French pianist Brigitte Engerer has died

The French President pays tribute to the 59-year-old virtuoso, who has lost her battle with cancer.

French pianist Brigitte Engerer has died in Paris at the age of 59, after having battled cancer for several years.

A specialist in French and Russian repertoire, Engerer took her final bow on June 12 at the Champs-Élysées Theatre in the Schumann Piano Concerto, accompanied by the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris. Her last concert appearance took place 50 years after she first performed at that Paris venue, and less than two weeks before her death.

French President François Hollande said in a statement he was "saddened" by the news of her death and that Engerer's "talent... honoured France".consta

Engerer always "supported young musicians... while pursuing a remarkable international career", he said.

"We will all remember her great personal bravery" in "fighting the illness that took her from us."

The Tunisian-born pianist went to study at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 11, then to the Moscow Conservatory in 1969. "A part of her became Russian", said her agent Constance 

Born on October 27, 1952 in Tunis, Engerer started playing the piano at age four and went to study at the Paris Conservatory at the age of 11.

In 1969 she left Paris for the Moscow Conservatory, which gave her a deep affiliation with the works of Russian composers, including Tchaikovsky's "The Seasons" and Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition". She would later release recordings of both.

"A part of her became Russian," her agent said a spokesperson from her agency Concerts De Valmalete.

She has performed as a soloist with some of the world's finest orchestras and conductors including Daniel Barenboim and Herbert von Karajan, who invited her to play with the Berlin Philharmonic when she was 25.

Engerer was an ardent champion of chamber music, playing with regular partners violinist Olivier Charlier, cellist Henri Demarquette and Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky. She recorded extensively for Harmonia Mundi, Philips, Decca and other labels.

Her numerous accolades  include the French Legion of Honour and the lifetime achievement award of the French music industry's Victoires de la Musique.

She was married to French novelist Yann Queffélec (the brother of pianist Anne Queffélec) and is survived by him and their daughter.

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French pianist Brigitte Engerer has died
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