Martha ArgerichGeneral Director piano
President , Argerich Arts Foundation
General Director , Music Festival Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu
Honorary Citizen of Oita Prefecture
Awardee of Prefectural Honor Aword of Oita Prefecture
Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She began piano lessons at the age of five, studying with Vincenzo Scaramuzza, and displayed her genius. When she was eight years old, Argerich made her debut as a pianist playing piano concertos composed by Mozart and Beethoven. In 1955, she moved with her family to Europe where she continued her studies with Magaloff, Gulda, Mrs. Lipatti, Stefan Askenase and Michelangeli. In 1957, Argerich won the Busoni and Geneva International Competitions, and then she began to give concerts actively. In 1965, she won First Prize at the Chopin Competition, which established her indisputable prestige as a pianist in the world. Since then, Argerich has been one of the most prominent pianists in the world in both popularity and ability.
Argerich’s repertoires range very widely to the extent they cover from Bach through Messiaen. She always has invitations from renowned orchestras, conductors and music festivals in Europe, Japan and the United States. Argerich has also made chamber music a significant part of her musical life. She regularly plays duos with violinist Gidon Kremer and cellist Mischa Maisky. Argerich also plays many pieces for two pianos and for four-hands with Nelson Freire and Alexandre Rabinovitch.
Since 1994, she has served as Honorary Music Director of the Philharmonia Hall at Beppu B-Con Plaza in Japan. In 1995, Argerich gave her first solo recital in ten years, which music fans around the world had waited for, at the “Beppu Argerich Concert ’95”. The Concert drew much attention throughout the world. In 1996, she was decorated with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (officier) by the Government of France. In 1997, Argerich was appointed as a member of Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. In December the same year, she became an honorary foreign citizen of Oita Prefecture.
Since 1996 Argerich has assumed the post of General Director of Beppu Argerich Music Festival, and played with artists from around the world, including those from Asia. She is also much interested in giving advice to young musicians and held her own Master Class at the Music Festival. Her innovative approach to music making continues to have an impact on music in Japan and the world.
In September 1999 the Martha Argerich International Piano Competition was launched in Buenos Aires. In 2001 Argerich was awarded the 2nd Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli International Prize from Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli International Piano Festival of Brescia Bergamo. From November 2001 the Martha Argerich Festival, Buenos Aires was held under her general direction as a sister festival to the Beppu Argerich Music Festival. The Progetto Martha Argerich was held at the Lugano Festival, Switzerland.
Argerich was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette from the Government of Japan, in commendation for her achievements through the Beppu Argerich Music Festival in 2005. In the same year, she also received the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association. In 2016 Argerich was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by the Government of Japan. The decoration was awarded for the achievements of her music activities for forty-six years in Japan since her first visit, and for contributions to the development of music culture and promotion of friendship and goodwill in Japan through the activities of the Argerich Arts Foundation. In the same year she also received the Kennedy Center Honors which praises achievements made in the field of culture and arts in the U.S. In October 2018, Argerich received an Italian Republic decoration “Commendator.” In May 2022, Argerich received the Prefectural Honor Award from Oita Prefecture for her great contribution to the promotion of the arts and culture in Oita Prefecture. In 2023, she received the Commandeur de la Legion d’honneur, France’s highest national decoration. In January 2024, Argerich was awarded the 13th Obayashi Prize from Obayashi Foundation in recognition of her achievements in contributing to society centered on art, her activities for sending out art and culture from Beppu to the world, and contributing to the regional vitalization, which has made an epochal inspiration for the future vision of a city.
Her CDs have been released by numerous labels such as Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, RCA, Sony, Philips, and Teldec, and she has received the Grammy Awards, Le Monde de la Musique CHOC Award, Grammophon Awards the Artist of the Year, and German Record Critics’ Annual Award, to name a just a few.
Argerich is the President of Argerich Arts Foundation.