Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. Although he has long been regarded as one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Mr. Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature. A student of the late Claudio Arrau, Mr. Ohlsson has come to be noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. His concerto repertoire alone is unusually wide and eclectic – ranging from Haydn and Mozart to works of the 21st century – and to date he has at his command some 80 concertos.
In recognition of the bicentenary of Chopin’s birthday Mr. Ohlsson 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. Other highlights during the 2009-2010 season include Martinu’s rarely performed Concerto no. 4 with the New York Philharmonic and the BBC Scottish Symphony as well as appearances with the symphony orchestras of San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta, Vancouver, Indianapolis, San Diego, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Baltimore. He will be heard in solo recital in Chicago, Fort Worth, and Philadelphia and in a special gala concert to be presented in Chopin’s birth house in Warsaw on March 1st. Mr. Ohlsson’s debut in Russia will take place during St. Petersburg’s winter festival in December, when he appears both in recital and with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic.
In the 2008-09 season, Mr. Ohlsson appeared in North America with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and the National Symphony Orchestra, among others. He performed Prokofiev’s Fifth Piano Concerto with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, followed by a west coast tour including Seattle and Los Angeles’ Disney Hall. With pianist Yoko Nozaki, Mr. Ohlsson reprised their performances with Mark Morris Dance Group in the critically acclaimed “Mozart Dances”. With contralto Ewa Podles, he embarked on a tour of North America, followed by the release of their live-recorded recital from London’s Wigmore Hall, a project he will revisit with her in the same hall in December 2009. A solo recital project focusing on the piano music of Scriabin and Russian contemporaries, which began in San Francisco and San Diego in the spring of 2008, continued through the 08/09 season and included performances at New York’s 92nd Street Y. In Europe, Mr. Ohlsson performed with the Salzburg Mozarteum and Hugh Wolff, the Halle Orchestra with both Mark Elder and Edward Gardner, and the Deutsche Symphony Berlin.
In the 2007-08 season, Mr. Ohlsson appeared with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Houston, San Francisco, and Toronto, among others. Special projects included performances in Berkeley and Los Angeles with Mark Morris Dance Group and pianist Yoko Nozaki in “Mozart Dances”; performances with the Russian National Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski in California and at New York’s Lincoln Center; and a Florida tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Additionally, he performed with the Warsaw Philharmonic, RTVE Madrid, the MDR Leipzig Symphony Orchestra, and the Sydney Symphony with Vladimir Ashkenazy.
In 2006-07, Mr. Ohlsson opened the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York in a live, nationally televised performance. He also appeared in North America and Canada with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, Montreal, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh, among others. A series of recitals in Anchorage, Boston, Cleveland, Florida, Los Angeles, Ottawa, and San Francisco culminated in three recitals of Beethoven sonatas at Lincoln Center, and a performance of Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto at Carnegie Hall with Orchestra of St. Luke’s. In Europe, he performed at the BBC Proms with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, at the Warsaw Chopin Festival, with the Czech Philharmonic, with the BBC Philharmonic, and in recital in Spain and Italy.
During the summer of 2006, Mr. Ohlsson presented the complete cycle of Beethoven piano sonatas in both the Ravinia and Tanglewood festivals, a cycle he performed for the first time in the summer of 2005 at Switzerland’s prestigious Verbier Festival.
Mr. Ohlsson is an avid chamber musician who has collaborated with the Cleveland, Emerson, Takács and Tokyo string quartets, among other ensembles. Together with violinist Jorja Fleezanis and cellist Michael Grebanier, he is a founding member of the San Francisco-based FOG Trio.
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 has already resulted in 8 discs, the third of which won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance. In the fall of 2008 the English label Hyperion re-released his 16-disc set of the complete works of Chopin. His next release on that label is due in Spring 2010.
A native of White Plains, N.Y., Mr. Ohlsson began his piano studies at the age of 8. He attended the Westchester Conservatory of Music and at 13 entered The Juilliard School in New York City. His musical development has been influenced in completely different ways by a succession of distinguished teachers, most notably Claudio Arrau, Olga Barabini, Tom Lishman, Sascha Gorodnitzki, Rosina Lhévinne and Irma Wolpe. Although he won First Prizes at the 1966 Busoni Competition in Italy and 1968 Montréal Piano Competition, it was his 1970 triumph at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, where he won the Gold Medal that brought him worldwide recognition as one of the finest pianists of his generation. Since then he has made nearly a dozen tours of Poland, where he retains immense personal popularity. Mr. Ohlsson was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1994 and received the 1998 University Musical Society Distinguished Artist Award in Ann Arbor, Mich. In February 2008, he won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra) for his Beethoven Sonatas, Vol. 3 (Bridge Records, Inc.). He makes his home in San Francisco.