Menahem Pressler, a German-born Israeli-American pianist who was a co-founder of the Beaux Arts Trio in 1955, died over the weekend in London at age 99.
A six-time Grammy nominee, the acclaimed musician was the driving force behind the trio, which disbanded in 2008 after more than 50 years or recordings and concerts that placed them at the pinnacle of chamber music.
The Beaux Arts Trio would go on to play more than 4,000 concerts throughout the world while recording virtually all the standard trio repertoire.
After the Beaux Arts Trio disbanded, Pressler embarked on an ambitious solo career and continued to perform and travel all over the world. Since 1955, he also taught at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington.
“When I play, I don’t feel older than 50. When I teach, I don’t feel older than 40. When I walk up the stairs, it’s another story,” he told the Times of Israel in 2016.
The life of Menahem Pressler
Pressler was born in Magdeburg, Germany, on December 16, 1923, to parents who fled Germany for Palestine after the Kristallnacht attacks in November 1938.
Then 14, Pressler focused on his already highly developed interest in music. Taught by renowned musician Leo Kestenberg, Pressler left for the US in 1946, winning the Debussy international piano competition in San Francisco, which led to a sponsored debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the leadership of conductor Eugene Ormandy. He debuted in Carnegie Hall the next year, at age 24.
According to The Washington Post, Pressler was married to Sara Scherchen, one of his Israeli students, from 1949 until her death in 2014. Survivors include his companion and longtime manager, Annabelle Whitestone, and two children from his marriage, Ami Pressler and Edna Pressler.