Donald Munro, Fresno Bee
As a little girl, Gabriela Martinez was an unstoppable force at the piano.
Her mother, a noted piano teacher in Caracas, Venezuela, told her at age 4 she had to wait for lessons.
Little Gabriela pesisted.
“My mom would teach all of her students at home, and I’d always be surrounded by music,” says Pianist Gabriela MartinezMartinez, who performs Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 this weekend in a “Russian Romantics” concert with the Fresno Philharmonic. “I would run to the piano and play back what her students were playing. She’d say, ‘No, you’re too young.’ ”
Finally, her mother relented.
By age 6, Martinez was begging to play Beethoven’s second piano concerto after hearing a 10-year-old student practicing it. Again, Mom put her foot down. She was too young to tackle such a big piece.
Guess who won?
At age 7, Martinez played the concerto at her orchestral debut.
When she was 11, her family moved to New York so she could study piano. She studied at the Juilliard School with Yoheved Kaplinsky, eventually getting her master’s degree there, then a doctorate from a German university.
Now in her late 20s, she made the shift from prodigy status to international performing artist years ago. She reached the semifinals of the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and won the first prize and audience award at the Anton G. Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Dresden. She has performed in leading concert halls around the world, including Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York and Davies Hall in San Francisco.
Gabriela Martinez plays Rachmaninoff Piano concerto No 2 :