American pianist Jonathan Biss, widely regarded for his artistry and deeply felt interpretations, has won international recognition for his orchestral, recital, and chamber music performances on four continents and for his award-winning recordings. Noted also for his prodigious technique, intriguing programs, and musical intelligence, he performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven, through the Romantics to Janáček and Schoenberg, as well as works by contemporary composers, including commissions from Leon Kirchner, Lewis Spratlan, and this season, Bernard Rands.
Jonathan Biss, whom the Toronto Globe and Mail describes as “one of the most striking North American pianists of the new generation.” made his New York Philharmonic debut in 2001, and since then has appeared with the foremost orchestras of North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He is a frequent performer at leading international music festivals and gives recitals in major music capitals both at home and abroad.
This season his recital appearances take him to 10 countries across Europe and in the U.S. with highlights that include his debut at the Edinburgh Festival, his opening the Master Piano series at the Concertgebouw, and his much-anticipated Carnegie Hall main hall debut.
Mr. Biss’s orchestral debuts include the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, the London Symphony, the Seoul Philharmonic, and the Montreal Symphony, and he returns for performances with a dozen other major North American and European orchestras, such as the New York Philharmonic, the Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco Symphonies and the National Arts Centre and Budapest Festival Orchestras. In addition, in his second U.S. tour with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Mr. Biss play/directs the ensemble in two Mozart Piano Concertos—K. 271 and 414—in 10 cities.
An enthusiastic chamber musician and a frequent participant at the Marlboro Music Festival, Mr. Biss collaborates with many of today’s finest players, which this year includes performances with Midori, cellist Antoine Lederlin, and violist Nobuko Imai at Carnegie Hall’s Japan Festival and the Kennedy Center. He also performs the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 10 sonatas for violin and piano with Miriam Fried in Seoul, Korea.
Jonathan Biss’s newest recording is an album of Schubert Sonatas in A Major, D. 959 and C Major, D. 840 and two short Kurtág pieces from Játékok. It was released in October 2009 on the Wigmore Hall Live label and named by NPR Music as one of the best albums of the year. It follows four acclaimed recordings he made for EMI Classics, including an all-Schumann recital album, which won a Diapason d’Or de l’année award and a recital album of Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Opp. 13, 28, 90, and 109; which received an Edison Award. With the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra he recorded Mozart Piano Concertos 21 and 22 in a live performance at Queens College in New York, about which the Sunday Times in London wrote: “These are outstanding interpretations, the interplay of soloist and orchestra that of equals in complete sympathy.” His first recording for EMI Classics was a 2004 recording on EMI’s Debut series of works by Beethoven and Schumann.
At age 20, Mr. 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, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Sir Neville Marriner, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christoph von Dohnányi, 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), 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.
Mr. Biss has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Leonard Bernstein Award presented at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, 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, the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, and the 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award. He was an artist-in-residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and was the first American chosen to participate in the BBC’s New Generation Artist program.
Jonathan Biss blogs about his life as a musician at www.jonathanbiss.com