It with deep sadness that we bring the news of the death of the pianist Lars Vogt, after a long illness.
As many of you will know Lars was one of the most prominent and distinguished alumni of The Leeds, where he won 2nd Prize in 1990. That occasion launched him onto an international career that saw him perform the world over at the greatest venues and with all the leading orchestras, and also started a special relationship with the conductor Simon Rattle, with whom he went on to perform and record on many occasions, not least in Berlin.
Lars’s relationship with The Leeds was rekindled in 2018 when he came to perform at our inaugural Leeds Piano Festival in Leeds and London’s Wigmore Hall. I will never forget his incandescent performance of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata, a performance I have never heard equalled for its ferocious intensity, and absolute concentration. And just recently, tuning in to BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast programme, I caught a performance of Janáček’s In the Mists of such subtle, hushed and concentrated poetry and intensity that completely stopped me in my tracks. Not knowing who was playing, I was nonetheless not at all surprised to hear that it was Lars’s own recent recording. It was typical of the man that he could produce a performance of such beauty and poetic imagination without ever pushing his own personality. A rare artist indeed.
Later in 2018 he joined the Jury of Leeds International Piano Competition, the first with Paul Lewis and I as co-Artistic Directors. His presence on the Jury had a kind of beatific effect over everyone, and he became the kindest and most generous of colleagues, often with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He corresponded often with members of that Jury, not least with Imogen Cooper, and to this day we remain a tight-knit group who keep in touch regularly.
We, and the musical world at large, will all miss him greatly. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Anna and his family.
RIP dear Lars.
Adam Gatehouse – Artistic Director
& All The Leeds Team