Music mourns a humble star

Music mourns a humble star


norman lebrecht

September 06, 2022

Artists and listeners the world over have been shocked by the sudden death yesterday of the German pianist and conductor Lars Vogt. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2021 and confronted the disease and its treatment with frankness, courage and humour. The end was swift and unexpected. The loss is universal.

Our colleague Zsolt Bognar has launched a fundraiser to help Lars’s family. You can contribute here.

UPDATE: Friends mark Lars’s birthday

These are some other responses today:

Matthias Goerne: We will miss you tremendously, Lars.

Alan Gilbert: Sad beyond words. Lars was truly a giant among people, and one of the greatest musicians I have known.

Igor Levit: Awful.

Thomas Quasthoff: I am very sad because a wonderful person, a great musician and pianist left us forever, way too soon! You were free of any star allure, so it was a great pleasure to play music with you. I will miss you endlessly and never forget you. My thoughts with great condolences are with his family.

Víkingur Ólafsson:

Daniel Hope: I met Lars Vogt the first time in 1990 at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. He was 19 at the time and jumped in to replace Sviatoslav Richter. His playing was nothing short of revelatory. I will never forget the beauty of his sound and the honest depth of his interpretation.

Steven Isserlis: Beyond sad that we have lost our beloved Lars Vogt. It is impossible to imagine a more warm-hearted, life-loving being – he will leave a vast hole in the lives of all his friends and colleagues, not to mention his family. Thank you for all the happiness you brought us, dear Lars.

Karin Hendrickson: My heart breaks. 💔Getting the call I was selected as Assistant Conductor to #LarsVogt while he was Music Director for Royal Northern Sinfonia-indescribable honor. He welcomed me with warmth and respect and his musical energy/depth lead us all. A great colleague and I will forever remember you. Our endless discussions during recording your Brahms Concerti will undoubtably show up in my future performances. We have lost one of the best.

Bradley Creswick (ex-leader Royal Northern Sinfonia): All of us at Royal Northern Sinfonia are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Lars Vogt. A regular guest in our programmes at Sage Gateshead and beyond as both conductor and exceptional solo pianist, Lars was also Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Music Director from 2015-2020 and had since been a Principal Artistic Partner of the orchestra.

This great music maker cared not only about creating exceptional music on stage, but was deeply passionate about the power of music and the arts beyond auditoria – sharing our belief that music really can change lives in our communities, and we strive to uphold this enthusiasm in all that we do. We share the sorrow and loss felt by his family, friends, collaborators and audiences and send our deepest condolences to those around him.

Marc-André Hamelin: What immense sadness to lose a wonderful, kind artist and beautiful soul

Gabriela Montero: The musical world is devastated by the passing of the wonderful German pianist and friend, Lars Vogt. Just days ago, we were texting each other wanting to finally meet in person. I was hoping to make my way to Germany to visit him. I thought there would be enough time

Julian Rachlin: I am completely devastated by the news that my friend Lars Vogt is no longer with us. What a kind and generous soul and most sensitive musician.

Julia Hagen: Seldom has a musician moved me the way Lars Vogt did. His playing was like himself: honest, genuine, incredibly warm, open, not boastful, with a depth and warmth that I’ve rarely experienced. Always seeing the good in others, insane.

Alexander Liebreich: I’m so sad that you left, dear Lars. Your music touched me so much and you were an incredible human being, always there to walk us and I a piece. From Munich via Poland to Valencia. I will never forget you!

Cornelius Meister: Lars Vogts feinfühliges, kenntnisreiches und sprühendes Musizieren bleiben in meinem Gedächtnis ebenso wie die Erinnerung an seine Warmherzigkeit und menschliche Nähe.

Paavo Järvi: R.I.P. Lars Vogt. We will always love you and we will never forget you!


  • Amos says:

    My favorite conductor often discussed trying to find the right balance between head and heart in performing pieces. This recording of the first movement of the Brahms D minor concerto played & led by Mr. Vogt is imo a prime example of succeeding in that quest and expresses as only music can a portion of what has been lost in his passing.

