Maurizio Pollini can look back on a long and impressive career: born into a Milanese family of artists in 1942, he studied piano, composition and conducting at the conservatory in his home town. After early success in competitions in Geneva and Seregno, he won first prize at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1960 and made his debut as a soloist in a concert directed by Sergiu Celibidache at La Scala in Milan playing Chopin’s First Piano Concerto. A real turning point, for the Italian’s piano playing, which always aimed for clarity of structure – the uniform illumination of the written music which requires perfect technical precision – caused as much a sensation as his unheard of soft touch with a bewilderingly sensitive sound.
Nevertheless the musician, with his wide range of interests, continued his training as a master student of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. To this day, he is haunted by the onerous realisation that a self-critical artist can spend all his life with the masterpieces of the piano repertoire without having the feeling of fully illuminating them. This has not harmed his unprecedented artistic career, which has taken Pollini to the world’s major music centres – including the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1970. On the contrary: after all, for a musician to humbly take a step back and put the music first should be one of the foremost characteristics of a world class pianist.
In addition to Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy and Liszt, his idols also include Chopin, who he once described as the composer closest to his heart, and whose works he has programmed in the second part of his recital. Before the interval, Pollini performs pieces by Chopin’s contemporary, Robert Schumann, including his Sonata in F minor, known as the “Concerto Without Orchestra”. like to be able to look forward to it”.