Born in Buenos Aires, Martha Argerich rose to international prominence when she won First Prize at the 7th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1965. One of the world’s most brilliant pianists, she is highly regarded for her interpretations of the virtuoso piano literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her broad repertoire includes works by Bach, Bartók, Beethoven, Messiaen, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Franck, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.
From the very beginning, Barenboim possessed a musicality that touched people directly without being bound to rigid concepts. He gave his debut at the age of ten in Vienna and Rome. At the age of eleven he took part in a conducting course led by Igor Markevitch in Salzburg, where he met and played for Wilhelm Furtwängler in 1954. The charismatic German conductor is, along with Sir John Barbirolli, Barenboim’s role model. As a conductor, Barenboim exudes a greatness that critics have attempted to characterize with the words “intelligence and feeling” or “spontaneity and boundlessness.”
When Otto Nicolai left Vienna permanently in 1847, the young enterprise of the Vienna Philharmonic almost collapsed, having lost in one person not only its artistic but also its administrative leader. Twelve years of stagnation followed before a new innovation brought about the long-awaited change of fortune. On January 15, 1860, the first of four subscription concerts took place in the Kärntnertortheater under the baton of then opera director Carl Eckert, and since that time, the "Philharmonic Concerts" have been staged without interruption. The only significant change in all those years was to switch from having one conductor for a complete season of subscription concerts to the present system of having various guest conductors within a season.