Lars Vogt, brilliant pianist and conductor, died Monday, September 5, three days before his 52nd birthday, swept away by cancer, announced his agent. “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of German pianist and conductor Lars Vogt”, the Askonas Holt agency said on Twitter. “Lars passed away peacefully this afternoon surrounded by his family after battling cancer.” The musician had been fighting liver cancer since March 2021, said on his France Musique site, which pays tribute to the artist during the day and evening of Tuesday.
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of German pianist and conductor Lars Vogt.
— Askonas Holt (@AskonasHolt) September 5, 2022
Since July 2020, Lars Vogt has been the musical director of the Paris Chamber Orchestra, a position in which he was confirmed in 2021. Winner of several prestigious awards, including the Brahms Prize (in 2004), he was recruited by mayor of Paris when he was musical director of the Royal Northern Sinfonia in Gateshead, Great Britain.
Born on September 8, 1970 in Düren, in western Germany, trained at the University of Music and Theater in Hanover, Lars Vogt won second prize in the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1990 at the age of 18. . This performance launched his career, opening the doors to the most prestigious stages and orchestras, from New York to Paris via London, Tokyo and Chicago. In the 2003-2004 season, he was the first pianist in residence of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. During his concert career, Vogt will have worked with more than 200 conductors, including Claudio Abbado and Simon Rattle, recalls France Musique which reports this quote which links the two favorite activities of the German musician: “When I play the piano, I feel like I am conducting an orchestra, in a way. I play with my fingers, but in my head there is a conductor. I aspire to obtain the sound of a violin, a flute, an oboe, a bassoon, colors that are not only the colors of a piano.”
As a conductor, Lars Vogt directs several formations, in his country of origin (Mahler Chamber orchestra…) but also in Poland with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, or in the antipodes (symphony orchestras of Sydney, New Zealand, Singapore). Driven by his passion for chamber music, he also founded the Spannungen (“tensions”) festival dedicated to this musical genre, in 1998. In 2015, he took up his first official duties as musical director of an orchestra, that of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, with whom he will experience beautiful hours of music and sharing.
In an interview posted in 2021 on the Youtube account of the legendary Herbert von Karajan, Lars Vogt confided, quoted by France Musique: “I love observing other chefs. First there is technique, but that remains a mystery. What remains mysterious is that technique alone does not solve anything. Deciding when the orchestra needs help, inspiration. It’s like a moving train, when it is launched you have to know how to withdraw, which is what great conductors know how to do. There, they focus on the melodic line, the breathing.”
In terms of repertoire, Lars Vogt’s field of exploration travels from Bach to contemporary music, via Beethoven, romantic composers or those of the 20th century such as Shostakovich (video below).
The artist, open-minded and sincere, had wanted to confide in his illness a year ago, on September 3, 2021, in the Matinale de France Musique (he speaks from 1h24mn, video extract below). below). At the time, he said his treatment was effective. “I had the diagnosis in March . It really changed my life, naturally. I can’t work like I usually do, I need to take breaks and sleep a little more.” When asked why he decided to reveal his condition, he replied simply: “It has become an essential part of my life, like music. I express all the things that speak of life. There is perhaps another perspective on things, we enjoy each moment more, to do music. What a privilege! And to see the sunrise every day is truly a miracle. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true, because I know time is limited (. ..) And music can be consoling, Mozart, Brahms… I play Bach a lot for myself. But also, working with the Orchester de chambre de Paris. They have really become my friends. music with friends, being in the process of working together on a piece of music that you love… You forget about everything and it’s really great.”
At the Paris Chamber Orchestra, he took up his duties as musical director on July 1, 2020. In December 2021, his mandate was extended until June 2025. Monday evening on Twitter, the formation announced its “tremendous sadness” to lose its musical director “after several months of a long and courageous fight against the disease”, remembering“a man of immeasurable humanity” who “had been able to forge a strong personal bond with each musician and each member of the team. Driven by extreme benevolence, he shared his boundless enthusiasm with them.”
LARS VOGT, 1970 – 2022 | Pianist and musical director of the Paris Chamber Orchestra
After several months of a long and courageous fight against illness, we have the immense sadness to announce this evening the death of Lars Vogt, our musical director. pic.twitter.com/4K7lUeEEYq
— Chamber orchestra (@orchambreparis) September 5, 2022
In the world of music, artists and professionals have been paying tribute to Lars Vogt since Monday evening, saluting both the human being and the musician.
The team of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées thinks “upset” by the death of the musician, “swept away by a cancer which we thought he had won a few days ago”, concluding his message with an extract from his last concert in the famous Parisian hall.
His final applause at TCE, alongside Antje Weithaas pic.twitter.com/VlWPLiP6eF
– Champs-Elysées Theater (@TCEOPERA) September 5, 2022
Cellist Gautier Gapuçon shared on Twitter his “tremendous sadness”remembering his “courage” of “lion” in the face of illness and its “beautiful smile”.
Immense sadness to learn of the death of Lars Vogt, 51 years old.
He fought the disease like a lion, with so much courage
and always that beautiful smile
— Gautier CAPUÇON (@GautierCapucon) September 5, 2022
Pianist François-Frédéric Guy posted an emotional message on Twitter: “Goodbye my friend. Your smile, your humor like in this photo… your simplicity, your sincerity and… your divine music on the piano as well as on the music stand… You leave a huge void. Our hearts are broken. Goodbye Lars.”
Goodbye My friend . Your smile, your humor like in this photo.. your simplicity, your sincerity and.. your divine music on the piano as on the desk.. . You leave a huge void. Our heart is broken. Farewell Lar. pic.twitter.com/rY1u4GOaOd
— Francois Guy (@ffrguy) September 5, 2022
Austrian cellist Julia Hagen tweeted: “Rarely has a musician moved me as much as Lars Vogt. His playing was like him: honest, authentic, incredibly warm, open, not boastful, with a depth and warmth that I have rarely experienced. Always seeing the good in the others, mad.”
Selten hat mich ein Musiker so bewegt wie Lars Vogt es getan hat.
Sein Spielen war wie er selbst auch: ehrlich, echt, wahnsinnig herzlich, offen, nicht prahlerisch, mit einer Tiefe und Wärme, wie ich es nur selten erlebt habe.
Immer das Gute in anderen sehend, wahnsinnig pic.twitter.com/gionj3op1a
—Julia Hagen (@cellojuliahagen) September 5, 2022
Chrysoline Dupont, from the Opéra Comique, posted an excerpt from a rehearsal on Twitter in a moving tribute: “Your sounds and your harmony accompany us.”
Farewell my friend – my dear Lars – Your sounds and your harmony accompany us. Here BACH Kurtag with David – video stolen during the rehearsals of this great concert – you were already fighting against your cancer with so much strength and lucidity #LarsVogt #Orchestredechambredeparis pic.twitter.com/qi6O3e1UVZ
— Chrysoline Dupont (@chrysoline) September 5, 2022