Mourning for a piano giant, 77News
The great Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire died today after prolonged suffering, following injuries to his shoulder in a street fall two years ago. A close friend, the French writer Alain Lompech, was notified of the death by his household this morning.
Nelson was the lifelong best friend of Martha Argerich and himself a performer of the greatest subtlety and inwardness.
He shunned publicity, recorded copiously and never let an audience down. His companion Rosana Martins predeceased him last year.
Rosana introduced me to Nelson a few years ago at a London concert, where he was not playing. He had a charming smile and said almost nothing. He let the music do the talking and we all respected that.
We understand that he died last night in Rio de Janeiro.
The French pianist Philippe Cassard writes: ‘A giant has just left us. And everyone with him. A virtuoso with an incandescent velvet touch, great wildcat of the piano with devastating effect in Rachmaninov and Liszt, lyrical in Chopin, Beethoven and Brahms, luminous in Bach and Mozart. And what about the most extraordinary duo in history that he formed with 4 hands and 2 pianos with Martha Argerich? He was a kind, shy, humble man and away from the media noise. He will remain for a long time an example of musical and professional integrity raised to the highest point. All of us respect him, admire him, love him.’.
Born in Boa Esperança, Brazil, Nelson began piano lessons at the age of three with two former pupils of Liszt. He went to Vienna to study with Bruno Seidlhofer, Friedrich Gulda’s teacher, and began his solo career in 1959. He recorded extensively for Philips and Decca.