Michael McCooe: Pianist – Lipatti

Dinu Lipatti (19th March 1917 – 2nd December 1950) was a Romanian pianist and composer whose life was sadly cut short at the age of 33, relating to Hodgkin’s disease.

During his short life, he was able to compose many of his own works, as well as showcase his impressive ability to recite others’ compositions.

Early life of Lipatti

lipatti michael mccooe

Born in Bucharest to a musical family, Lipatti’s parents were both professional musicians. He picked up piano from his mother, while his father taught him to play the violin. Lipatti was able to play Mozart’s music from an early age and played piano and composed throughout school, attending the Bucharest Conservatoire.

In 1930, at the age of just 13, Lipatti performed the Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor and received a standing ovation. Two years later, he won awards for his own pieces, a Piano Sonatina and a Sonatina for both violin and piano.

Lipatti then entered the 1933 Vienna International Piano Competition, finishing in second place to Polish pianist Bolesław Kon. Many from the jury resigned in protest at the fact that Lipatti was not rewarded the victory.

Established pianist & composer

At the age of 18, Lipatti moved to study in Paris, giving his recital debut at the École Normale. His teacher had died just three days earlier, and Lipatti chose to open his concert with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.

Lipatti accepted a position as professor of piano at the conservatory in Geneva, Switzerland, at the start of the Second World War, fleeing with his companion Madeleine Cantacuzene. He remained there after the war had finished, marrying Madeleine in 1947.

Declining health

Lipatti was first diagnosed with his illness, Hodgkin’s disease just months before his wedding, and his health continued to decline in the years after. As a result, his public performances became considerably less frequent. Record producer Walter Legge would often play recordings of Lipatti’s music between 1947 and 1950.

His final recital came in September 1950 and he died just three months later from a burst abscess on his one lung. and was buried in Switzerland, alongside his wife who died in 1982. Despite his career being cut short by World War II and illness, Lipatti’s works (as originals and recordings) remain popular today.

You can listen to some of my favourite classics on my Michael McCooe SoundCloud profile, which is updated on a regular basis.