Maurizio Pollini rose to fame as a Chopin expert. To this day his recording of the Chopin Etudes is considered a hallmark interpretation. Pollini’s involvement with the Polish-French composer also marked the beginning of his career. In 1960 the eighteen-year-old pianist won the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Thoroughly prepared after two more intensive years of study, he then launched an international career.
In his art, Pollini continually aims for the highest. This striving toward an ideal is something he probably learned from his teacher and mentor Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, “a man who was incredibly conscientious in his music-making, even to the point of paradox,” as Pollini characterized the great pianist. “His quest for perfection verged on the absolute.”
Pollini, too, is uncompromising with his audience. He designs his programs solely according to artistic criteria. He has thus been known to play a Stockhausen sonata as his first encore, before delighting his willing audience with Chopin in a half-empty hall. Pollini is a meticulous artist - his recording project encompassing the complete Beethoven Sonatas extended over a period of forty years. As great piano critic Joachim Kaiser wrote, his performances are “the Sundays of our musical life.”
© Rainer Elstner, ORF - Radio Österreich 1


  • 1942 born into a family of artists in Milan

  • 1977 premiere of Nono’s ...sofferte onde serene... and Manzoni’s Masse: omaggio a Edgar Varèse, both of which were composed for Pollini

  • 1978 recitals with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Schubert’s Winterreise)

  • 1987 plays the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos in New York with the Vienna Philharmonic under Claudio Abbado, and is awarded the orchestra’s ring of honor

  • 1996 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize

  • 2002 Echo Klassik Award for his life’s work

  • 2010 Praemium Imperiale, the “Nobel Prize of the arts"

  • Pollini has also worked as a conductor of operas and orchestral works, in addition to leading the orchestra from the piano

  • Concentrating on a single performance is important to him: he only gives a maximum of 40 concerts per year.

  • Pollini’s only son Daniele Pollini has followed in his father’s footsteps as a pianist, and is also active as a conductor and composer.

Did you know?

  • Pollini’s father Gino was an architect and creator of the modern “Olivetti” office palace.

  • With his close friends Luigi Nono and Claudio Abbado in the 1970s, Pollini organized concert series for workers in the industrial area Reggio nell' Emilia. Demanding contemporary works were also presented.

  • With great inner vitality and analytical acuity, Pollini reveals Chopin’s roots in music history. In interviews he defends the composer’s musical depth.

  • Pollini is particularly committed to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, with a special focus on the demanding works of Boulez, Nono, Stockhausen, and Sciarrino. Major piano works have been dedicated to him.

  • Pollini is a passionate smoker of unfiltered cigarettes.

  • Pollini travels with his own instrument, a Steinway prepared by Angelo Fabbrini. Fabbrini was also Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli’s piano tuner of choice.