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How was Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli's childhood?
The famous pianist and educator Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli began taking music lessons at the age of three. At first he was a violinist, but soon switched to piano. At the age of four, he joined the Istituto Musicale Venturi under the direction of Paolo Chimeri. At the age of 10, he entered the Concerto of Milan where he studied piano and composition with Giovanni Anfossi and the cello with Renzo Francesconi. Graduated as a soloist at 13 (or 14).
At the request of his father, he studied medicine for a short period. In 1938, at the age of 18, he participated in the International Ysaye Festival in Brussels, where he took seventh place and began his international career. A brief description of the competition in which Gilels won first prize is given by Arthur Rubinstein, one of the judges.
He had already demonstrated his impeccable technique. In 1939, he won the first prize at the prestigious Geneva International Competition.
What kind of life did Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli lead as an artist?
From 1941 to 1943, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli served in the Italian Air Force before joining the anti-fascist partisan movement. Although he was captured by the German occupation forces, he quickly escaped and continued his career until Italy was fully liberated.
At the end of World War II in 1945, he performed in his hometown and played piano and violin. In 1946, he made his first tour of Europe. In 1946 he played for England and in 1948 he was invited to America for the first time. In 1949, he was invited to participate in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the death of Frederic Chopin in Warsaw. In the following years, he performed regularly in some of the most important musical centers world, acquiring a legendary reputation as a virtuoso. Unfortunately, he also has a reputation for canceling engagements at the last minute.
However, when he performed, his concerts were always sold out and he received standing ovations from audiences and critics alike. In 1960, he performed the concert "Emperor" by Lv Beethoven for the Pope at the Vatican. After a health break in his career, he returned to the concert stage in 1964 during a tour of Russia.
In 1965, he was one of the first Western artists to give numerous concerts in Asia. He then moved on to the United States, Israel, and again to Germany. In 1964 he founded the International Piano Festival of Brescia-Bergamo and was its artistic director for about three years.
In addition, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli devoted himself to teaching. In 1939 he was appointed professor and composer at the Conservatory of Bologna. His fame quickly spread to the musical world and he was then appointed to the Conservatory of Venice and the Conservatory of Bolzano. From 1964 to 1969 he directed his own piano academy in Brescia.
After that, he devoted most of his time to teaching. He also gave master classes in Arezzo, Siena, Turin and Lugano. His students included Martha Argerich and Maurizio Pollini. A generous man, he financed each student out of his own income and claimed that music is an inalienable right of the gifted and a gift.
In what year did Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli die?
In 1968, after the bankruptcy of the BDM record company, of which Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli was a partner, the Italian authorities seized two of his pianos. He never excused Italy's anger. Although he never changed his official residence in Bolzano, he voluntarily fled Italy and from 1970 he settled first in Zurich and then in the Swiss canton of Ticino.
For some years, since August 1979, he has been living in a small villa in Pura, near Ponte Tresa. His house was acoustically insulated and you couldn't even hear him from outside. Was this another tribute to his mad need for privacy and solitude?
He made a few official trips to Italy, a concert at the Vatican in April 1977, abroad from Italy at the Sala della Benedizione, and returning to the Vatican in June 1987. He played in the city-state at the invitation of Sara Nervi of Pope Paul VI. A memorable performance in support of the Knights of Malta, in 1980 in his hometown of Brescia in memory of his compatriot Pope John XXXIII, and again in 1987 at the Vatican.
He began advertising in the Times of London in 1993 at his own expense and cancelled four advertised concerts because the organizers allowed about 420 Italians to buy tickets. He gave his last public concert in London in 1990.
On October 17, 1988, during a concert in Bordeaux, during the performance of Ondine by Debussy, he suffered an aortic aneurysm. The audience reported that he simply stopped playing, lifted his hands from the keyboard, but let the chords hang in the air. He then turned around and called his assistant, who then led him slowly off the stage.
However, Benedetti Michelangeli returned to the stage and recording the following season. He died in Lugano, Switzerland, seven years later, on June 12, 1995, of a chronic illness. According to his will, neither the cause nor the exact time of his death is known. He was buried in the small cemetery of Pura, near Lugano, without a tombstone.