Death of one of the greatest pianists, 76

Death of one of the greatest pianists, 76


norman lebrecht

April 18, 2022

The surreal and sensitive Romanian pianist Radu Lupu died last night after a prolonged illness.

His death was announced by the Enescu Festival in his native country and confirmed by his agent.

Lupu retired three years ago. He was the rarest of artists, giving few appearances and making no more than two-dozen recordings in as many years. Each, however, was a unique object and occasion. His Schubert, especially, was transcendent and his Beethoven unfailingly profound. He was inimitable.

He blazed onto the world stage in the 1960s, winning the second Van Cliburn Competition, followed by the Leeds. Reticent from the outset, he gave few interviews, then none at all.

Radu was twice married, to the author Elizabeth Wilson and to the violinist Delia Lupu.


  • M McAlpine says:

    Very fine pianist. The tragedy was he left so few records of his art.

  • Eyal Braun says:

    So sad. I was fortunate to hear him many times in Israel, including in many works he did not record ( Several Mozart concerti , especially an unforgettable no 27, the best Schumann Davidbundlerstanze ever, some Beethoven late sonatas and much more…) One of all- time great pianists

    • Richard Fredrickson says:

      On YouTube there s a wonderful video of a live performance of the Mozart No. 23 in A live with Sandor Vegh conducting. Stunningly beautiful!

  • Mischa MAISKY says:


  • Don Ciccio says:


    Oneof the greats. RIP.

  • Josu De Solaun says:

    Devastating. Words fail. I don’t think I will ever be lucky enough to listen again to such playing in my lifetime. I will cherish the memories… Rest in peace, dear Radu. Thank you for touching my life so deeply.

  • Nigel Goldberg says:

    Very sad news.

  • kh says:

    This is such sudden and unwelcome news… Rest in peace.

  • A Pianist says:

    I heard his Schumann Fantasy in his last touring years, I have never heard anything so otherworldly.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Too soon. He was a quiet and kind man. We met several times at breakfast in Oslo where we performed in different places. On a personal level, as I was starting out in a career, I asked if he enjoyed all the traveling and playing. To my surprise, he said he did not truly. I was very surprised. Perhaps it was a lonely existence. But he played so beautifully, and his recorded legacy will live on beyond our lifetimes.

  • Louise Hullinger says:

    Thankyou Radu Lupu for your artistry as one of the best classical concert pianists ever.

  • rach3 says:

    He won the second cliburn competition, 1966

  • Rob Keeley says:

    Very sad news. A great musician and a lovely man. RIP Radu.

  • matt solti says:

    I have seen Radu et Avry Fisher I loved every seconnd

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    A wonderful musician. Thank heavens we live in the era of recording technology where they can still ‘live’ and play.

  • A.L. says:

    So deeply sorry.

  • Menahem Pressler and Annabelle Weidenfeld says:

    This is the saddest day, one we dreaded, knowing he was ready to go. A beloved friend and unique musician among the greatest pianists, the world is a poorer place without him. Our thoughts are with Delia and May he rest in peace.

  • Patrick says:

    I heard him several times at Kennedy Center. Such a warm and cushioned tone. At least at that point, he was as far from flashy as one could be. I treasure those gentle, glowing moments. My idea of a true artist, one who can guide us to the deepest parts of life. RIP, Radu.

  • Zandonai says:

    I heard him play Mozart #21 with LA Phil probably 10 years ago. It was a special treat to say the least.

  • just saying says:

    The days of unshowy, non-gimmicky, me-first playing are long gone, and Lupu was of the greats of this order. Sad we won’t see/hear a pianist like him, probably ever again. RIP

    • V. Lind says:

      Too true — Ax and Bronfman seem very heavy-handed and forgettable compared to the delicate touch of RL. An immense loss.

  • Amos says:

    Attended a performance he gave with the BSO of the Schumann concerto which was unique but in the best sense. RIP.

  • Emanuele says:

    He left the world emptier now…. Profound sadness.

  • Ted says:

    What a loss. He has given unforgetable concerts in Israel.I still remember his playing in Rubinsten festival (1987),replacing ill pianists and playing without real rehearsals.He was the real star of the festival,and the only one who came to hear the playing of his collegues (polini,brendel,perahia,barenboim etc.)
    The peak of his concerts were the encores,played in unique spiritual atmosphere that was created gradually during the concert.The last encore was the slow movement of Mozart sonata for two pianos (k. 448) played with Brenboim.Unforgetable performance.

  • Craig says:

    Thank you for sharing the news and the video.

  • Been Here Before says:

    Rest in Peace! A truly great pianist. No words can express my admiration for his art. The few recordings he left are impeccable. Radu Lupu will be deeply missed.

  • John Willan says:

    How sad. The last time I spoke with him, he said, “You know, John, there are at least two of us who think Franz Welser Most is a great conductor: you and me….” Of course, the other one was Thomas Morris of Cleveland, who appointed Franz as music director in 2002 and he’s been there ever since. RIP Radu….

