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Pianist and Writer Käbi Laretei Dead at 92

Estonian and Swedish concert pianist and writer Käbi Laretei, once married to Swedish film giant Ingmar Bergman, died on Saturday.

Käbi Laretei was born in Tartu on July 14, 1922, and emigrated to Sweden at the age of 18 in 1940.

Laretei had a distinguished career as a concert pianist. She played in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and the United States.

Laretei married Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman in 1959. They had a son Daniel in 1962, but got divorced 10 years later. Bergman's 1961 film "Through a Glass Darkly" is dedicated to her.

She has also written a number of books about her life and music, both in Swedish and Estonian, hosted Swedish TV programs, and been the subject of numerous television and film documentaries.

Jüri Reinvere, Laretei's friend and student, said that she was a unique person. "For example, she was the type of lady who managed to live her life as an Estonian, who didn't feel that she lost something in the Second World War," Reinvere told ETV's "Aktuaalne Kaamera".

She had an extraordinary skill to have no limits, Reinvere said: "Her cosmopolitanism was demonstrated by the fact that she spoke five or six languages each day completely flawlessly. Writing in them was as easy for her as changing her clothes. She never let herself be bound by limits. And she never got old."

Journalist Heidit Kaio, who interviewed Laretei in Stockholm two years ago, said that she was an exciting person, who knew how to live her life to the fullest.

"Her career really kicked off in the second half of her life, she was in her 40s when she played her famous concerts in the United States." And Bergman's "Autumn Sonata", for which Laretei was the prototype of the main hero, was made when she was 56, Kaio said.

Film producer and director Ilmar Taska, said that Käbi Laretei is part of cultural history of both Estonia and Sweden.

"She had deep roots but was at the same time rootless. If the 20th century tore Estonians from their homeland, Käbi Laretei managed to form a deeper attachment to Sweden than many others and introduced the Swedes to Estonian culture. She had a long and interesting life. Ingmar Bergman was a companion, with whom she remained friends until death," he said, adding that Laretei was accomplished in both music and literature.

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