany in World War II.

      There are many fascinating writings by himself and others on this internet site:

      Before spouting off about labels, one should read some of his own autobiographical writings. At any rate, I believe that he was a French citizen at the end of his life, and he had been living in Lugano, Switzerland for the longest time. As the famous line in the movie “Casablanca” goes, he was definitely a “citizen of the world” (but for completely different reasons than Rick, alias Humphrey Bogart).

    • Following up on my earlier comment:

      “I do not believe that Alexis Weissenberg would have any objection to this qualification of his persona…”

      “Qualification” meaning here as “a Jewish pianist”, of course.

  • Jonathan Cable says:

    I’m very sorry to learn of this. I’m privileged to have often been in contact with her while I was a part of three productions at the Teatro Real. She was a lovely lady, and she will be sorely missed.

  • There is also a notice about it here (in Spanish):

    She also had a Facebook site; some of the above content was taken from there.