American pianist Michael Ponti, 84, dies

18 October 2022
By Ellie Palmer
The musician was known for his interpretation of works by Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky. He released more than 80 records during his lifetime

Main image: ©Charly Tandy/dpa

Pianist Michael Ponti has passed away at the age of 84.

Ponti's death was confirmed to the German Press Agency by his son, Maximilian Ponti, on Monday 17 October. Ponti died in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. His cause of death is unknown at this time.

Born in Freiburg, he studied piano in Washington DC with Gilmour McDonald from 1954 to 1955, McDonald having been a pupil of the virtuoso Leopold Godowsky, before studying with Erich Flinsch (who had been a pupil of and an assistant to Emil von Sauer) in Frankfurt from 1955 to 1961.

His huge output of 80 records includes complete piano recordings of both Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. He was also known for recording – and bringing to light – a number of concertos that had never been recorded before. These included works by Mily Balakirev, Clara Schumann, Ignaz Moscheles, Charles-Valentin Alkan, Sigismond Thalberg, Moritz Moszkowski and Hans Bronsart von Schellendorff.

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Ponti was mainly out of the spotlight in the last couple of decades of his life. His performing career ended in the late 1990s after he had a stroke that left him without the use of his right hand and arm. He did, however, give several concerts of left-handed music. 

Enjoy Michael Ponti's stunning interpretation of Felix Mendelssohn's Capriccio brillant Op 22 below.