Alberto Portugheis is an Argentine pianist and teacher. He was born in La Plata, but now lives in London. He has three children, Susana, Clara, David. His son, David Portugheis, is a composer and photographer.
Both Portugheis's parents came from Jewish families.His mother, Catalina, was born in Argentina of Romanian and Russian descent, from her mother and father, respectively. Her family was originally German, but emigrated from Eastern Europe during World War I. Several of Alberto Portugheis' family members perished in the two World Wars.
His father, Simon Portugheis, was a Romanian of Portuguese origin, hence the family name. His side of the family, all living siblings included, had arrived in Argentina from Romania just before World War II. Historically, ancestors on his father's side of the family had lived in Holland and Portugal.Through marriages, Alberto Portugheis has Polish, Lithuanian, Israeli, Brazilian and American relatives. Thus, he grew up in a family that was a mix of various nationalities and origins.
Since his early childhood, Portugheis showed a talent for, and a great interest in music. By the age of three, he was picking out instrumental, vocal and orchestral music on the piano and by six and a half, he had learned to read music. He told Tim Stein in a 1995 interview for Classical Piano of the time his father sold some chairs to a piano teacher and how he asked her if he could try out her piano, saying, 'She became my first teacher, until I was 13, when she thought that she had taught me everything she knew.'
Portugheis then studied for five years with Vincenzo Scaramuzza (the teacher of Martha Argerich and Bruno Leonardo Gelber), before going on to the Geneva Conservatoire. Tim Stein records that Portugheis ended up in Geneva by a "rather circuitous route", explaining that he was first selected by the Argentine University as a representative in Germany. Portugheis was to give concerts and introduce people to Argentinian music. Portugheis told Stein that he didn't want to go back home until having visited the grave of his idol, Dinu Lipatti, in Geneva, and that this journey abroad provided him with that opportunity. While on this visit, Portugheis met Lipatti's widow, Madeleine. He recalled to Stein that she 'was able to pass on a lot of Dinu's ideas, not only musical ideas but ways of practising and his whole approach to music; transmitting the feeling of a composer and, perhaps unique in his time, a reverence for the musical text.'
Portugheis' time at the Conservatoire gave him an opportunity to meet the septuagenarian pianist Youra Guller, a student of Isidor Philipp in Paris who also performed with Pablo Casals and Joseph Szigeti. Portugheis told Stein that although Guller was not a born teacher, she had 'sufficient time and patience' to show him 'the secret of her art'. He described this as 'how to respect the rhythm of a text and how to use the left hand as a strict conductor above all else'. Portugheis said she stressed to him that 'every single note had something to say.'
Enthusiasm for music has led Portugheis to a dedicated study of the piano and his life as an international concert pianist, while the horrors experienced by his family led to his work for peace. He tells in his book, Dear Ahed: the Game of War and a Path to Peace that his family "escaped from Eastern Europe between 1935 and 1940" and that not one day of his childhood passed without hearing of the horrors they experienced. Now, in addition to his career on the concert platform, he works for peace.
- Chaconne from Violin Partita No 4 in D minor, arranged for piano
- Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
- Nocturne in F sharp minor
- Dinu (Constantin) Lipatti (1917-1950)
- Variations and Fugue on a Theme by G F Handel
- Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)