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Unique lecture with Garrick Ohlsson; “Why Chopin? and Other Questions”

At University of California, Berkely, The Townsend Center’s Forum on the Humanities and the Public World presents eminent artists, political leaders, writers, and scholars, each representing a unique discipline, viewpoint, and medium. The series brings the humanities into dialogue with the critical issues at play in the public sphere. The Townsend Center at UC Berkeley has a long and distinguished tradition of humanistic scholarship, open dialogue, and pioneering innovation in the humanities. It is in this spirit that the Forum on the Humanities and the Public World presents leading figures from the academic and public worlds in settings designed for scholars and for the public at large.

On May 10th, 2010, the winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson gave a lecture there entitled; “Why Chopin? and Other Questions”.

In this conversation lecture Garrick Ohlsson discusses issues such as Chopin’s relationship to the piano (3.00), Chopin and period instruments (10.28), the “pianistic” Chopin (14.55), the Nocturnes (30.22) and performs the Nocturne in D-flat major Op. 27/2 (54.33).
In the final section he answers questions from the audience:
– On emotional contents, tempo and let go (1.01.12)
– Chopin and other composers (1.04.25)
– Chopin’s relation to opera and singing (1.08.00)

Garrick Ohlsson is regarded as one of the world’s leading performers of the music of FrĂ©dĂ©ric Chopin. He is also noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. A prolific recording artist, Mr Ohlsson can be heard on the Arabesque, RCA Victor Red Seal, Angel, Bridge, BMG, Delos, Hänssler, Nonesuch, Telarc and Virgin Classics labels. His undertaking of the complete Beethoven sonatas for Bridge Records resulted in a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (vol. 3 in the series). His sixteen-disc set of the complete works of Chopin, originally recorded for Arabesque, was re-released by Hyperion.

The Art of Chopin, trailer from the 2010 film
Five minutes excerpt from the film
Hear Ohlsson’s complete Chopin recordings on Hyperion label
Garrick Ohlsson entries in The New York Times


Garrick Ohlsson and Chopin´s Complete Works on Hyperion

“This is an oustanding achievement, which any genuine Chopin lover and student of Romantic music should own … A landmark in the recording of Chopin’s music … Garrick Ohlsson and Hyperion deserve the greatest success in bringing this important undertaking to such a consistently impressive conclusion” (International Record Review)

Garrick Ohlsson was the first American to win first prize in the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in 1970.
In recognition of the bicentenary of Chopin’s birthday Mr. Ohlsson just performed at the Chopin Birthday Concerts in Warsaw and Zelazowa Wola and will present a series of all-Chopin recital programs in Seattle, Berkeley and La Jolla culminating at Lincoln Center in fall and winter of 2010. In conjunction with that project a film based on Chopin’s life and his music, co-produced by Polish, French, British and Chinese television stations, is planned for simultaneous release.
A prolific recording artist, Mr. Ohlsson can be heard on the Arabesque, RCA Victor Red Seal, Angel, Bridge, BMG, Delos, EMI, Hänssler, Nonesuch, Telarc, and Virgin Classics labels. His undertaking of the complete Beethoven sonatas for Bridge Records has already resulted in 8 discs, the third of which won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance.

The English label Hyperion has now re-released his 16-disc set of the complete works of Chopin.

Link: Audio samples of ALL of Chopin’s piano works!

A sparkling fresh performance of Piano Concerto no 1 in e minor from Polish National Opera, Warsaw on Chopin’s 200th birthday, 1st March 2010:

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Sheet music of Chopin’s Piano Concerto no 1 to download:


Marathon Men – Two Complete Beethoven Sonatas Projects to Achieve Completion during 2009

Daniel Barenboim is not the only one to have successfully had the complete Beethoven sonatas on his agenda lately.

A Grammy nominee for “Best Classical Album (Without Orchestra)” for the second volume of his Complete Beethoven Sontata recordings for ECM, András Schiff began in 2004, a series of performances in Europe in which he explored the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in chronological order – a project recorded live for ECM New Series, to be released in eight volumes in 2009. Garrick Ohlsson performed the whole cycle at eight concerts at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland in 2005 and at Tanglewood in 2006. He will release the last volume in his Beethoven series during 2009 on the Bridge label. Notably, volume three was awarded a Grammy for “Best Classical Instrumental Soloist (Without Orchestra )” in 2008.

András Schiff was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1953. He began piano lessons at the age of five with Elisabeth Vadász and continued his musical studies at the Ferenc Liszt Academy with Professor Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados; he also studied with George Malcolm in London. Recitals and special projects take him to all of the international music capitals and include cycles of the major keyboard works of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin and BartĂłk. Schiff has established a prolific discography, including recordings for Teldec (1994-1997), London/Decca (1981-1994) and, since 1997, ECM New Series. Recordings for ECM include the complete solo piano music of Beethoven and Janácek, a solo disc of Schumann piano pieces and his second recording of the Bach Goldberg Variations. He has received several international recording awards, including two Grammy Awards for “Best Classical Instrumental Soloist (Without Orchestra)” for the Bach English Suites, and “Best Vocal Recording” for Schubert’s Schwanengesang with tenor Peter Schreier.

Recital reviews – Schiff
The Independent: Beethoven Sonatas / Schiff, Wigmore Hall, London
The New York Times: Beethoven Sonatas, With Fire and Finesse

Schiff´s London lectures on Beethoven’s piano sonatas in May 2006 were exceptionally well received and sold out.
You can listen to them all here:
Introduction by Guardian
Schiff’s lectures on the 32 Sonatas by Beethoven

Since his triumph at the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, American pianist Garrick Ohlsson has become established worldwide as a musician of extraordinary interpretive power and prodigious technical facility.
Although he has long been regarded as one of the world´s leading exponents of the music of Chopin, Mr. Ohlsson has an enormous repertoire that encompasses virtually the entire piano literature. A student of the late Claudio Arrau, Mr. Ohlsson is noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. Mr. Ohlsson’s concerto repertoire alone is unusually wide and eclectic, ranging from Haydn and Mozart to 20th-century masters, and to date he has at his command some 80 works for piano and orchestra.

Recital reviews – Ohlsson:
The New York Times: One Pianist, Two Sounds and a Single Composer
The Boston Globe: Marathon man

The New York Times asked Garrick Ohlsson to share his insights into Beethoven’s sonatas. In this series of features recorded in the WQXR studios, Mr. Ohlsson takes listeners on a journey through each of the sonatas, playing excerpts and talking about the music and the composer:
Garrick Ohlsson on Beethoven’s Sonatas


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