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Abdel Rachman El Bacha (Piano)

Born: October 23, 1958 - Beirut, Lebanon

The Lebanese pianist and composer, Abdel Rahman El Bacha, was born in a family of musicians - his father was a well-known composer and his mother was a singer. He is a nephew of a famous painter. El Bacha remarked in an interview that his mother possessed a sharp ear for music without the ability to read it in written form, and that this taught him the importance of learning music by ear. By the age of 6 El Bacha could play the piano and at 9, in 1967, he began serious keyboard studies with Zvart Sarkissian, a pupil of Marguerite Long and Jacques Février. At the age of 10 he gave his first concert with an orchestra, performing the J.S. Bach's D minor Concerto. At 13 he gave his first recital, at the American University of Beirut recital hall, before an audience that included embassy officials from France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. In 1973 Claudio Arrau predicted a great career for him and in 1974 he was offered a scholarship by France, the former USSR and the UK. He took up the French offer out of cultural affinity and in 1974 entered the Paris Conservatoire in the class of Pierre Sancan. He graduated with 4 first prizes: piano, chamber music, harmony and counterpoint.

Abdel Rahman El Bacha won a string of prizes in competitions in the coming years, but his greatest victory came at the age of 19, in June 1978, when he won first prize at the Concours Reine Elisabeth de Belgique (Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition) by a unanimous judgment. He was also awarded the Audience Prize at the same competition. After this competition, which launched him on the international scene, he chose to bide his time in order to enlarge and further study his repertory.

Abdel Rahman El Bacha steadily built his career throughout the 1980's and 1990's. He is considered among the leading Classical pianists to have emerged from the Middle East in the latter decades of the 20th century. The musical press have compared him with the greatest pianists, laying emphasis on the mastery, the limpidity, the virtuosity and the serenity of his playing, going to the very core of emotion. From the Salzburg Mozarteum to the Paris Théâtre des Champs Elysées, from the Berlin Philharmonie to the Amsterdam Concertgebouwand the Herkulessaal in Munich, he performs today all over Europe, in Russia, Japan, the Midlle East, the USA, Central and South America. His vast repertory, including almost 60 concertos, is based mainly on the works of J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, L.v. Beethoven (complete concertos and sonatas), Schubert, Frédéric Chopin (all the solo works), Robert Schumann, Sergei Rachmaninov, Ravel (all the solo works), Prokofiev (complete concertos) and Béla Bartók (complete concertos). He has performed under eminent conductors with prestigious orchestras such as the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Orchestre de Paris, the NHK Tokyo, L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande...

In 1983, his first recording for the label Forlane, Early Works by Sergei Prokofiev, was awarded the "Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros"; the composer's widow, Lina Prokofiev, presented the award. For the same label he has recorded 3 Concertos by J.S. Bach, Ravel's 2 Concertos and works by Robert Schumann, Ravel and Schubert. His recording of L.v. Beethoven's complete Piano Sonatas, just as his concert performances of these works, were heralded by the press as a "major event". The second CD of these L.v. Beethoven recordings, as well as his Ravel recital, were awarded the "Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque Français." For F. Chopin's Melodies with Ewa Podleś, he also received the "Gerarld Moore Prize" - best accompanist - from the Académie du Disque Lyrique. He has also recorded F. Chopin's complete solo piano works (12 CD) in chronological order. In March 2002, he obtained a triumph in Nantes, with the complete piano solo works of F. Chopin given (by heart) in 16 recitals over a period of six days in a row. He renewed this experience at La Roque d'Anthéron Festival in 15 recitals given in July 2003 and this year at the Sintra Festival (Portugal) and in Avignon. The 2-CD of F. Chopin's complete works for piano and orchestra, recorded with the Orchestre de Bretagne conducted by Stefan Sanderling are also available. In September 2004, El Bacha recorded "live" for Fuga Libera Sergei Prokofiev's 5 Concertos with the Monnaie Symphony Orchestra in Brussels, conducted by Kazushi Ono. For Naxos he recorded works by the Franco-Lebanese composer Bechara El Khoury.

Abdel Rahman El Bacha was granted the double French-Lebanese citizenship in 1981. He is also a composer. On March 22, 2002, the Orchestre Régional de Cannes-Provence-Côte d'Azur created 2 Préludes mystiques he has written. He was made "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres" by the French Minister of Culture in 1998 and he has been awarded the "Médaille de l'Ordre du Mérite "1"" by the President of the Republic of Lebanon, the highest distinction of his native country. Abdel Rahman El Bacha lives near Paris, France.

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Source: Facebook page of Abdel Rahman El Bacha; Wikipedia Website; Naxos Website; All Music Guide (Author: Robert Cummings)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2009)

Abdel Rahman El Bacha: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Abdel Rachman El Bacha (Wikipedia)
Abdel Rachman El Bacha Biography (Naxos)
Facebook: Abdel Rachman El Bacha
Abdel Rachman El Bacha (

Abdel Rachman El Bacha - Biography & Interview (Pianobleu) [French]
Lebanese pianist and composer Abdel Rahman El Bacha talks to Neda el Khazen (Find Articles) [Nov 1992]

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