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Jonathan Biss

About this Artist

American pianist JONATHAN BISS has already proved himself an accomplished and exceptional musician with a flourishing international reputation through his orchestral, recital, and chamber music performances in North America and Europe and through his EMI Classics recordings. Noted for his prodigious technique, intriguing programs, artistic maturity and versatility, Biss performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven, through the Romantics to Janá?ek and Schoenberg as well as works by contemporary composers, including commissions from Leon Kirchner and Lewis Spratlan.

Since he made his New York Philharmonic debut in 2001, Biss has appeared with the foremost orchestras of the United States and Europe. He is a frequent performer at leading international music festivals and gives recitals in major music capitals both here and abroad.

Biss' Summer 2007 performances included return engagements at the Ravinia Festival, where he played an all-Beethoven recital with violinist Miriam Fried and a program of three Mozart Piano Concertos with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in the Philadelphia Orchestra's first season there, and the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He gave recitals in London and made his Lucerne Festival and Beethovenfest debuts. His chamber music engagements this summer included Caramoor with the Mendelssohn Quartet and Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival.

Highlights of his 2007/08 season have included debuts with five North American orchestras, namely the Cleveland Orchestra, the Dallas, Kansas City, San Diego, and Toronto symphonies, and many European orchestras, such as the Danish Radio, the Swedish Chamber, and the City of Birmingham orchestras and the Bamberg and BBC philharmonics. He will also return to Japan to make his Tokyo Symphony debut. Additional orchestral engagements include performances with the Budapest Festival, Metropolitan Opera, National Arts Centre, and Royal Scottish National orchestras, Los Angeles and New York philharmonics, the Saint Louis and San Francisco symphonies; as well as an Austrian tour with the Camerata Salzburg conducted by Sir Roger Norrington and a German tour with the Academy of St. Martin the Fields under Sir Neville Marriner.

During 2007/08, Biss will play almost a dozen recitals in the U.S., Europe, and in Japan, including solo performances in Chicago, London, Seville, Stuttgart, and Tokyo; duo recitals with violinist Miriam Fried in Austin, Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., and with baritone Christopher Maltman at the Concertgebouw; and two-piano recitals with Richard Goode in Denmark and in London.

An enthusiastic chamber musician, Biss has been a member of Chamber Music Society Two at Lincoln Center, a frequent participant at the Marlboro Music Festival, has toured with "Musicians from Marlboro" on several occasions, and frequently collaborates with such chamber ensembles as the Borromeo and Mendelssohn quartets.

In April 2006 EMI Classics signed Biss to a two-year exclusive contract. His first CD under this contract - an all-Schumann recital consisting of the Fantasie in C, Op. 17, Arabeske in C, Op. 18 and Kreisleriana, Op. 16 - was released to widespread praise and reached No. 5 on the classical charts. Gramophone Magazine called his performance "Schumann-playing on an exalted level," BBC Music Magazine said he "plays with a selfless maturity that is exceptional," and Classic fm commented that "Biss here applies humility and empathy to immerse his listeners in the essence of Schumann."

He recently recorded an all-Beethoven disc, comprising Beethoven Piano Sonatas Op. 13 (Pathetique), Op. 28 (Pastorale), Op. 90 (Moonlight), and Op.109, which was released by EMI Classics in October 2007. About the CD, Classic fm magazine remarked "Biss has the rare ability to make you sit up and take notice as if you were hearing a well-known piece for the very first time."

Biss' first commercial recording of works by Beethoven and Schumann was released in 2004 on EMI's Debut series. The San Francisco Chronicle called this a "brilliant debut release," the Los Angeles Times called Biss "a serious, accomplished artist who puts the composer before the player," and the Cleveland Plain Dealer remarked that this "recording is a clear signal that a master is emerging."

Biss made his New York recital debut at the 92nd Street Y's Tisch Center for the Arts in 2000 and his New York Philharmonic debut under Kurt Masur that same season. Among the many conductors with whom he has worked are Marin Alsop, Daniel Barenboim, Herbert Blomstedt, James Conlon, Charles Dutoit, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Sir Neville Marriner, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Pinchas Zukerman.

Jonathan 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), as well as his parents, violinist Miriam Fried and violist/violinist Paul Biss. Growing up surrounded by music, 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.

Biss, named the winner of the Leonard Bernstein Award at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, has won numerous other awards, including the 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award, Wolf Trap's Shouse Debut Artist Award, the Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Award, Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. He was an artist-in-residence on NPR's Performance Today and is the first American chosen to participate in the BBC's New Generation Artist program.