When Menahem Pressler made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in January 2014 at the age of 90, it was a spectacular event – not so much because of the advanced age of the soloist, but because of his unique musicality that seemed to come from another world. Such a soft legato, such expressive articulation, such a singing tone – it was simply breathtaking. Simon Rattle, who was then in the audience, did not hesitate to immediately invite Menahem Pressler to make a guest appearance in the Berliner Philharmoniker’s New Year’s Eve concert that very year, a concert which was shown on television worldwide (and is still available in the archive of the Digital Concert Hall).
At that time, Menahem Pressler could look back on a very full and eventful life. Born the son of a Jewish family in Magdeburg in 1923, he fled from the Nazis with his parents to Palestine in 1939. Following his emigration to the US, he founded the Beaux Arts Trio in 1955, an ensemble which gained a reputation as the most important piano trio of the 20th century – until it disbanded in 2008 and Menahem Pressler’s amazing solo career began.
Our film portrait seeks to find out more about this fascinating musician and man who lives not in the past, but very much in the here and now. A charming man who is nevertheless relentlessly critical of himself and others when it comes to achieving the highest musical standards. This is shown both in interviews with colleagues such as the violinist Daniel Hope, and in excerpts from his master classes. What stands out in all of this is one of Menahem Pressler’s central driving forces: his deep love of music and of life.