Lupu was born in Galaţi, the son of Meyer Lupu and Ana Gabor. He began piano as a 6-year old (with Lia Busuioceanu), making his public debut at age 12, in a concert featuring his own compositions. After completing high school in Galaţi, and graduating from the Popular School for the Arts in Braşov, Lupu continued his studies at the Bucharest Conservatory with Florica Musicescu (who also taught Dinu Lipatti), and Cella Delavrancea. In 1961, he was awarded a scholarship to the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky State Conservatory, where he studied with Galina Eghyazarova, Heinrich Neuhaus (who also taught Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels), and Stanislav Neuhaus.
He currently resides in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Lupu's concert appearances and recordings for Decca, though not frequent, consisting of a limited repertoire, have been consistently acclaimed. Although trained in the Russian pianistic tradition, he is particularly noted for lyrical, deeply felt interpretations of the great 19th century German and Austrian composers, especially Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He is also noted for performances of works by Czech composer Leos Janácek, and Hungarian composer Béla Bartók.
Lupu made his American debut in 1972 with the Cleveland Orchestra, with Daniel Barenboim conducting in New York City, and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Carlo Maria Giulini conducting. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 1974, when he performed Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto, with Seiji Ozawa conducting. In 1984, he was featured in the "Peerless Pianists" series of the Lincoln Center Great Performers program in New York.
Although Lupu has performed with all of the major orchestras of the world and at major music festivals, he is a somewhat reclusive figure. He has regularly refused to grant interviews to journalists for over 30 years. In one rare published interview, originally from 1991, Lupu expressed his philosophy of music-making as follows:
""Everyone tells a story differently, and that story should be told compellingly and spontaneously. If it is not compelling and convincing, it is without value."
Radu Lupu, Pianist (1945-2002)
The great Romanian pianist Radu Lapu has died at the age of 76. Born in the Moldavian port city Galati to Jewish parents, Lupu won three of the world's most prestigious piano competitions: the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (1966), the George Enescu International Piano Competition in his native Romania (1967), and the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition (1969). These victories launched Lupu's international career, and he appeared with all of the major orchestras and at all of the major festivals and music capitals of the world. He was widely recognized as one of the greatest pianists of his time.
Graduating from the Popular School for the Arts in Brașov, Lupu continued his piano studies at the Bucharest Conservatory (1959–1961) with Florica Musicescu (who also taught Dinu Lipatti). Aged 16, in 1961, he was awarded a scholarship to the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied for seven years.
Lupu won a Grammy Award in 1996 for an album of Schubert piano sonatas. In 1995 he won an Edison Award for a disc of piano works by Schumann. Other awards included the Franco Abbiati Prize in 1989 and 2006, and the 2006 Premio Internazionale Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli award.
In 2016 Radu Lupu was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 UK New Year Honours for services to music.
Lupu retired from the concert stage in 2019. He died in Lausanne after a long illness.
Links to two renowned performances by Radu Lupu:
A rare video recording of a Lupu performance,
Mozart: Piano Concerto no 19 in F, K459, with David Zinman and the Deutsche Kammerphiharmonie
Generally acknowledged to be one of the greatest piano-duet recordings of all time, with Lupu partnered in 1984 by his fellow Leeds prize winner Perahia.
Schubert: Fantasia in F minor, with Murray Perahia