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Ageing, ageism, photography, stories

29th May 2019

Alberto Portugheis, 78

Alberto is an award-winning pianist, born in Argentina to parents of Russian and Romanian descent. His career takes him all over the world, but he lives in London, where he also works as a piano teacher.

“I discovered music thanks to our neighbours in Argentina. I would be on the street playing with my friends and the sound from their radio flowing through the window would stop me in my tracks. My first teacher commented quite early on that I should be a professional musician. Eventually, she said she had taught me everything she knew, so I went off to Buenos Aires to study the piano.

In those days, being a boy from an unmusical family, playing the piano was very unusual and my father didn’t approve. His dream was that his son wouldn’t have to start from scratch like he did – he had worked hard to start a furniture shop and planned to pass it on to me. When I lived at home, we fought all the time because he wanted to watch TV when he came back from work and I had to practice for my lessons. He would turn the TV up louder and louder while I was trying to play, it was awful. I think he ended up being proud of me, but he never showed it.

When I was child I didn’t realize that music was a profession, particularly as my family weren’t involved in it. At about age 11, I went to my first concert, of a Russian pianist in my hometown, and I remember wondering what he did for a real job. It didn’t occur to me that he would be paid.

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