Meet The Performers

Visiting Artist - Piano

Jonathan Biss


American pianist Jonathan Biss is widely regarded for his artistry, musical intelligence and deeply felt interpretations, winning international recognition for his orchestral, recital, and chamber music performances and for his award-winning recordings.  He performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven, through the Romantics to Janácek and Schoenberg, as well as works by contemporary composers such as György Kurtág and including commissions from Leon Kirchner, Lewis Spratlan, Timo Andres, and Bernard Rands.

In the 2013-2014 Season, Mr. Biss’s orchestral engagements include the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic, the San Antonio Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, NDR Hannover, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, and Leipzig Gewandhaus, among others.  

Jonathan Biss continues to play in the major recital series in the US and in Europe—he twice opened the Master Piano Series at the Concertgebouw, Salzburg, Lucerne, and Edinburgh Festivals, the Beethovenfest, Bonn and the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg.  Mr. Biss made his much-anticipated Carnegie Hall recital debut in January 2011 with a program of works by Beethoven, Schumann, Janácek and a new work written for him by Bernard Rands.  He continues to appear regularly at Carnegie Hall, and will present his second Stern Auditorium recital in January 2014.  

In January 2012 Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete sonatas.  Mr. Biss wrote about this recording project and his relationship with Beethoven's music more generally in Beethoven’s Shadow, an essay that was published electronically by RosettaBooks as a Kindle Single, available from  Beethoven’s Shadow subsequently ranked as the best-selling Music e-book title on Amazon in the U.S. and the U.K.  His next Kindle Single,  A Pianist Under the Influence, was released shortly thereafter.

Mr. Biss’s previous recordings include an album of Schubert's Sonatas in A Major, D. 959 and C Major, D. 840 and two short Kurtág pieces from Játékok that 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 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.  His first recording for EMI Classics was of works by Beethoven and Schumann in 2004 on EMI’s Debut series.  

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, Andris Nelsons, Antonio Pappano, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christoph von Dohnányi , Jirai Valcua, Ludovic Morlot, Robin Ticciatti 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.  In 2010, Mr. Biss was appointed to Curtis's piano faculty, and in September 2013, he and the Curtis Institute of Music partnered with Coursera—the leading provider of “massive online open courses”—to offer a free, online course on Beethoven’s piano sonatas.  Over 30,000 people enrolled in the course: seven times the total number of students who have attended Curtis since the school opened its doors in October 1924.

Mr. Biss has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Leonard Bernstein Award presented at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Wolf Trap’s Debut Artist 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.  For more information about Jonathan Biss and to read his blog about his life as a musician go to, or visit his fan page on Facebook. 

Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.