Performance Friday, January 17, 2014 | 8 PM

Jonathan Biss

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Hailed as “one of the most thoughtful and technically accomplished pianists of the younger generation” (BBC Music Magazine), Jonathan Biss has embarked on an ambitious project to record the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas. “His journey will be well worth following,” proclaimed The New York Times, and Carnegie Hall audiences get the chance to do so live when the intrepid pianist performs two of the sonatas from the cycle, including the "Waldstein," in a recital with works by Brahms, Chopin, and György Kurtág.


  • Jonathan Biss, Piano


  • BRAHMS Klavierstücke, Op. 119
  • GYÖRGY KURTÁG Selections from Játékok
    ·· Antiphone in F-sharp
    ·· Like the flowers of the field?
    ·· Hommage à Jeney
    ·· Fanfare to Judit Maros' wedding
    ·· Hommage à Schubert
    ·· (...and round and round it goes)
    ·· Farewell, S.W.
    ·· Birthday elegy for Judit - for the second finger of her left hand
  • CHOPIN Nocturnes, Op. 62
  • CHOPIN Polonaise-fantaisie in A-flat Major, Op. 61
  • BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, Op. 90
  • BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53, "Waldstein"

  • Encore:
  • BRAHMS Klavierstücke, Op. 119, No. 1

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Jonathan Biss

    American pianist Jonathan Biss is widely regarded for his artistry, musical intelligence, and deeply felt interpretations, winning international recognition for his orchestral, recital, and chamber music performances and for his award-winning recordings.

    During the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Biss's orchestral engagements include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony, among others. He also continues to play in the major recital series throughout the US and Europe.

    In January 2012, Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven's complete sonatas. Mr. Biss wrote about this recording project and his relationship with Beethoven's music more generally in Beethoven's Shadow,   an essay that was published electronically by RosettaBooks as a Kindle Single. His next Kindle Single, A Pianist Under the Influence, was released shortly thereafter.

    Mr. Biss represents the third generation in a family of professional musicians that includes his grandmother Raya Garbousova, one of the first well-known female cellists (for whom Samuel Barber composed his Cello Concerto), and his parents, violinist Miriam Fried and violist-violinist Paul Biss. Growing up surrounded by music, Mr. Biss began his piano studies at age six, and his first musical collaborations were with his mother and father. He studied at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart and at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Leon Fleisher. In 2010, Mr. Biss was appointed to Curtis's piano faculty, and in September 2013, he and the school partnered with Coursera-the leading provider of "massive online open courses"-to offer a free online course on Beethoven's piano sonatas. More than 30,000 people enrolled in the course-seven times the total number of students who have attended Curtis since the school opened its doors in October 1924.

    For more information about Jonathan Biss and to read his blog about his life as a musician, visit

    More Info

At a Glance

JOHANNES BRAHMS  Klavierstücke, Op. 119

Toward the end of his life, Brahms returned to the characteristically Romantic genre of the instrumental "character" piece, a time-honored vehicle for distilling a particular mood or musical idea to its essence in compact form. The four miniature masterpieces that Op. 119 comprises are the composer's last works for solo piano.

GYÖRGY KURTÁG  Selections from Játékok

György Kurtág's Játékok—the name means "games" in Hungarian—are playfully imaginative creations with a serious pedagogical purpose. As explorations of piano sound and technique, they belong to a long tradition of such pieces in the keyboard literature, from Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier to Bartók's Mikrokosmos

FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN  Nocturnes, Op. 62; Polonaise-fantaisie in A-flat Major, Op. 61

Chopin revolutionized piano writing through dozens of nocturnes, waltzes, mazurkas, and other solo pieces that imbued the brilliance of the salon style with unprecedented poetic depth. Robert Schumann, himself a master of character pieces, extolled Chopin's music, in which, he wrote, "imagination and technique share dominion side by side."  

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  Piano Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, Op. 90; Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53, "Waldstein"

Beethoven's contribution to the piano literature was equally revolutionary, in terms of both conception and technique. These two sonatas, written a decade apart, trace the composer's evolution from the brilliant "heroic" style of his so-called middle period to the denser, knottier idiom of his late-period works.

Program Notes


Jonathan Biss on recording the Beethoven piano sonatas.