Mitsuko Uchida… Like a Blaze… of Lightning…

Mitsuko Uchida


Onto the darkened stage…

Like a blaze of


Wearing a soft white blouse with black trousers…

She sat at the black grand piano

“Dans le théâtre”…

One could heara pin drop.

The concert… commenced.

Mitsuko Uchida

Born in the seaside town of Atami… near the capital… Tokyoshe moved to Europe with her family aged twelve, when her father was appointed Japan’s Ambassador to Austria.

She studied music at the Vienna Academy of Music and performed her first recital aged fourteen… at the famous “Musikverein“…home to the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra, considered one of the finest concert halls in the world.

Uchida… remained in Vienna to continue her studies… after her parents returned to Japan a few years later….

“I feel very much a European”… she confided.

She studied with such illustrious teachers as Richard Hauser, and later Wilhelm Kempff… one of the great pianists of the 20th century… Stefan Askenase, and Maria Curcio… the great and influential teacher.

Uchida won first prize in the Beethoven Competition in Vienna aged twenty… second prize in the International Chopin Piano Competition a year later.  She also won second prize in the Leeds Piano Competition, five years on…

Her international breakthrough materialised in London

When in 1982 she played the complete Mozart piano sonatas at Wigmore Hall – a resounding successwhich led to a move to London… and a widely acclaimed international career

Becoming a British citizen in 2001… as well as being appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2009.

She commented… in her upper crust English accent

“In England, in spite of the class system, society is more open…  I feel deeply attached to the tolerance of British culture.  London is the true cosmopolitan city… you can be yourself.”

Pablo Casals and the pianist Edwin Fischer, as well as a string of German-Jewish musicians, had the greatest influence on the pianist in England

Uchida… achieved widespread acclaim throughout thirty years of her illustrious career

Above allshe is a brilliant interpreter of Mozart and Schubert… followed by Beethoven, Debussy, Schumann, Chopin.  Her award-winning recordings of the complete Mozart piano sonatas and concertos… where she often conducts from the piano… have cult status among music lovers

Uchidadazzledplaying… “Les trois dernières sonates pour piano“… at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

Franz Schuberts

Sonate n° 19 en ut mineur D.958

Sonate n°  20 en la majeur D.959″…

However, the most awe inspiring was the last tranche of the recital

Schubert’s “Sonate n° 21 en ut mineur D.960“…

Mitsukos magical handshoveredcaressed… rattled… and on occasion pounded the keyboard

A forceful and energetic virtuosowe admired her perfect timingdramatic, imperious, and powerful gesturesa force of life.

With a daring mane of peppery black hair


A tiny… figure is…

Larger than life

Her performance… was brilliant.

She brought Schubert to life

The black and white keys were… dancing joyous… happy… then…

Passionate… angry… furious

A drama of emotion… was at play.

Her performance… was coming to an end

She finished… the last notes with a flourisha tilt of the heada flip of the hair


It’s… over.

The audience… went wild.

The clapping was… thunderous.

The shouting… the clamouring for more


Mitsuko Uchida

Stood up…

Bent downdeeply

Like only… the impeccably courteous and disciplined people of Japan can do…

An impressive gesturebeautiful to behold.

Moving… emotive


After… a few more deep bows


One of the worlds most eminent concert pianistsever

Walked offthe stage

Into… the rainy




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