From the Library: A Tribute to Alicia de Larrocha

Today’s pro­gram is a trib­ute to the Span­ish pianist Ali­cia de Lar­rocha, who passed away last month on Sep­tem­ber 25. I am pre­sent­ing many pieces per­formed by Ms. de Lar­rocha, as well as Span­ish Clas­si­cal music and piano works played by the won­der­ful pianists from Mag­natune.

Here is her obit­u­ary from the Asso­ci­at­ed Press:

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Crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed Span­ish pianist dies at 86

By CIA­RAN GILES — Asso­ci­at­ed Press Writer

MADRID

Span­ish pianist Ali­cia de Lar­rocha, who thrilled music lis­ten­ers for decades with pol­ished and enthralling inter­pre­ta­tions of great clas­si­cal works and Span­ish mas­ters, has died aged 86.

Mea­sur­ing just under 5 foot (1.52 meters), and with unusu­al­ly small hands for a piano vir­tu­oso, de Lar­rocha won lis­ten­ers over with the rich­ness and robust­ness of her sound.

Crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed for her tech­nique in per­form­ing Mozart, Beethoven, Schu­man and Rach­mani­nov, de Lar­rocha was also seen as unri­valed in her inter­pre­ta­tion of Span­ish com­posers such as Manuel de Fal­la as well as mas­ters from her native Cat­alo­nia like Enrique Grana­dos and Isaac Alb­eniz.

Gre­gor Benko, a piano music expert, music pro­duc­er and fam­i­ly friend, con­firmed her death. Benko said de Lar­rocha had been in poor health for two years, since break­ing her hip. She died late Fri­day in a Barcelona hos­pi­tal.

De Lar­rocha retired from pub­lic per­for­mances in 2003 after 75 years as a pro­fes­sion­al pianist.

Born in Barcelona on May 23, 1923, she began play­ing piano at the age of 3, and two years lat­er gave her debut pub­lic per­for­mance dur­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Expo­si­tion in Barcelona. Four years lat­er an eager music indus­try had pressed and mar­ket­ed her first vinyl record.

The daugh­ter and niece of pianists, as a child de Lar­rocha received class­es from renowned teach­ers such as Frank Mar­shall, him­self a dis­ci­ple of the pianist Enrique Grana­dos, and the­o­rist Ricar­do Lam­ote de Grignon.

De Lar­rocha was invit­ed to play at Barcelon­a’s Palau de la Musi­ca when only 6, and by age 11 she was already a soloist with the Madrid Sym­pho­ny Orches­tra.

By the time she was 20, she was play­ing to full hous­es around Spain, dis­play­ing a style and skill that tran­scend­ed her age. In 1947 she began to make an impres­sion on the Euro­pean cir­cuit, and was soon play­ing all the major musi­cal cen­ters.

De Lar­rocha’s style com­bined poet­ic inter­pre­ta­tion, grace­ful­ness and sub­tle­ty with tech­ni­cal vir­tu­os­i­ty and remark­able focus, which enabled her to pro­duce a beau­ti­ful­ly lay­ered sound capa­ble of grand, tem­pera­men­tal flour­ish­es.

She made her first trip to the Unit­ed States in 1955, invit­ed by Alfred Wallestein, and toured with the Los Ange­les Phil­har­mon­ic. It was this tour that allowed her to break through to gain recog­ni­tion as one of the world’s most out­stand­ing pianists.

De Lar­rocha went on to become a reg­u­lar per­former at New York’s Lin­coln Cen­ter, fea­tur­ing in its pres­ti­gious Most­ly Mozart Fes­ti­val and inter­preters series.

Over the years she was award­ed myr­i­ad prizes, includ­ing the Prince of Asturias Prize in 1994, Com­man­der of the Order of Arts and Let­ters in Paris in 1988 and the Paderews­ki Memo­r­i­al Medal. She was award­ed hon­orary doc­tor­ates by the uni­ver­si­ties of Michi­gan, Mid­dle­bury Col­lege-Ver­mont and Carnegie Mel­lon.

Her record­ings earned her four Gram­mies and numer­ous oth­er prizes in Europe.

She was mar­ried to the late Span­ish pianist Juan Tor­ra, with whom she had two chil­dren.

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Radio Riel pro­duces this pro­gram in con­junc­tion with the Alexan­dri­an Free Library Con­sor­tium of Sec­ond Life. You can lis­ten to the pro­gram now at http://main.radioriel.org . Today’s music orig­i­nates from the music library of Gabrielle Riel.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Alexan­dri­an Free Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Con­sor­tium mem­bers in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Alexan­dri­an Free Library web­site, or one of their branch­es in-world.

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