Part of: Keyboard Virtuosos III: Keynotes
As a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007, pianist Leon Fleisher was recognized as a “consummate musician whose career is a testament to the life-affirming power of art.”
The child prodigy began to study the piano at the age of four, and by the age of nine, he was invited by legendary Artur Schnabel to be his student. Mr. Fleisher made his debut when he was 16 years old with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Pierre Monteux. He went on to international renown, becoming the first American to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1952. He subsequently enjoyed a prolific recording career, most notably with George Szell and The Cleveland Orchestra.
In 1965, Mr. Fleisher began to suffer symptoms of a debilitating condition in his right hand, later diagnosed as focal dystonia, a neurological condition that causes the fingers to curl into the palm. After a period of great despair,
Mr. Fleisher channeled his creativity in new directions, mastering the piano repertoire for left hand, initiating a career in conducting, and redoubling his dedication to teaching at Peabody.
In the middle of the 1990s, with the combined therapies of Botox injections and Rolfing, Mr. Fleisher regained sufficient use of his right hand. In 2003, he joined forces with his wife, pianist Katherine Jacobson, to form the Fleisher-Jacobson Piano Duo. He released the album Two Hands in 2004, which went on to hold a top-five position in Billboard and was hailed by critics as one of the best recordings of the year. In 2013, Sony Classical issued a 23-CD boxset of his entire recorded output, and in 2014, Mr. Fleisher released his first solo CD in a decade, the Grammy-nominated All the Things You Are.
In celebration of his 90th year, he appeared in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal as soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Peter Oundjian, and at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival. In the 2018–2019 season, he continues the celebration with recitals in Philadelphia; Washington, DC; and San Francisco; as well as at Ravinia and Tanglewood.
Jonathan Biss is a world-renowned pianist who shares his deep curiosity with music lovers in the concert hall and beyond. He continues to expand his reputation as a teacher, musical thinker, and one of the great Beethoven interpreters of our time. He was recently named co-artistic director alongside Mitsuko Uchida at the Marlboro Music Festival, where he has spent 12 summers. In addition, he has written extensively about his relationships with the composers with whom he shares a stage.
A member of the faculty of his alma mater—the Curtis Institute of Music—since 2010, Mr. Biss led the first massive open online course (MOOC) offered by a classical music conservatory, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, which has reached more than 200,000 people in 185 countries. As 2020—the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth—approaches, Mr. Biss continues to add lectures to his online course until he covers all of the sonatas in time for the anniversary year. He simultaneously progresses through his nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas, which will also be completed in 2020. Volume 8 of this endeavor will be released this March.
Mr. Biss’s bestselling eBook, Beethoven’s Shadow (published by RosettaBooks in 2011), describes the process of recording the sonatas and was the first book written by a classical musician in the Kindle Singles series. He also conceived the Beethoven/5 project, for which The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra has co-commissioned Timo Andres, Sally Beamish, Salvatore Sciarrino, Caroline Shaw, and Brett Dean to write piano concertos, each inspired by one of Beethoven’s. The concerto by Shaw, Watermark, receives its premiere with the Seattle Symphony at the end of this month. Mr. Biss is committed to making sure that these concertos become part of the repertoire and has performed the commissions globally.
Mr. Biss has long-standing relationships with the New York Philharmonic; the Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Philharmonia orchestras; the Boston, Chicago, and Swedish Radio symphony orchestras; and the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Budapest Festival, and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras, among many others. He began piano lessons at age six, and studied at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart and at the Curtis Institute of Music with Leon Fleisher.
Internationally recognized as one of today’s most acclaimed and admired pianists, Yefim Bronfman stands among a handful of artists regularly sought out by festivals, orchestras, and conductors. His commanding technique, power, and exceptional lyrical gifts are consistently acknowledged by the press and audiences alike.
