Pianist Kuerti stricken while performing in Coral Gables
A highly anticipated Friends of Chamber Music concert by acclaimed Beethoven interpreter Anton Kuerti was abruptly cut short when the pianist was stricken by a medical emergency a few minutes into the event Thursday evening at Coral Gables Congregational Church. Kuerti, 75, was taken by ambulance to South Miami Hospital.
As of Friday morning, Kuerti is still in the intensive care unit, said a spokesman for Friends of Chamber Music. The pianist’s family is flying in to Miami from Canada today.
Before beginning his program, the tall, elegant Kuerti spoke intelligently and humorously about the all-Beethoven concert, which he was touring in advance of a recording program entitled “Beethoven Debris.” The concert and the recording intentionally focused on some of Beethoven’s lesser compositions, a mix of “real treasures and silly pieces” according to Kuerti, who is known for his recordings of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas and concertos.
Kuerti began the first work, the tender Rondo in G major, Op. 51, No. 29, with exceptionally clear tone, restraint, and reverence. The pianist’s performance suddenly deteriorated into multiple repetitions of the closing theme, which some interpreted initially as a private musical joke.
Kuerti’s growing disorientation and numerous stops and starts during the second of the Eleven Bagatelles, Op. 119, signaled clearly to the large audience that something was terribly wrong.
Santiago Rodriguez, professor of keyboard performance at the Frost School of Music, gently approached Kuerti mid-piece, and eventually succeeded in coaxing him off the stage to a standing ovation. FOCM chairman William Hipp announced an intermission.
It soon became evident that the intermission would turn into a cancellation. Although Kuerti left the stage under his own power, he required immediate medical attention, and appeared disoriented and unable to answer simple questions.
Another Friends of Chamber Music official said that the neurologist on duty at the hospital stated that “it didn’t look like a stroke,” although no specifics of Kuerti’s condition and the nature of the emergency have yet been released.
In addition to FOCM’s loyal audience, many of Miami’s best known pianists and their students were in attendance, including Frost’s Rodriguez, Paul Posnak, and FIU’s Jose Lopez, all of whom expressed great sadness and dismay over the evening’s tragic turn of events.
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Thu Oct 17, 2013
at 11:17 pm