The Romanian classical pianist, Dinu Lipatti, was born into a musical family: his father was a violinist, his mother a pianist, and his godfather was the violinist and composer George Enescu. He studied at the Gheorghe Lazăr High School, and finished second at the 1934 Vienna International Piano Competition, which led to Alfred Cortot, who thought he should have won, resigning from the jury in protest. Lipatti subsequently studied under Alfred Cortot, Nadia Boulanger (with whom he recorded a number of Johannes Brahms' Liebeslieder waltzes in the four-hand arrangement), Paul Dukas (composition) and Charles Munch (conducting) in Paris.
Dinu Lipatti returned to Rumania in 1939. His career was interrupted by World War II, although he continued to give concerts throughout Europe, including Nazi-occupied territories. He only fled the country in 1943 with his fiancée Madeleine Cantacuzene (later his wife and then widow), via Scandinavia, to Switzerland, where at the Geneva Conservatoire he held the highest piano professorship from 1944 to 1949. He concertized widely in Europe, including Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Belgium and Holland, and his fame and popularity grew rapidly. He was also much sought after as a teacher for his masterclasses.
In the last six years of his life, Dinu Lipatti was diagnosed with leukaemia. Yet his drive did not diminish and his playing never suffered. There were even plans for a concert tour in America, but relapses caused it to be cancelled. In his last year, his illness was kept at bay temporarily with a new drug, cortisone - the cost of which devoted friends like Yehudi Menuhin, Charles Munch and Igor Stravinsky contributed no small amounts. It was during this remission that Lipatti, much against the advice of his doctors, decided to honour his concert engagement and played his final recital at Besançon on September 16, 1950. Unfortunately, the leukaemia returned; Lipatti finally succumbed and died a painful death in Geneva on December 2, 1950, at the tragically young age of 33. He is buried at the cemetery of Chêne-Bourg, an outskirt of Geneva close to the border with France, next to his wife Madeleine, a noted piano teacher.
Dinu Lipatti's playing was hailed as having reached the highest degrees in integrity and pianistic technique - which he employed in the quest for musical perfection. Despite a relatively short playing career and a relatively small recorded legacy, Lipatti is considered among the finest pianists of the 20th century. He is particularly noted for his interpretations of W.A. Mozart and Frédéric Chopin, but he also made recordings of Franz Liszt, George Enescu, Maurice Ravel's Alborada del Gracioso, Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto and Grieg Piano Concerto piano concertos, and J.S. Bach (the latter two are widely considered to be among the finest ever made). His recording of F. Chopin's Waltzes has remained in print since its release and has long been a favorite of many classical music-lovers.
In addition to his pianistic accomplishments, Dinu Lipatti was a composer, who wrote in a neoclassical style with French and Romanian influences. He was posthumously made a member of the Romanian Academy (in 1997).