Nelson Freire (1944-2021)

Nelson Freire, the esteemed Brazilian pianist and longtime duo-piano partner of Martha Argerich, has died at 77.

Freire, initially trained in Brazil and then in Vienna, was often described as a pianist of poetic sensibility, although he played a number of virtuoso finger-busters as well as repertory requiring more subtlety of technique and interpretation.

Among his many recordings, his duo performances with Argerich, notably of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Brahms’ “Variations on a Theme by Haydn,” and of the Brahms piano concertos with Riccardo Chailly conducting the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, were among the most celebrated.

Famously publicity-shy, Freire was more of a star among fellow pianists and piano connoisseurs than the broader public.

An obituary by Maddy Shaw Roberts for the Classic FM website:

“The important thing is the experience of life, and today there are fewer opportunities to live a full life that allows a natural expression of music,” Freire told Luis Sunen in a 2019 interview, posted on the International Classical Music Awards website. “I know from experience that without life there is no music.”

Nelson Freire: ‘I have lived seven different lives’

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