Legendary Italian-French pianist who specialised in Debussy and Satie passes away at 89.

The Italian-French pianist Aldo Ciccolini has died in Paris at the age of 89 following several recent admissions to hospital for undisclosed illnesses, according to his manager.

Born in 1925, and a pupil at the Naples Conservatory by the age of 9, Ciccolini studied piano with Paolo Denza, as well as harmony and counterpoint with Achille Longo. Performing on the piano from the age of 16 at the Teatro San Carlo, by 1946 Ciccolini was reduced to playing largely in bars in order to support his family.

Between 1971 and 1989 Ciccolini taught at the Paris Conservatory where his students included pianists of the calibre of Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Nicholas Angelich and Artur Pizarro.

The pianist was a renowned advocate for the works of French composers like Debussy, Satie and Saint-Saëns as well as for lesser-known piano composers such as Massenet and de Castillon. He was also known for having performed the works of Spanish composers Albéniz and de Falla, as well as many compositions by Liszt. The soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf said of him, “I have hardly met a more wonderful partner and a more delightful companion.”

In partnership with EMI-Pathé Marcon (now Warner Classics), Ciccolini recorded over 50 albums including the complete sonata cycles of Mozart and Beethoven, the complete solo piano work of Debussy and two separate cycles of the complete piano works of Satie. On 9 December 1999 Ciccolini celebrated a career in France spanning 50 years with a recital at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. In a testament to Ciccolini’s huge body of work for EMI, the company released a 56-volume box set of his albums in 2010.

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