Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (January 5, 1920 – June 12, 1995) was an Italian classical pianist. He has been regarded as among the most commanding and individual piano virtuosos of the 20th century, among names such as Vladimir Horowitz and Sviatoslav Richter. He is often considered the most important Italian pianist after Ferruccio Busoni. Born in the province of Brescia, he began music lessons at the age of three, initially with the violin, but quickly switched to the piano. At ten he entered the Milan Conservatory. At the insistence of his father he studied medicine for a brief period of time. In 1938, at age 18, he began his international career by entering the Ysaÿe International Festival in Brussels, where he placed seventh. (A brief account of this competition, at which Emil Gilels took first prize, is given by Arthur Rubinstein, who was one of the judges. According to Rubinstein, Michelangeli gave an unsatisfactory performance, but already showed his impeccable technique.) A year later he earned first prize in the Geneva International Competition where he was acclaimed as a new Liszt by pianist Alfred Cortot, a presiding judge. Apart from his musical activities, Michelangeli claimed to have been a qualified doctor, pilot, racing car driver and member of the anti-Fascist resistance during the Second World War, although he is known to have served in the Italian armed forces. He also is said to have traced his ancestry back to St. Francis of Assisi. Michelangeli w...

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