Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire died on October 31st in Rio de Janeiro. He was 77 years old. One of the representative pianists after the WWⅡ. He stumbled on a stone two years ago during a walk, broke his humerus, and then moved away from his playing activities.
He was born in 1944 in the small Brazilian city of Boa Esperança. He is the youngest of five siblings. His parents moved to Rio de Janeiro to educate him at the age of five when he realized that he had been playing the piano since he was three years old, imitating his sister’s playing.
In 1957, when he was 12 years old, he won the first prize at the Rio de Janeiro International Piano Competition, which was judged by Guiomar Novaes, Marguerite Long and Lili Kraus.
The following year, in 1958, he received a scholarship from the President of Brazil and went to the Vienna Conservatory to study under Friedrich Gulda’s teacher Bruno Seidlhofer.
He started his solo career in 1959 and won the 2nd “Vianna da Motta International Music Competition” in Lisbon in 1964. He made his London debut in 1966, when he was 22, with sensational success and was described by Times magazine as a “young keyboard lion.”
Since then, he has developed international activities. He has fascinated many music fans with his deeply refined sound, delicate, endlessly poetic and warm music.
He is also known for his friendship with Martha Argerich. The two, who have been acquainted with each other since their teens, often co-starred.
In addition to his performance activities, he has served as a jury for global competitions. He was also the chairman of the jury for the 2001 Long-Thibaud International Competition in Paris. In 2021, he became a jury for the 18th “Chopin International Piano Competition” but canceled due to poor physical condition, and Argerich also left the jury.
His life became the documentary film “A man and his music” directed by João Moreira Salles in 2003.
Although his recordings are few, he signed an exclusive contract with the “Decca” label in 2001, released the complete Brahms piano concerto in 2007, and won the concerto category of the British “Gramophone Award”.
Photo：Universal Music / Mat Hennek