Maurizio Pollini occupies a special place among the ranks of today's great pianists, garnering six decades of critical and public acclaim for the power and beauty of his artistry. Pollini's nobility of expression, total technical command of the keyboard, and ability to conjure an infinite variety of tonal shades and inflections combine to create interpretations that reveal profound insight into works from past and present.
He was born in Milan in 1942, and art and music formed a natural part of his childhood. Maurizio was five when he started playing piano – having received his first lessons from Carlo Lonati, he gave his first public performance at the age of nine and returned to the concert platform several times over the next few years. Spurred on by his second teacher, Carlo Vidusso, Pollini gave a remarkable recital of Chopin's Études in Milan in 1956. The practical experience of learning these fiendishly difficult pieces set the foundations for the teenage pianist's immaculate technique. Four years later, at the age of 18, he attracted worldwide attention as the winner of the Sixth International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. While victory effectively launched his international career, he felt unready for its demands and chose to withdraw from public performance for almost two years. He studied with the legendary Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and immersed himself in the music of Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms.
He realised his ambition after returning to the concert scene later in the 1960s, when he astonished audiences and critics with the maturity and quality of his pianism. He forged a close lifelong partnership with his friend Claudio Abbado and developed further significant artistic relationships with, among others, Pierre Boulez and Luigi Nono. In the late 1960s and '70s, inspired by left-wing politics and a personal belief in the arts as an engine for social change, Pollini took part in concerts for students and workers presented at La Scala, Milan, and throughout Italy.
Pollini caused a sensation in 1972 with the release of his first studio album for Deutsche Grammophon. His recording of Stravinsky's Trois mouvements de Petrouchka and Prokofiev's Seventh Piano Sonata set new standards for the performance of 20th-century music; it also signaled his intention to explore wide repertoire horizons. He has since remained an exclusive DG artist and created a discography of remarkable depth and breadth, embracing everything from the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven and much of Chopin's output to works by Boulez, Nono, Schoenberg, and Webern.