Performance Thursday, November 13, 2014 | 8 PM

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The New York Times wrote of Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s Bach, “… the music had a severe and wondrous beauty.” Aimard performs the first book of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, a set of 24 preludes and fugues in the 12 major and minor keys. Here, Bach takes an academic tuning exercise and creates one of the great keyboard works, renowned for its intellectual depth and technical brilliance.


  • Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano


  • BACH The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating before intermission.


  • Pierre-Laurent Aimard

    Widely acclaimed as a key figure in the music of our time and as a uniquely significant interpreter of piano repertoire from every age, Pierre-Laurent Aimard enjoys an internationally celebrated career. He performs throughout the world each season with major orchestras under conductors who include Riccardo Chailly, Vladimir Jurowski, Peter Eötvös, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Sir Simon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. He has been invited to create, direct, and perform in a number of residencies, including projects at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonie, Mozarteum Salzburg, Cité de la Musique, and the Southbank Centre; as well as with the Lucerne and Tanglewood festivals. Mr. Aimard is also the artistic director of the prestigious and historic Aldeburgh Festival.

    Current and future highlights include solo recitals in London, New York, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Vienna, Beijing, and Amsterdam; and concerto appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Mr. Aimard also regularly directs concerts from the keyboard with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. In autumn 2014, he joins the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich to give the world premiere of a piano concerto by Harrison Birtwistle, with further performances in Porto, London, and Boston. In spring 2015, Mr. Aimard undertakes a recital tour with Tamara Stefanovich, performing Boulez's completed works for piano in celebration of the composer's 90th birthday.

    Born in Lyon, France, in 1957, Mr. Aimard studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Yvonne Loriod and in London with Maria Curcio. Early career landmarks include winning first prize in the 1973 Messiaen Competition at the age of 16 and being appointed three years later by Pierre Boulez to become the Ensemble intercontemporain's first solo pianist.

    Mr. Aimard has had close collaborations with many leading composers, including György Kurtág, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez, and George Benjamin, as well as a long association with György Ligeti, recording his complete works for piano. Most recently, he performed the world premiere of Tristan Murail's piano concerto, as well as Elliott Carter's last piece, Epigrams for violin, cello, and piano, which was written for Mr. Aimard and premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2013.

    Through professorships at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln and Paris Conservatoire, as well as numerous series of concert lectures and workshops worldwide, Mr. Aimard sheds an inspiring and personal light on music of all periods. In 2009, he was invited to give a series of classes and seminars at the Collège de France in Paris.He was the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society's Instrumentalist Award in spring 2005 and was named Instrumentalist of the Year by Musical America in 2007. In 2015, he launches a major online resource centered on the performance and teaching of Ligeti's piano music, featuring filmed master classes and performances of the etudes and other works by Ligeti in collaboration with Klavier-Festival Ruhr and Vincent Meyer.

    Mr. Aimard now records exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon. His first DG release, Bach's Art of Fugue, received both the Diapason d'Or and Choc du Monde de la Musique awards, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's classical chart, and topped iTunes's classical album download chart. In recent years, Mr. Aimard has been honored with ECHO Klassik awards, most recently in 2009 for his recording of solo piano pieces, Hommage à Messiaen.That same year, he was also presented with Germany's Schallplattenkritik Honorary Prize. His Ives: Concord Sonata / Songs recording received a Grammy Award in 2005. Further releases for DG-including The Liszt Project in 2011 and Debussy preludes in 2012-are joined by a new recording of Bach'sThe Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, which was released last summer.

    More Info


Bach's Art of the Fugue - Contrapunctus 9. a 4 alla Duodecima
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano
Deutsche Grammophon

At a Glance

Tonight’s recital features one of the most iconic works in Western art. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier—once described as “the Old Testament of music”—is a remarkable example of a technical exercise that rose far above its status. With the advent of a new tuning system that largely evened out the individual tones of the chromatic scale, composers were able to exploit all 12 major and minor keys. In response, Bach wrote a brilliant sequence of preludes and fugues in every major and minor key on the keyboard. Intended at first for the harpsichord, The Well-Tempered Clavier has been played in various arrangements since its creation, and revered by numerous composers, instrumentalists, and audiences.

Uniform though its stream of paired preludes and fugues may seem when listed on a concert program, Bach nonetheless offers an extraordinary variety of styles and moods across “the 48,” of which we hear the first 24, composed in the city of Köthen in 1722. Beginning with the seraphic C-Major Prelude (the basis for Gounod’s 19th-century setting of “Ave Maria”) and closing with the epic B-Minor Fugue, this first book—used variously as a teaching aid and a compositional manual—defies categorization. Quite simply, it numbers among the finest musical works ever created.
Program Notes
This performance is part of Keyboard Virtuosos II.