    • soavemusica says:

      Brahms seems to have held a special place in his heart, a great musician.

      From the German Requiem:

      “Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras,
      und alle Herrlichkeit des Menschen
      wie des Grases Blumen.
      Das Gras ist verdorret und die Blume abgefallen.

      So seid nun geduldig, lieben Brüder,
      bis auf die Zukunft des Herrn.

      Siehe, ein Ackermann wartet
      auf die köstliche Frucht der Erde
      und is geduldig darüber,
      bis er empfahe den Morgenregen und Abendregen.

      Aber des Herrn Wort bleibet in Ewigkeit.

      Die Erlöseten des Herrn werden wieder kommen,
      und gen Zion kommen mit Jauchzen;
      ewige Freude wird über ihrem Haupte sein;
      Freude und Wonne werden sie ergreifen
      und Schmerz und Seufzen wird weg müssen.

  • Tim Cattermole says:

    Very sad to hear this huge loss of one of the best pianists taken far too early. I remember being moved by hearing his rendition of the Chopin nocturne C# minor as an encore in 2009 Berlin philharmonie, the best performance I’ve ever seen of this beautiful piece!

  • John Dietmann says:

    Yes,losing such an artist in his prime and with so much more yet to be given is very sad. Listening now to his Ondine Mendelssohn piano concertos cd streaming on Qobuz thru my stereo system, supports my assertion. Fortunately Qobuz has all his cd’s many of which are already on my favourites list.

    • Dave hasse vogt says:

      Don’t use someones passing to shamelessly plug Qobuz!

      • John Dietmann says:

        So sorry that you found my mention of Qobuz offensive.
        I do not own a cd player and being 85 and retired purchasing cd’s is not a budgetary option. But a monthly streaming subscription is the price of on classical cd. My favourites on the service are not purchases, but available when required. Years ago I chose Qobuz because then it was the only hi-res flac streamer.

  • EJ-Arts says:

    Heartbreaking. In the early days of my first job at Harold Holt sitting opposite a very keen young artist manager there was palpable excitement in the office as this young prize-winning star of the Leeds was being so happily applauded ‘in-house’ by a very impressed Sir Simon Rattle. And Lars was to be Celia Willis’s first signing. Artist Manager and artist formed a great partnership and I know enjoyed a true collaboration until the last. This must be so painful for his beloved family and his musical family. The loss will rock our world for a long time to come. We are so lucky in this life, that Lars’ beautiful music-making and spirit will remain in his memory.

  • DCB says:

    This is tragic. What a wonderful and thoughtful musician. I just watched his interview several weeks ago on the Living the Classical Life Channel from July 2022.

    • Fsm says:

      I must check that interview out, thanks very much for pointing his appearance out on that program.

      I only recently learned of him , before I heard he was ill,on TV stream. Definitely seemed to be an impressive and unique musician. Then heard him play Grieg and Rachmaninoff #2 on BBC radio 3, both were outstanding and ear opening live recent performances. Very shocking and sad to learn of his untimely passing. I will continue to explore his music making on disc and remember him. Thank-you.

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    How very sad- to be taken so young- with so much more to offer the musical world. I never heard him live- but often listened to his recordings. A first rate pianist- but a first rate musician first. Classic FM often had on its ‘playlist’ his recording of the Emperor Concerto with him directing The Northern Sinfonia from the keyboard. I’ve rarely heard the slow movement played so beautifully & plenty of fireworks in the finale. To think he first came to attention as a prize winner in the Leeds competition only 30 years ago- Simon Rattle describing him as one of the greatest musicians he’d ever worked with. Deeply tragic in a way & a reminder that life is so short.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Lars Vogt was a beautiful pianist, conductor, and musician. A true artist.

  • Dario says:

    Music travels in space, so his notes are traveling through the Universe…..