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Martha Gets a Doctorate

To see Martha Argerich on the stage of our own Academy was a wonderful thing. A friend and I noted that throughout the ceremony, Mme. Argerich looked with fantastic and animated expressions at the professors who were speaking in the most fluent Polish (which to a person who does not speak or understand it is quite an experience), lauding her as an artist of the highest quality, whose tremendous accomplishments were meritorious and inspiring to us all.

Profs. Jasinski (our dearly loved "Chef") and Popowa-Zydron (Chairwoman of the Chopin Competition jury this year) were with Mme. Argerich onstage, and Prof. Jasinski spoke of her many achievements, followed by a delightful speech to her in Spanish.

Having received an (enormous) red velvet container entitling her to the Doctorate, Argerich immediately opened it (somewhat unceremoniously) to examine the contents...

Following the presentation of the degree, Mme. Argerich spoke of her work in a new step for her concertizing titled "Music for Peace," involving concerts played to the memory of world tragedies; she mentioned our Academy's proximity to the former Auschwitz-Birkenau site and told of her feeling that while this was an example of the horrors of human potential, that music was an opposite force displaying how wonderful and beautiful art is and how powerfully it can bring our sense of compassion and humanity to our surface and make this a better world.

Argerich then played, along with Nelson Gerner, Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances for Two Pianos.

The piano students at the Academy couldn't help but make this photograph for Mme. Argerich, and it was presented to her after the ceremony along with other photos of us with her at various concerts.

In the wake of the recent International F. Chopin Competition, I decided to post some of Martha's performances at the 1965 edition, where she won the Gold Medal. In her acceptance speech, Mme. Argerich described her Honorary Doctorate from the Academy as "The second most important gift that Poland has given me," in reference to the 1st Prize which was awarded to her half a century ago.

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