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Internationally celebrated Romanian pianist Mihaela Ursuleasa passed away suddenly last Thursday August 2. The award-winning 33-year-old was found deceased in her apartment in Vienna, reportedly having suffered a cerebral haemorrhage.
Ursuleasa was born in Brasov, Romania in 1978. After playing for conductor Claudio Abbado at age 12, he arranged for her to study at the Vienna Conservatory where she earned a diploma in 1999. Likened to pianist Clara Haskil – also Romanian – she won the highly acclaimed Competition of the same name in 1995 and has been in demand as a soloist since.
As a Guest Artist Ursuleasa was in demand with many orchestras, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Similarly, her online biography details performances in venues such as London's Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as participation in prestigious international festivals including the Salzburg Festival, the Beethoven festivals in Warsaw and Bonn, and the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York.
Beginning piano lessons at the age of five, under the tutelage of her father – a jazz pianist who died when she was a young girl – she once declared that she practiced from 8am-8pm. While known for Romantic solo repertoire, she is described as an ardent chamber musicians and a proficient lied accompanist. Her 2010 debut solo album Piano & Forte received the ECHO Klassik award for Solo Recording of the Year. She released a second solo album of Enescu and Bartók, Romanian Rhapsody, in 2011.
Of her upcoming concerts, the following statement has been released on her website:
“A special request to each one of the promoters is to donate half of the fees planned for these concerts to a donation account that we will create for her seven year old.”
Ursuleasa was set to perform in Bucharest with the National Youth Orchestra on the day of her death and in Berlin on Saturday. Ursuleasa leaves behind her mother as well as a seven-year-old daughter.