Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli as I Knew Him

by Lidia Kozubek (Author)
©2015 Monographs 148 Pages


This book explores the artistic principles of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, his concert activities, his art of piano playing, as well as his pedagogy and his attitude towards his students. The author presents the biographical data of the artist as well as the list of his recordings and introduces this extraordinary artist to a wider audience, especially to admirers of beautiful music and its performers. The book aims at encouraging in particular the young to follow the high artistic principles required in such a refined and unique art.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • How I Met Michelangeli
  • Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli at Close Quarters
  • Artistic Views and Principles
  • Concert Activity
  • The Repertoire and its Preparation
  • Michelangeli’s Performance Art and Playing Style
  • Michelangeli’s Teaching Method
  • Our Maestro and His Pupils
  • Michelangeli’s Pianistic Art — Top Achievement of Contemporary Musical Performance Culture
  • A Few Biographical Notes on Michelangeli
  • Major Recordings Authorized by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
  • Sources Cited
  • Illustrations
  • Series Index

How I Met Michelangeli

I first came into contact with the art of this great pianist many years ago — long before his visit to Poland. It was on the occasion of a radio broadcast of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor. I was struck not only by his beautiful name — evoking the great artists of the Renaissance, but also by the unusual warmth of the performance, especially as at that time I was under the influence of ‘objective’ performance aesthetics.

A further encounter with Michelangeli’s art came with the concerts he gave in Warsaw in 1955. He was then one of the jurors for the International Chopin Competition.

We were all riveted by the very first bars of Bach’s Chaconne, as adapted by Busoni. Then we heard a dazzling version of Beethoven’s Sonata in C major Op. 2, passed through a vigorously youthful and fiery rendering of Schumann’s Carnival Pranks in Vienna Op. 26, to be finally enraptured by Brahms’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini! I remember how a silent shiver ran through the balcony of the National Philharmonic Hall, where I had my seat directly behind the jurors, all famous artists who gave their own recitals after the auditions for the competition contestants. One after the other, they expressed their ecstatic joy and undisguised amazement that such a thing as Arturo Benedetti Michel- angeli’s pianism could exist on this earth. It was a reaction of astonishment mixed with absolute rapture. The artist was called back many times, and gave several encores, consisting of Scarlatti’s Sonata, Mompou’s Canzona e Danza, and Chopin’s Waltz in E flat ← 9 | 10 → major, which had only recently been discovered and published. However, the audience did not want to let the artist go, and with continuous applause and ovations forced him to give further displays from the stage. Finally, the piano was closed up, but even that was of little help, and so some of the lights in the hall were extinguished. But the audience remained riveted to their seats, so moved were they by the rich sensations of such brilliant playing. And I had heard the embodiment of my artistic ideal!

With great reluctance, the audience began at last to disperse. Knowing the layout of the building — and despite the fact that the door leading to the dressing rooms had been shut — I managed, along with a small group of musicians, to make my way backstage; and together with Professor Zbigniew Drzewiecki and several of the competition contestants, we stood spellbound in front of the artist’s room, not daring to cross the threshold. Michelangeli smiled at us, as we stood there in silence.

During that same 1955 Chopin Competition, I had the opportunity to observe the jurors during the auditions. I saw their reactions to the musical performances of the contestants. Some of the judges conferred with each other, others listened long and intently to the young performers before reaching their decisions. Benedetti Michelangeli wrote down his assessment of each participant after only a few moments, and did not alter it afterwards. I was surprised that he was able to evaluate the performance of a work so rapidly. It was only later, when I became one of his pupils, that I came to understand why.

Following the competition, I dreamed of being able to study with Michelangeli, and when I learned that he conducted summer courses in piano instruction, I felt I really wanted to take part in them. But realization of this desire was not so easy! In order to acquire the Maestro’s consent to my participation, I decided to prepare myself for a piano competition in Naples, since that was the only way I could obtain a passport at that time. ← 10 | 11 →

After the competition, and after roaming around Italy in search of the Maestro, I finally found him at Bolzano. Following a brief conversation — unforgettable for me — I secured a promise of an invitation to the summer course. This was in April 1958, and the course was to begin in July. I had performed miracles in order to fulfil my ardent desire: no doubt that was why the Maestro once called me an ‘enchantress’.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Pianistic Art International Chopin Competition Guido D'Arezzo International Polyphonic Competition Performance Art and Playing Style
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 148 pp., 41 b/w fig.

Biographical notes

Lidia Kozubek (Author)

Lidia Kozubek, pianist, pedagogue, musicologist; debut in 1949 working with Polish philharmonic orchestras; graduation from the Music Academy in Katowice; M.Ph. in musicology at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow; studies at the Music Academy in Warsaw; several radio and TV recordings; participation in International Courses of the Pianistic Perfection and Interpretation in Arezzo (Italy); participation in international festivals; repertoire: all musical styles from ancient to contemporary music with a focus on the work of Polish composers.


Title: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli as I Knew Him
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152 pages