Pianist Menahem Pressler died Saturday in London at the age of 99. Pressler was born into a Jewish family in Magdeburg in late December 1923. The Presslers managed to escape the Nazis to Palestine in 1938. In 1946, he won the Debussy Competition in San Francisco. In the late 1940s, he settled permanently in America and changed his first name from Max to Menahem. In 1955, he formed the Beaux Arts Trio with French violinist Daniel Guilet and cellist Bernard Greenhouse. For more than half a century, Pressler was the heart of the trio. Violinists and cellists came and went, but he stayed until the end. The trio gave its farewell concert in 2009. Pressler continued his solo career and teaching. At 90, he made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic, playing Mozart’s 17th Piano Concerto.
In 2011, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Classical Music Awards, but said at the time he wanted to continue playing until at least 120. Now he has died a few months short of his 100th birthday.