The pianist who played on through heart failure has died

The pianist who played on through heart failure has died


norman lebrecht

May 12, 2022

We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Alexander Toradze, the phenomenal Georgian pianist, who suffered heart failure while performing a Shostakovich concerto but played right on to the end.

Lexo was a few days short of 70.

A great bear of a man, he hung out with Valery Gergiev in the early 90s (when I knew him) before taking a professorship in Indiana and opting for a peripatetic solo career.

He will be sorely missed.

The conductor Gerard Schwarz writes: Last night, May 10th, a great artist and great man, Alexander Toradze died in South Bend, Indiana. I’ve known Lexo for over forty years and have made music with him with repertoire from Mozart and Beethoven, the great Russian romantics, Ravel and many other important works. In each instance, he performed with extraordinary technique, beautiful sound, and the most imaginative interpretations I have ever heard. Whenever I heard him play a concerto, his interpretation stayed with me every time I did that work, no matter who played.

Lexo was a dear friend to our whole family and was loved by us all. His warmth, curiosity, generosity, sense of humor, and brilliance were appreciated by us all with admiration and love. He recently played a thrilling performance of the Ravel concerto with the Palm Beach Symphony, and we were all so excited and looking forward to his Prokofiev 3rd concerto at the Eastern Music Festival this coming July. What a great loss to me, my family, and the wonderful music loving public, who so admired him.


  • Maria says:

    May he rest in peace after all he’s been through.

  • LolaViola says:

    He was, indeed, a very caring and generous man. I will treasure his memory.

  • Rob says:

    Maybe his past with Gergiev combined with the present caught up with him ?

    They played alot of Prokofiev together, a composer known for sarcasm.

    • Alan Karnovitz says:

      “Maybe his past with Gergiev combined with the present caught up with him ?”

      What a gratuitously nasty and uncivil comment. What is wrong with individuals who cannot avoid using every opportunity to demonstrate their ill will to all those within earshot or website viewing? The man was a terrific artist who hung out with Gergiev 30 years ago when most readers of this blog were likely admirers of the formerly well respected conductor!!

    • Fliszt says:

      Completely ridiculous assertion.

    • Anonymous says:

      Once you die ppl on Slippedisc will say your tasteless comments here caught up with you. Enjoy

    • Music lover says:

      Oh my……

    • esfir ross says:

      When AT defected to USA 1991 his father was so harassed by KGB that he died of heart attack. AT was harassed at Indiana university, had to take unpaid leaves.
      Era of J.McCarthy come back.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    We used to hear him fairly often with the Milwaukee Symphony — he seemed to be a favorite soloist of then-music director Zdeněk Mácal. I don’t remember if Toradze returned once Mácal left town. That happens.

    I was not there but I think it was Toradze who was soloist during a memorable MSO concert where the lights went out on stage during the final five minutes or so of the concerto being played, quite possibly Rach 3, and both soloist and orchestra finished the piece in the dark, more or less from memory. Whether Mácal kept conducting in the dark I have no idea!

  • Austin Hewitt says:

    The fact that he played on through heart failure to finish the piece is true dedication. RIP Toradze!

  • Patricia H Miller says:

    I’m so saddened at the death of Lexo. He was hugely complimentary to me, a nobody choral singer and always greeted me with a kiss. RIP dear Lexo.

  • Tom says:

    What a magnificent pianist and ultimate performer! May he Rest in Peace!

  • Margarita Arroyo says:

    Sólo la música puede dar sentido al vacío en que nos dejan seres tan extraordinarios.

  • Jacqueline says:

    So sorry to hear of Mr. Toradze’s death. He was a very talented pianist that I enjoyed listening to. God bless and R.I.P.

  • Peter Schünemann says:

    One of Valery Gergiev’s closest friends, Alexander Toradze was since 1993 regular guest at his Mikkeli Music Festival and fascinated the audience with his highly individual interpretations of works by Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Sciabin, Ravel and Mozart. We were lucky having heard him in Mikkeli at least 22 times from 1993 to 2019.
    Dear Lexo, thanks for everything. You will not be forgotten.
    R. I. P.

  • Belinda Drake says:

    Oh LORD, l’m shattered. My heart goes out to his family, friends & followers. This man was an inspiration to me; the ANGELS are privileged to have him join them, where he will play up there with the greats. RIP SWEET MAN. You’ve actually inspired me to become better. Thank you for your beautiful & astounding playing. You have left us with a BEAUTIFUL LEGACY. ✨

  • Lisa Schuttler says:

    He came to the Evansville (IN) Philharmonic while still in his 20s. I was young but profoundly moved. He was brought back about 30 years later by demand. I am so saddened.

  • Ana says:

    What a terrible loss. Great pianist.

  • MacroV says:

    I know one should not speak ill of the recently departed, and I’m sure Mr. Toradze was a fine man. But the first time I heard him, about 30 years ago in Seattle, he played the Tchaikovsky #1 and it was unbearable. I don’t know why, but he just tortured the poor piece – lots of banging and excessive twisting of phrases – to the point that I almost walked out, for the only time in my concertgoing life (Interestingly, he’d played it with the NY Phil a couple weeks earlier the review conveyed the same impression). But the audience loved it, furthering my cynicism – it’s “loud and fast” that usually gets people. (By comparison, a luminous Berg Concerto with Franco Gulli in the same era just got a little polite applause and a clear audience desire that he quickly exit the stage).

    But he was a favorite of Gerry
    Schwarz, so kept getting invited back. IIRC Prokofiev 2 a couple years later was a better experience. I imagine he tamed a bit as he aged, and clearly many people who knew him loved him, which is what really matters.

  • Joel Levine says:

    I accompanied him in Rach 2nd. When we left the stage, he burst into tears and cried and cried. “”This performance was all for my father,” was all he could say. A fantastic man and artist.

  • Tutue says:

    Another death!