Martha Argerich has been named as the latest recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal, one of the most prestigious awards in music. The Argentinian pianist joins a prestigious list of winners that includes the composers Brahms, Elgar, Rachmaninov and Richard Strauss, and fellow pianists Anton Rubinstein, Myra Hess and Claudio Arrau.
First awarded in 1871, the RPS’s Gold Medal is presented to musicians who have made an outstanding contribution to music over a large number of years. Though awarded on roughly an annual basis, there are some years in which more than one Gold Medal recipient is named, and some when none at all are. Other recent recipients include pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff and conductor Antonio Pappano.
Argerich has long enjoyed a reputation as not just one of the most formidable pianists of her generation, but also as a noted mentor and champion of young performers. After making her breakthrough when she won the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1965, he has enjoyed a career performing at all the world’s major venues and making a number of acclaimed recordings, most notably of composers such as Ravel, Schumann and Prokofiev. Since 2001, she has run the Progetto Martha Argerich festival in Lugano, Switzerland, in which she joins fellow musicians in both chamber music recitals and, with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, larger-scale performances.
‘[Martha] is a consummate chamber music collaborator,’ says John Gilhooly, chairman of the RPS. ‘It is this spirit of collaboration that led to the Progetto Martha Argerich, now in its 15th year, through which she demonstrates her enduring generosity and personal commitment to emerging musicians and by mixing established and up-and-coming artists has created many inspirational chamber music partnerships.’