“This is piano-playing of a stature that few artists of his generation could have come near approaching”. This is what the famous music critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote about the Romanian genius pianist Dinu Lipatti.
The way Lipatti played Waltzes by Frédéric Chopin made lovers of Classic piano tunes melt. He did not play Beethoven much. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach were the composers in the center of Lipatti’s work, along with his fellow country man George Enescu, Franz Liszt, Robert Schuman, Edvard Grieg and Maurice Ravel.
Dinu Lipatti’s official first name was actually Constantin, but the childhood diminutive prevailed. Both of his parents were musicians. When he was born into this family exactly 100 years ago, on March 19th, 1917, it was clear he would become one as well. But his gift was not a foregone conclusion.
At age 13, Dinu Lipatti was celebrated after playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. The standing ovations just would not stop.
The “absolute purity” of his interpretations was what Lipatti was admired for. His masterful technique on the piano lead to the fact that people could not get enough of his sounds. This included both amateurs and music professionals.
“This wasn’t just piano playing. It was music, detached from any gravity”, the late conductor Herbert von Karajan once said about Lipatti.
Things were not easy at all for the genius pianist. World War II basically stopped his career for quite a while. When the war came closer to his native Romania, he fled the country with his sweetheart, the fellow pianist Madeleine Cantacuzene. They went to Switzerland and married. But he fell ill.
In 1947, Lipatti was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. He could not play that much anymore. His last recital took place on September 16th, 1950. Three months later, on December 2nd, 1950, Dinu Lipatti died, at age 33.
Like all victims of bad illnesses, he should have lived. Lipatti would have given the world more of the most brilliant sounds.