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19 April 2022, 11:58 | Updated: 19 April 2022, 14:28
The celebrated piano player has died at his home in Switzerland.
Considered far and wide one of the greatest piano players of his generation, Romanian pianist Radu Lupu has died aged 76.
The news of his death was announced by the George Enescu International Festival and later confirmed by his manager, Jenny Vogel, who told NPR that Lupu had died “peacefully at his home in Switzerland from multiple prolonged illnesses”.
Born in Galați, Romania in 1945, Radu Lupu began learning to play the piano from the age of six, and made his concert debut aged 12, where he performed a composition of his own.
Lupu was an avid composer from a young age, revealing in an interview in 1970 that he considered himself first and foremost a composer, before turning his focus to performance just four years later.
Lupu studied piano at the Bucharest Conservatory and secured a scholarship to the Moscow Conservatory in 1961, where he continued his studies for seven years.
After winning first place at the Van Cliburn, George Enescu, and Leeds International Piano Competitions in his early 20s, Lupu’s six-decade career was launched on an astronomical trajectory which saw him perform with all of the world’s major orchestras and at all the major festivals.
Lupu also recorded much of the world’s favourite piano repertoire to great critical acclaim, with two Grammy Award nominations and one win in 1996.
Despite such success, Lupu ended his recording career in the mid-1990s and shied away from the public eye, declining to make any press appearances and withholding his recordings from on-air broadcast.
Read more: Radu Lupu among those recognised in New Year Honours 2016
After several years of cancelled performances due to ill health, Radu Lupu announced that he would be retiring from the stage in 2019. His final concert appearance in London took place in February that year, where he performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Paavo Järvi.
Radu Lupu praised fellow pianists Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, and Mieczysław Horszowski, holding them in high regard as inspirations for his own playing. Lupu himself is idolised by many of today’s eminent musicians, with tributes to the late musician pouring in on social media from Víkingur Ólafsson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Alexandra Dariescu, Igor Levit, Lars Vogt and more.
Rest in peace, beautiful soul. Forever alive and always in our hearts 🖤 #RaduLupu pic.twitter.com/CsMjFer4ia— Alexandra Dariescu (@alexdariescu) April 19, 2022
Devastated to hear that Radu Lupu has left us. Not only one of the greatest, warmest, most profound musicians I've ever heard, but also a deeply kind, compassionate, modest and humorous man - and a wonderful friend. He was ready to go, true; but he'll still be desperately missed. pic.twitter.com/s4X4qeXRTz— Steven Isserlis (@StevenIsserlis) April 18, 2022
In a tweet, cellist Steven Isserlis described Lupu as “not only one of the greatest, warmest, most profound musicians I’ve ever heard, but also a deeply kind, compassionate, modest and humorous man”, whilst pianist Antonio Oyarzabal described his playing as “the kind that changes lives”.
I saw Radu Lupu playing his last Beethoven 4th in London not too long ago - it was something so deeply special that I remember I couldn’t sleep afterwards. The kind of playing that changes lives. So saddened.— Antonio Oyarzabal - Pianist (@Aoyarzabalpiano) April 19, 2022