Ruth Laredo

'America's First Lady of the piano'

Ruth Laredo was the kind of pianist who drew excited and colourful language from the critics. The New York Daily News baptised her "America's First Lady of the piano". The Washington Post found her pianism "marked with a special blend of intensity and rare kind of introspective poetry". The New York Times hailed her as a "technical wizard" who could "hold her own with any pianist alive".

Ruth Meckler, pianist: born Detroit 20 November 1937; married 1960 Jaime Laredo (one daughter; marriage dissolved 1974); died New York 25 May 2005.

Ruth Laredo was the kind of pianist who drew excited and colourful language from the critics. The New York Daily News baptised her "America's First Lady of the piano". The Washington Post found her pianism "marked with a special blend of intensity and rare kind of introspective poetry". The New York Times hailed her as a "technical wizard" who could "hold her own with any pianist alive".

Although her repertoire was broad, beginning with Beethoven and ranging into living composers, Laredo specialised in the kind of big-boned Romantic music that came alive with her forceful and lively keyboard manner. Inspired by the powerful virtuosity of Vladimir Horowitz's approach to Scriabin, whose music was then relatively little played, she attracted international attention in the 1970s with the first complete set of the 10 Scriabin piano sonatas for the Connoisseur label (one reviewer wrote that her "sensuous, beautifully controlled playing caught its mad and slightly evil quality").

And she received credit for what was later considered the first recording of the complete piano music of Rachmaninov, for CBS (in fact, Michael Ponti beat her to the draw), earning herself the first of three Grammy nominations. She tackled the complete Scriabin preludes, too.

Russian music continued to be a favourite stamping-ground: one of her most recent recordings was a two-piano disc for Gasparo, with James Tocco, of the two-piano version of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Rachmaninov's Second Suite. Her last concert, on 6 May - part of the "Concerts with Commentary" series she had presented at the Museum of Metropolitan Art in New York for the past 17 years - was one of three entitled "The Russian Spirit", featuring the music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Scriabin and Shostakovich.

She was born Ruth Meckler, a native of Detroit, and studied with Rudolf Serkin at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He looked askance on her enthusiasm for Rachmaninov and made sure her pianism was grounded in classical mainstream. In 1960, the year of her graduation, she married the Bolivian violinist Jaime Laredo, forming a duo soon recognised as one of the finest in the profession; they were divorced in 1974.

Ruth Laredo's concerto début came in 1962, in Carnegie Hall, with the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by the veteran Leopold Stokowski - who always had an eye for pretty female soloists. But it was to be 12 years before she appeared with the New York Philharmonic, and 1981 before her first solo recital in Carnegie Hall. By that time her recordings had already made her one of America's best-known pianists.

Other concerto appearances took her to such orchestras as the Philadelphia, the Boston and Detroit Symphonies, and the Orchestra of St Luke's. She played at the White House and Library of Congress. Also an enthusiastic chamber musician, she performed regularly with the Tokyo String Quartet, her other partner quartets including the Emerson, Guarnieri, Muir, St Lawrence and Vermeer; her most recent recording, of the Brahms Piano Quartets (for Arabesque), featured the Shanghai String Quartet.

She may have reached her widest audience in the cinema, though. In a scene in Woody Allen's film Small Time Crooks (2000), Hugh Grant tries to impress Tracey Ullman by taking her to a piano recital - Ruth Laredo playing Rachmaninov.

Martin Anderson

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices