Pianist suffers acute heart failure during concert, but finishes performance

Georgian pianist Alexander Toradze is now recovering in hospital

Published: April 29, 2022 at 1:08 pm

A pianist in the USA suffered acute heart failure during his concert with an orchestra on Saturday night - but went on to finish the performance.

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The Georgian pianist Alexander Toradze was set to perform Stravinsky's Piano Concerto for Winds and Orchestra and Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No.2 on Saturday and Sunday with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra USA. However, the 69-year-old pianist started feeling unwell on Thursday. By Saturday, his condition had deteriorated: he was experiencing extreme fatigue and struggled to walk unaided. 'I felt utterly weak to go on stage,' he recalls. Nevertheless, as he was testing negative for Covid, he decided to go ahead with that evening's concert.

Following the performance, which was highly praised in the press, he was driven to hospital by Dr. Michael Liu - a VSO Board member and doctor at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver - and admitted to ER, where it was discovered that he had suffered acute heart failure while performing.

Born in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, Toradze entered Tbilisi's central music school at six and first played with orchestra at nine. He continued his studies at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow and in 1977, finished second in the Fifth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.In 1983, while on tour with the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra of Moscow, he requested asylum at the American Embassy in Madrid and has since made his home in the United States. He has appeared with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Kirov Orchestra, La Scala Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and almost every orchestra in the United States.

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He continues to stay at hospital, having cancelled his Sunday night performance. In a recorded video message to the players of the VSO he says: 'Things are looking fine and I should be up and running maybe in a couple of days.'

Authors

Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.

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