Maria João Alexandre Barbosa Pires born in Lisbon, Pena, July 23, 1944 is a Portuguese pianist with dual Portuguese and Swiss nationality, residing in Portugal.
Very early she learned to play the piano: at the age of five she gave her first recital and at seven she publicly played Mozart concertos. At the age of nine, she received the Portuguese Musical Youth award. Between 1953 and 1960 she studied with Professor Campos Coelho at the Lisbon Conservatory. She continues her musical studies in Germany, first at the Musikakademie in Munich with Rosl Schmid and then in Hanover with Karl Engel.
Maria João Pires gained international recognition when she won the international competition for Beethoven’s bicentennial in 1970, which took place in Brussels.
She has toured extensively throughout her career, performing works by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, Mozart, Brahms, Chopin and many other composers from the classical and romantic periods. Maria João Pires is regularly invited by major world orchestras to play in the best concert halls, performing regularly in Europe, Canada, Japan, Israel and the United States.
She has been active both on an individual level (recitals, concerts, recordings) and in chamber music: of her numerous record successes, the Moonlight recordings, with Beethoven sonatas, stand out; Le Voyage Magnifique, complete from Schubert’s Impromptus; nocturnes and other works by Chopin; Grieg’s sonatas and Mozart’s trios, with Augustin Dumay (violin) and Jiang Wang (cello).
She was the founder and leader of the Belgais Center for the Study of the Arts, in Escalos de Baixo in the municipality of Castelo Branco, with a pedagogical, cultural and social nature. The pianist left the Center in 2006, when she moved to Brazil. On the occasion, she declared to Antena 2 and Aguarrás that she had suffered a lot while trying to implement her project in Portugal. The activities of the Belgais Center were closed in 2009.
In Brazil, she acquired a house in Lauro de Freitas, in the Metropolitan Region of Salvador, state of Bahia, where she moved to 2008.
“The pianist Maria João Pires confirmed that she is considering applying for Brazilian nationality and, in this way, having dual nationality, and not refusing Portuguese citizenship, as previously reported. The pianist’s lawyer sent a note to Lusa, where he denied the claim. “alleged desire” of Maria João Pires “to renounce Portuguese nationality”, due to an “alleged anger” with the Government”.
On August 9, 1983, she was awarded the rank of Lady of the Military Order of Sant’Iago da Espada, on February 4, 1989, with the rank of Commander of the Order of Infante D. Henrique, on June 9, 1998 she was elevated to the rank of Grand Cross of the Military Order of Sant’Iago da Espada and on May 19, 2019, she was elevated to the rank of Grand Cross of the Order of Infante D. Henrique.
She was married to the fado singer João Ferreira-Rosa, before marrying Ernst Ortwin Noth (Frankfurt, December 4, 1939), with whom she had two daughters, Joana Benedita (b. 1967) and Maria Madalena (1968).
She was distinguished with a Gramophone Award, considered the Oscar of classical music, which she received in September 2015 in London.
After living in Brazil, Belgium and Switzerland, she returned to Belgais, Portugal, in 2017.
On May 18, 2019 she received the Medal of Cultural Merit.
In 2023 she will receive honorary membership of the Royal Academy of Music.