In celebration of the 80th birthday of Yuri Temirkanov, Mr. Bronfman’s 2018–2019 season began with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra on tour in Europe. This season also includes a Scandinavian tour with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and guest appearances with orchestras across Europe including, Orchestre National de France, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Berliner Philharmoniker, and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. In the US, he makes orchestral appearances in Cleveland, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, St. Louis, Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Dallas. He is scheduled to give recitals in New York, Berkeley, Stanford, Aspen, Madrid, Geneva, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich, Berlin, Naples, and Rome. He also tours with mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená.
He also has given numerous solo recitals in the leading halls of North America, Europe, and Asia, including his acclaimed debut at Carnegie Hall in 1989. In 1991, he gave a series of joint recitals with Isaac Stern in Russia, marking Mr. Bronfman’s first public performances there since his immigration to Israel at age 15. That same year, he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, one of the highest honors given to American instrumentalists. He made his debut performance at Avery Fisher Hall (now David Geffen Hall) in 1993. In 2010, he was honored as the recipient of Northwestern University’s Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance.
Born in Tashkent in the Soviet Union, Yefim Bronfman immigrated to Israel with his family in 1973, where he studied with pianist Arie Vardi. In the US, he studied at The Juilliard School, Marlboro School of Music, and Curtis Institute of Music under Rudolf Firkušný, Leon Fleisher, and Rudolf Serkin. He is a 2015 recipient of an honorary doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music.
Yefim Bronfman became an American citizen in July of 1989.
Joel Link, Violin
Bryan Lee, Violin
Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, Viola
Camden Shaw, Cello
The phenomenal Dover Quartet rose to international stardom following a stunning sweep of the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition. Winner of the Cleveland Quartet Award and recipient of a coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Dover Quartet has become one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world. Its move from up-and-coming ensemble to a leader in the field has been “practically meteoric” (Strings Magazine). With its burnished warmth, incisive rhythms, and natural phrasing, the quartet’s distinctive sound has helped confirm its status as “the young American string quartet of the moment” (The New Yorker). It is the quartet-in-residence at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, Chamber Music Northwest, Artosphere, Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, and Peoples’ Symphony Concerts in New York, and it was recently named the first-ever quartet-in-residence at the Kennedy Center.
In the 2018–2019 season, the Dover Quartet performs more than 100 concerts across North America, including appearances at the Kennedy Center, San Francisco Performances, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Spivey Hall at Clayton State University, Celebrity Series of Boston, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, and Carnegie Hall. In addition, the season features tours to Asia, Europe, and Australia, as well as collaborations with Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Peter Serkin, Anthony McGill, and Roomful of Teeth. It also includes premieres of new works by Caroline Shaw and Matan Porat. The quartet was thrilled to be invited by maverick filmmaker and cultural icon David Lynch to be featured at his Festival of Disruption in Los Angeles.
The members of the Dover Quartet play on a variety of fine historical and modern instruments. Joel Link performs on a violin by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume made in Paris circa 1857, on generous loan from Desirée Ruhstrat. Bryan Lee performs on a violin by Riccardo Antoniazzi made in Milan in 1904. Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt performs on a viola by Michele Deconet made in Venice in 1780 (the “Kroyt”), on generous loan from the grandson of Boris Kroyt of the Budapest String Quartet. Camden Shaw performs on a cello by Sam Zygmuntowicz made in Brooklyn in 2010.
Rachel Calin has been called “a lyrical soloist in command of her instrument” by The New York Times. In 1994 while at The Juilliard School, she won first prize in the concerto competition, making her debut in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center with the Juilliard Orchestra. Ms. Calin has since gone on to dedicate herself to both chamber music and teaching.
As a chamber musician, Ms. Calin has appeared in concert across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. She has performed frequently with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. She has appeared on Live from Lincoln Center, and at the Aspen Music and Mostly Mozart festivals. She can be heard on numerous movie and commercial soundtracks. Ms. Calin has given world premieres of works by composers such as Lera Auerbach and D. Edward Davis. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard, where she studied with both Homer Mensch and Eugene Levinson. Currently on faculty at the Perlman Music Program and the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music, Ms. Calin performs on a bass by Nicolò Amati made in 1654.