MARTHA ARGERICH was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She began her first piano lessons at the age of five with Vincenzo Scaramuzza. Considered a child prodigy, she was soon performing in public. In 1955, she moved to Europe and continued her studies in London, Vienna, and Switzerland with Seidlhofer, Gulda, Magaloff, Lipatti, and Stefan Askenase. In 1957, she won the Bolzano and Geneva Piano Competitions, and in 1965 the Warsaw International Chopin Competition. Since then, she has been one of the most prominent pianists in the world both in popularity and ability.
Martha Argerich is highly rated for her performance of virtuoso piano literature from the 19th and 20th centuries. Her large repertoire includes Bach, Bartók, Beethoven, and Messiaen, as well as Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Franck, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch, and Tchaikovsky.
Though Argerich is continuously engaged by the most prestigious orchestras, conductors, and music festivals in Europe, Japan, and America, chamber music makes up a significant part of her musical life. She regularly plays and records with pianists Nelson Freire and Alexandre Rabinovitch, cellist Mischa Maisky, and violonist Gidon Kremer, saying, “This harmony within a group of people gives me a strong and peaceful feeling.”
Martha Argerich has recorded for EMI, Sony, Philips, Teldec, DGG, with many of her performances being broadcast on television worldwide. She has received many awards, including a Grammy for her recording of Bartók and Prokofiev concertos, Gramophone’s Artist of the Year” and “Best Piano Concerto Recording of the Year” (Chopin concertos) awards, a Choc du Monde de la Musique for her Amsterdam recital, “Künstler des Jahres Deutscher Schallplatten Kritik” and a Grammy for Prokofiev’s Cinderella with Mikhael Pletnev, a Grammy for her Beethoven Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Claudio Abbado (DGG / Best Instrumental Soloist Performance), Sunday Times’ “Record of the Year,” and a BBC Music Magazine award for her Shostakovitch recording (EMI – 2007).
Since 1998 she has been the Artistic Director of the Beppu Festival in Japan, and in 1999 she created the International Piano Competition and Martha Argerich Festival in Buenos Aires. In June 2002 she founded the Martha Argerich Project in Lugano.
Martha Argerich has received numerous distinctions, including the French Government’s “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres” in 1996 and “Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” in 2004; “Musician of the Year” by Musical America in 2001; “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette” by the Japanese Emperor; and the prestigious “Praemium Imperiale” by the Japan Art Association in 2005. In December 2016 she was awarded at the Kennedy Center Honors by President Barack Obama.