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Tragic death of an international pianist

The award-winning Rumanian pianist Mihaela Ursuleasa has died suddenly at the age of 33. Her agent, Andreea Butucariu, has informed us that Mihaela was found dead today in her Vienna apartment. A full statement will be issued in the morning. The family requests that its privacy is respected.

Mihaela was supposed to play yesterday in Bucharest with the National Youth Orchestra and on Saturday in Berlin.

The daughter of a gypsy fiddler, she was drawn to classical music as a child and studied in Vienna. Her latest recording (see below) was released three years ago on Berlin Classics. Here is a brief interview she gave (in German) only last month.

A Rumanian news site reports that she died of a cerebral haemorrhage. She is survived by a seven year-old daughter.

UPDATE: Official statement here.

Here is her agency biography:

“It´s the kind of Beethoven I have not heard since the heydays of Claudio Arrau and super-musician Clara Haskil herself.” (Heuwell Tircuit, San Francisco Chronicle, March 2006)

The unique blend of vivacious play and lyrical talent make Mihaela Ursuleasa one of the most remarkable pianists of her generation.
Born in Brasov, Romania in 1978, she began her career at a very early age. In 1990, she withdrew from the stage and concentrated on her scholastic, musical and piano education, now in her adopted country in Vienna, Austria.

Mihaela Ursuleasa reaped the fruits of this decision when she won the highly acclaimed Clara Haskil Competition in 1995. She was rewarded for her rare combination of vivacity and technical mastery. She was likened to Clara Haskil herself, her fellow countrywoman of the pre-war period. Today she enjoys an international career, without basking in her success but with bubbling energy and a sincere passion for music.
Event organisers from around the world were immediately attentive, and recitals in the most significant music metropolises followed, such as in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Philharmonie Cologne, Konzerthaus Vienna, Tonhalle Zürich and in the renowned Carnegie Hall in New York.
Daniele Gatti, Paavo and Neeme Järvi, Marek Janowski, Andris Nelsons and Mark Albrecht count among the conductors who value Mihaela for her emotional depth in the music world and regularly re-invite her. Orchestras such as the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, Bern Symphony-Orchestra, Mozarteum Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, CBSO, Weimar Staatskapelle, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Vienna Symphony Orchestra welcome her as a guest soloist. Moreover, she has performed at a great many international festivals including the Lucerne Festival, Salzburg Festival, StyriateGraz, the Beethoven festivals in Warsaw and Bonn, and the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York.
As an ardent chamber musician, Mihaela Ursuleasa performs with artists such as the cellist Sol Gabetta (CD recording for Sony/BMG) and the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja (CD recording for Naive), and is also a highly esteemed lied accompanist.
In 2010, her debut solo album, “Piano & Forte” (-edel- CLASSICS), receives the ECHO Klassik award in the “Solo Recording of the Year” category (19th century, piano). Her second solo album “Romanian Rhapsody” was released march 2011.

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  1. How terribly tragic and sad to lose someone so gifted, having brought so much beauty to the world through her extraordinary musical talents.

  2. May God rest her soul in peace… :( She was a romanian girl which made us proud of our country…

  3. Antonia Azoitei says:

    Is this really true? My husband and I are in shock…

  4. She was a romanian pianist, not “rumanian”. RIP!

    • Both spellings are legitimate. :)

      Requiem in pacem Mihaela.

      • Actually, the official spelling is Romanian. Rumanian was a spelling imposed by the Soviets and later rejected by Romania. But, no matter, really. That’s not the point, …

        RIP Mihaela. Horrible.

  5. Sad, very sad….RIP

  6. Rosalind Porter says:

    I heard her play several times in Vienna – a wonderful musician. From this article it appears she died of a haemorrhage in a Viennese hotel room. What a tragedy for all who knew her…

  7. Oh My God !

    I simply can’t believe this news :( She was my school colleague 24 years ago and we were good friends back then, and pen-pals later ). Finding out about this out of the blue on the internet… it feels like a part of my heart has been ripped off… never to return.

    I can’t stop crying…

    God rest her soul, let the angels hear her beautiful music for eternity,

    Alin from Brasov, Romania

  8. Benita Meshulam says:

    If I’m not mistaken, there was another great Romanian pianist, Dinu Lipatti, who died at 33. Incredibly tragic…

    • So tragic. I had the privilege to conduct a concert in Germany few years ago where she played the most touching
      Chopin’s Concerto in E rendition I was ever part of.
      Wonderful colleague, wonderful artist. Huge loss. RIP.

  9. Romeo Salajan says:

    The good die young!!!!!! She was a genius of piano!!!!!!!

  10. I went to listen at the Romanian Athenaeum on Wednesday but she canceled.
    I did not know such a serious condition….

    Requiescat in Pace.

  11. i am shocked! could cry……..she studied with heinz medjimorec in vienna. she had been one of the most gifted pianist in vienna since friedrich gulda. she performed beethoven 5th piano concert perfectly. tragedy

  12. harold braun says:

    Terrible,really terrible! Such a fantastic pianist,beautiful woman and beautiful soul!

  13. This is horrifying. I remember a concert she performed with Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra in 2003 – she followed a Mozart concerto with an encore of Chopin’s C-sharp minor nocturne that was so touching that I distinctly remember seeing a few teary-eyed audience members and players.

  14. I’m shocked!!!!!!!!
    She was the best pianist in the world!!!!!!
    Sooooooooooo tragic!!!!!!
    Sad sad sad sad sad sad
    l can’t believe this news………….

  15. This is one of these days when you cannot stop and wonder why does the Divine take from us the people who are able to share such joy and beauty trough classical music!

    May you rest in peace, Mihaela! Condolences to your family…

  16. In simplu: nu pot sa cred…..

    Condolences from a Finnish fan to the whole family….


  17. Jeremy Pound says:

    This is desperately sad news. I saw Mihaela in a scintillating recital of Enescu with Patricia Kopatchinskaya in West Cork back in 2005. One of my all-time most memorable concerts, from two exceptional players.

  18. She was bright .

    She was EXCEPTIONAL – so passionate , like a flame !

    Condolences from a fan from Bucharest, Romania.

    • Lily Adam says:

      A nice pianist, a nice soul! I´l never forget her!

      P.S.Condoleante pentru familia indurerata.
      Cu multa stima, Lily Adam
      muziciana, Viena

  19. Manuela , she was a romanian girl, a very talented pianist which made us proud of our country… R.I.P. :(

  20. Ecaterina Stan says:

    Rest in peace, Mihaela! Condolences to Puica and Stefany!

  21. Here’s Mihaela’s in-studio performance and interview at Classical Minnesota Public Radio:

  22. Ozana Barabancea says:

    Trist! f trist! personalitatea ei ii depasea varsta! De la 6 ani, cand concerta la televizor, o percepeam ca fiind foarte matura, foarte muzicala, energica, intuitiva, pasionata, daruita, si acum o regasesc o femeie frumoasa, plina de viata, cu un zambet nevinovat, dar la fel de stapana pe nuantele partiturii.!Mare pierdere in lumea muzicala! Din pacate suntem ocupati cu mascaricii politicii actuale si arta o marginalizam.Ne puteam mandri, cu asemenea romanca.RIP!

  23. Simply tragic. M y sincere condolences to Mihaela’s family, especially her daughter. It is impossible to understand events such as the loss of Mihaela so young. I believe that we may one day ………. who knows? Rest in Peace Michaela.
    Muk Muk Australia

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