Nelson Freire

October 18, 1944 - Boa Esperança (Brazil) — November 1, 2021

© James McMillan

Born in Brazil in 1944, Nelson Freire studied with Nixe Obino and Lucia Branco. He gave his first recital at the age of five and aged twelve, he won the International Rio de Janeiro Comptition. He left for Vienna to perfect his studies with Bruno Seidlhofer and in 1964 in Lisbon, he won the first prize of the International Vianna de Motta Competition and the Dinu Lipatti and Harriet Cohen gold medals in London.

His international career began in 1959. He regularly played with the Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestsra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, French National Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, the Suisse Romande Orchestra and all the great American orchestras including the Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York and Philadelphia conducted by Pierre Boulez, Lorin Maazel, Charles Dutoit, Kurt Mazur, André Previn, David Zinman, Vaclav Neumann, Valery Gergiev, Rudolf Kempe. Nelson Freire was a regular guest at all the greatest festivals in Europe, the United States and Israel. He frequently performed as a duo with close friend Martha Argerich.

Freire recorded an extensive repertoire for CBS, Teldec, Philips and Deutsche Grammophon. His recording of Chopin’s twenty-four preludes was awarded the Edison Prize, and his sparkling renditions of the Chopin Nocturnes won a 2010 Diapason d'or. He passed away on November 1, 2021 at the age of 77 at his home in Rio de Janeiro, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most widely beloved classical artists of the last century, both on and offstage.

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