American pianist Ruth Laredo, who was known for groundbreaking recordings of the complete works of Scriabin and Rachmaninoff, died in her sleep Wednesday night at her New York City apartment. She was 67.
The cause of death was ovarian cancer, according to her sister, Rayna Kogan of West Bloomfield, Mich.
Laredo had been living with the disease for four years but was actively performing until several weeks ago. Her last appearance was May 6 at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in her popular, long-running performance-lecture series "Concerts With Commentary."
Laredo was often billed, especially early in her career, as "America's first lady of the piano." But she fumed at her talent being linked to gender. "I hate these labels," she said in a 1983 Times interview. "I'd like to be known as an American pianist. Of that I'm proud. But it's no longer unusual for women to play the big works of Rachmaninoff and Brahms."
Laredo was born Ruth Meckler in 1937 in Detroit. She studied piano with Rudolf Serkin at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She graduated in 1960 and that year married violinist Jaime Laredo, with whom she played in concert. They divorced in 1976.