Episode 62: Great Chopinists: Maurizio Pollini

Nocturne in F-sharp minor, Op. 48, No. 2

rc-pollini-200He won the Warsaw International Chopin competition at age 18—the youngest competitor to ever do so. Then Maurizio Pollini went back to the practice room.

Maurizio Pollini gave his first concert at age eleven, in Milan. Then he studied at the Milan Conservatory. Next, he won the Ettore Pozzoli Piano Competition in his homeland. In 1960 he went on to beat out a field of 89 other competitors to win First Prize at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. At just 18, he felt he had triumphed before he had really toiled. He didn’t believe he was ready to play on the world’s great concert stages, so he returned to the practice room. It was another eight years before he made his American debut….though it WAS in Carnegie Hall. And his first recording came in 1971, when Pollini was nearly 30.

Pollini’s Chopin reputation was sealed, however, with the 1973 release of Chopin’s complete etudes, a recording that left critics searching for superlatives: “flawless technique;” “steely precision,” “probing intellect,” “uncanny insight.” It was a prize-winner on four continents.

Since then, Pollini has recorded all of Chopin’s works and the prizes continue to pile up, most recently a 2007 Grammy award for his recording of Chopin’s nocturnes. Pollini says: “My love for the music of Chopin has become greater and greater for years, perhaps because I understand better this music… Chopin is an innately seductive composer.” Gino Pollini, Maurizio Pollini’s father, was an architect by profession and a violinist by avocation. Structure, line, and style inform the critical reputation of his son, who’s earned lasting fame as a great Chopinist for his impeccably crafted recordings and performances. - Frank Dominguez & Benjamin K. Roe

Radio Chopin Episode 62: Great Chopinists, Maurizio Pollini

Nocturne in F-sharp minor, Op. 48, No. 2