Alicia De Larrocha was born in Barcelona in 1923 and studied there with Frank Marshall - himself a student of the great Spanish composer Enrique Granados. She was widely considered the greatest Spanish pianist of her time and one of the greatest pianistic talents ever.
I remember first hearing her play in a television broadcast of Live from Lincoln Center, where she played Mozart’s last concerto with Gerard Schwarz conducting. This was stunning playing and made a deep impression on me. To this day I can remember every note of that performance.
I went on to become fascinated with her playing and listened to everything I could. Despite her small stature (she was by all accounts less than 5-feet tall) she played some of the biggest, most demanding pieces in the repertoire (Liszt Sonata, Rachmaninoff 3rd Concerto, Brahms 2nd Concerto, etc.) and with such aplomb, you would never know just how difficult these pieces were.
My teacher, Earl Wild, was friendly with her and would meet her for lunch whenever they were in NY together (they both lived there, but were often out of town touring). He told me how much he enjoyed her company and said that she was one of the funniest people he’d ever met.