Menahem Pressler, the pianist and longtime leader of the Beaux Arts Trio, has died at 99.
Born in Magdeburg, Germany, Pressler began playing the piano at the age of 6. In 1938, following Kristallnacht, in which the Nazis beat and killed Germany’s Jews, ransacked their homes and businesses and burned their synagogues, Pressler, his parents and sister fled the country and made their to Haifa, the port city in what was then the British mandate of Palestine.
After he won a competition in 1946, Pressler moved to New York and began a solo career. In 1955, he joined the faculty of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and formed the Beaux Arts Trio with violinist Daniel Guilet and cellist Bernard Greenhouse. The ensemble recorded extensively; its discs of the standard piano-trio repertory are rated widely as definitive.
Pressler continued to lead the trio, with a succession of string players, until it disbanded in 2008, after which he continued to perform as a soloist and with various chamber groups. He remained active as a pianist and teacher well into his 90s.
An obituary by The New York Times’ Robert D. McFadden: