Pianist Kuerti stricken while performing in Coral Gables

By Dorothy Hindman

Pianist Anton Kuerti suffered a medical emergency while performing Thursday night at Coral Gables Congregational  Church.

Pianist Anton Kuerti suffered a medical emergency while performing Thursday night at Coral Gables Congregational Church.

UPDATED

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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8 Responses to “Pianist Kuerti stricken while performing in Coral Gables”

  1. Posted Oct 17, 2013 at 11:58 pm by Adam

    Still in shock. Turning over the succession of event tonight. Thank you for writing this so quickly. I dearly hope he is recuperating tonight and gets better. My heart goes out to him and his family.

  2. Posted Oct 18, 2013 at 11:41 am by Les

    My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Kuerti and his family. If wishes be facts, mine are that he recover fully and resumes giving concerts as soon as is medically advisable. I was not at the concert. Parenthetically, this incident was also published on the BBC website (“Entertainment” section) on 18 October 2013, the better to inform Mr. Kuerti’s admirers the world over.

  3. Posted Oct 18, 2013 at 10:44 pm by Arlene Hathaway

    I was at the concert and realized quickly that something was terribly wrong a few minutes into the performance – am so very sad this has happened and pray for a quick recovery to his brilliance as the greatest interpreter of Beethoven’s music and he can fulfill his “Debris” project.

  4. Posted Oct 19, 2013 at 9:39 am by D. Schreiber

    This is heartbreaking news. I have heard Mr. Kuerti play many, many time, beginning with his Beethoven recitals at the University of Toronto in the late 1960s. His recording of Scriabin’s 4th piano sonata is a great favourite of mine. And when he was touring with his programme of the Diabelli Variations about 3 years ago, I traveled well outside Toronto several times in order to hear him play that wonderful work four times. May he recover soon, fully, and continue to give pleasure to his many audiences.

  5. Posted Oct 19, 2013 at 11:06 pm by John

    All the best to Anton Kuerti and his family. I treasure his recordings and live performances that we have attended in our home town. He was scheduled to play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 4 with Thunder Bay Symphony orchestra here in Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada, on October 24.

  6. Posted Oct 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm by Isaias Zelkowicz

    I want to express my concern and best hope for a full and quick recovery.
    I met Mr. Kuerti when I was a member of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and remember and cherish many musical memories of him.
    With my best wishes,
    Isaias Zelkowicz

  7. Posted Nov 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm by Andreas Waglechner

    I wish Mr. Kuerti all the best. I frequented his concerts a decade a go when he renewed my joy in Beethoven’s music.

  8. Posted Dec 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm by Aaron Krosnick

    I’m really concerned about this and hope Anton is recovering from this episode. I have known him since the age of 14, when we were campers at the Greenwood Music Camp in Massachusetts, even sleeping in the same hayloft in the barn. Anton and another student amused themselves by doing math problems in the dark after lights out.

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Thu Oct 17, 2013
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