Death of a disappointed piano star

Death of a disappointed piano star


norman lebrecht

May 10, 2022

We have been informed of the death this week of Minoru Nojima, president of the Tokyo College of Music.
He was 76.

A child prodigy, Minoru was visibly upset when he came second to Cristina Ortiz in the 1969 Van Cliburn Competition. His reaction can be seen on this video, at 3:02.

Later he became a victim of the Joyce Hatto fraud.

Not a lucky man, but an outstanding artist. Watch.


  • Frank says:

    I hate to say it but I don’t see any “visibly upset” in that backstage video when the winners are called. What I see is a guy who keeps his cool and congratulates an exsultant Ortiz.

  • RW2013 says:

    Immer nur lächeln und immer vergnügt,
    Immer zufrieden, wie’s immer sich fügt.
    Lächeln trotz Weh und tausend Schmerzen,
    Doch wie’s da drin aussieht, geht niemand etwas an.

  • M McAlpine says:

    I can’t see anything about him being ‘visibly upset’ although he was no doubt naturally disappointed. He appeared to keep his dignity very well and congratulated the winner afterwards.
    As to the Hatto scandal, he was one of the many who included such luminaries as Ashkenazy and Hamelin.

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    I must confess to knowing little or next to nothing of Nojima. But from the evidence of his Liszt Mephisto Waltz- a very brilliant pianist & deserving Cliburn laureate.

  • Roland Anthony says:

    Why does Lebrecht always put such a negative spin on everything? It seems to me that Nojima reacts with good form to his loss.

  • Harpist says:

    Not seeing a visible upset guy but a great 2d placed one happy for#1

  • Bill says:

    I spent many hours enjoying his Liszt album on Reference Recordings.

  • nimitta says:

    Me too, Bill, along with his superb ‘Nojima Plays Ravel’. Minoru Nojima was a wonderful pianist whose reaction to a 2nd place finish in the ’69 Cliburn competition was both generous and graceful.

  • Kev says:

    Upset would be setting the piano on fire. Which he did playing Brahms.

  • Andrew T. says:

    Does Ortiz actually get up from the piano before the conductor has finished conducting the work?!! As if to say “I’m done. That’s all that matters here.” One of the most outrageous things I’ve ever seen!

  • Nelson says:

    What an utterly idiotic take on his death…to dredge up some half-baked reaction that seemingly only you had. I guess you’re laughing all the way to the bank as we all fall for the click-bait, as usual.