  • Ian Cole says:

    When I was first building my record collection in the 1970s, one of the first purchases I made was his Beethoven 3 with the LSO (probably at the time because I liked the design on the cover). I have grown up with it as my personal benchmark and it is still my favourite. Played it again last night in his memory. A great, great pianist.

  • Mimi T says:

    I remember seeing the Leeds piano competition on television, as a child and being completely mesmerized by his hands. There seemed to be so little movement and his playing was effortless. It was simply beautiful to watch. The memory has not faded, nor the excitement of the moment.No other pianist has come close. He was matchless, a huge motivation and his technique, a superb standard for others to attempt. Thank you Radu Lupu, from
    all pianists and their teachers everywhere.

  • Nik says:

    I was not lucky enough to hear him play live, but his recordings of Brahms seem to reach the essence of the music in a way nobody else could.

  • Janina Fialkowska says:

    The world has lost one of its great treasures. I first heard Radu Lupu in recital back in the early 1970’s. The performance was in New York City at Hunter College and remains one of the greatest recitals I have ever heard; Schubert B flat sonata, Brahms Opus 118 and Bartok ‘Out of Doors’ Suite. Except for Arthur Rubinstein, there is no other pianist who had such an impact on my own development as a concert pianist. What Radu could do better than anyone was to create a whole world of atmosphere and sound around the compositions he played, Unlike Rubinstein who played ‘outwards’ and made every effort to project and meet his audience, Radu, a reclusive human being, would invite the public ‘in’ to his world; a fascinating , mysterious place where one could join him if one so desired .It was always pure magic. I also happened to like Radu very very much as a person and shall miss him greatly.

  • Laureen Di Bisceglie says:

    One of the greatest pianists of our time. Rest is peace, maestro. Blessed to hear him live – I will never forget it.

  • John Gingrich says:

    Many fond memories of almost 50 years ago at Hurok when very junior me and Radu enjoyed good humor and non-serious moments in a very serious concert business. We need to keep wishing that these great artists stay with us into their 90s. We need them.

  • nimitta says:

    A great artist has left us! I cherish those sublime performances we were granted in Boston with the BSO, including Schumann, Beethoven 3, and Mozart 23 & 24, as well as marvelous recordings of which there are all too few. Along with those mentioned above, I heard his late Brahms much as I imagine the composer might have, with an autumnal wisdom and wistfulness.

  • Paul Carlile says:

    I was lucky to hear him several times, solo, chamber or concerto… always a rich musical experience. One occasion stands out for me: A-S Mutter was programmed for the Dvorak Violin Concerto; i was anticipating for weeks….arriving at the RFH the dreaded annoncement: A-S Mutter, injured, will be replaced by Radu Lupu in Beethoven4. I was furious, having heard too many Beet4’s (and too many pianists generally!). But the first chords were the most perfect healing balm possible and the the whole interpretation a miracle, changing disappointment to joy and wonder.
    RIP, finest of musicians.

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    A great artist- heard him numerous times in concerti with the Philharmonia in London. He somewhat resembled a left over hippy from the 1970’s in demeanour & seated at a chair reclining back- rather than a piano stool- was unorthodox. But what a magic touch & calm musicality- there was no one quite like him.

  • Joel Kemelhor says:

    Never had the pleasure of hearing him in recital. His very first LP recording for Decca / London — Schubert and Brahms — remains a highlight of my vinyl collection. It’s on the turntable now.

  • Karl Bissinger says:

    Definitely one of the best. Very close to the top. I attended one of his live performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra some years ago. I was immediately hooked.

  • Gerard Bauer says:

    His recording of late Brahms Piano pieces is perhaps my top desert island disc. Just wish he’d recorded Op. 116.

  • M2N2K says:

    When I was listening to Radu Lupu – and I have experienced his performances both solo and with orchestra many times – he impressed me like no other pianist I have ever heard – and I have heard plenty of famous ones during the last six decades – with his unique ability of communicating to listeners – without any hint of attempting to dazzle – a truly meditative and philosophical conversation he seems to be having with each composer whose music he played, never trying to use his own brilliant personality to dominate that of the composer or using a piece to show off his genuinely considerable virtuosic skills, yet never becoming a mere servant of the composer – but on an equal basis as two wise musical geniuses talking about most profound issues of humanity. Thank you Radu very much for giving me so many unforgettable musical experiences – especially on those several occasions when I had the pleasure of making music together with you – and for always being such an unassuming and humble person with the most charming sense of humor.

  • Adolovni Acosta says:

    One of the greatest. I always admired his playing. We all will miss him.

  • christopher storey says:

    His unforgettable performance of Beethoven 3 in the 1969 Leeds Final has stayed with me for a lifetime .RIP Radu Lupu

  • James Tierney says:

    I used to listen to a BBC radio “quiz” program (My Music) in which the host would, among other things, ask panelists to identify pieces as they were being played. On one occasion, a panelist said, “I heard Radu Lupu play that piece most exquisitely the other night.” To which another panelist quipped, “Did he happen to mention the NAME of the piece?” A bit of respectful, light humor reflecting well on this gifted musician. RIP.