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Boris Berman (Piano, Harpsichord)

Born: April 3, 1948 - Moscow, Russia

The Russian-bormn American pianist, harpsichordist and pedagogue, studied at Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory with the distinguished pianist Lev Oborin and graduated in 1971 ( with distinction as both pianist and harpsichordist..

Boris Berman made his debut in Moscow in 1965. He joined an early music ensemble, at the time the only one in Russia, as a harpsichordist. He performed extensively throughout the Soviet Union as a recitalist and appeared as guest soloist with numerous orchestras, including the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. At the same time he worked with contemporary composers such as Alfred Schnittke and Edison Denisov. He played in the first Russian performances of works by Arnold Schoenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio, György Ligeti and American iconoclast John Cage,, and the world premieres of Alfred Schnittke's Serenade and E. Denisov's Ode.

In 1973, Boris Berman left a flourishing career in the Soviet Union to emigrate to Israel. He quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after keyboard performers, as well as one of the country's more influential musical personalities. He joined the faculty of Tel Aviv University (Rubin Academy of Music; 1973-1979) and at its campus in Jerusalem (1976-1979), winning respect as an outstanding pedagogue. In 1979 he went to the USA and served as artist-in-residence at Brandeis University until 1981; subsequently taught at Indiana University in Bloomington (1981-1982) and at Boston University (1982-1984). In 1984 he joined the faculty of the Yale University School of Music, where he was professor and head of its piano department from 1986 until 1997..He continues to reside chiefly in the USA. He was the Founding Director of the Music Spectrum concert series in Israel (1975-1984) and of the Yale Music Spectrum series in the USA (1984-1997). These concert series were hailed by the critics for the inventiveness of their programming.

Boris Berman also pursued a global concert career, appearing as soloist with principal orchs., as a recitalist, and as a chamber music artist. He has achieved an important place among contemporary pianists with a wide repertoire, which embraces not only the great masters and the music of his native country, but also includes an extensive survey of modern composers. In addition to his performances of Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Ravel, Dmitri Shostakovich, Stockhausen, Luciano Berio, and Schnittke, he has won particular distinction for his interpretations of the complete solo piano music of Prokofiev, including his exceedingly demanding transcriptions. Showing a consistent concern for balancing intellectual inquiry and temperament in his playing, he has performed worldwide. His artistry is well known to the audiences of over forty countries on six continents. His highly acclaimed performances have included appearances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Philharmonia Orchestra (London), Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. A frequent performer on major recital series, he has also appeared in important festivals, such as Marlboro, Waterloo, Bergen, Ravinia and Israel Festival, to name a few.

Boris Berman is an active performer of chamber music. He has appeared in numerous concerts and festivals with such artists and groups as Mischa Maisky, Heinz Holliger, Aurèle Nicolet, Shlomo Mintz, Gyorgy Pauk, Ralph Kirshbaum, Frans Helmerson, Natalia Gutman, Tokyo Quartet, Vermeer Quartet, The Netherland Wind Ensemble and many others.

A dedicated teacher of international stature, Boris Berman has served on the faculties of the world's finest schools, such as Indiana (Bloomington), Boston, Brandeis and Tel-Aviv Universities, and the Yale School of Music. He also conducts master-classes throughout the world. He has been the Founding Director of the Yale Summer Piano Institute (1990-1992) and of the International Summer Piano Institute in Hong Kong (1995-1997), a joint effort between Yale University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.. Berman's ability to recognize and commitment to nurture young talents are obvious reasons for him being invited to join panels of jurors of various national and international competitions, such as those in Leeds, Dublin and the Artur Rubinstein Competition Tel-Aviv.

Certainly, Boris Berman's position among his colleagues and with the public has been enhanced by the numerous recordings. His acclaimed releases on Philips, Deutsche Gramophon and Melodia labels have been complemented with 2 CDís of all piano sonatas by Alexander Scriabin for the Music and Arts label and a recital of D. Shostakovich piano works (Ottavo recordings), which received the Edison Classic Award in Holland (1990), the Dutch equivalent of the Grammy. The recording of three Prokofiev Concertos with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Neeme Järvi, was named CD of the Month by CD Review, an auspicious beginning to Chandos Record's ambitious Prokofiev project, including the complete Prokofiev solo piano works. The first pianist ever to undertake this task, Berman has released it on nine Chandos CDís to great critical acclaim. In addition, Chandos has issued Berman's recitals of works by Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, and Schnittke, as well as chamber music of Janacek, and - together with L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Neeme Järvi - Concerto by I. Stravinsky.

Berman's most recent discography shows the breadth of his repertoire: a disc "Debussy for Children" (Ottavo). For Naxos, he has produced two widely acclaimed discs of John Cage's music. His recording for Naxos American Classics of the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano gained a five-star rating both in Classic CD and BBC Music magazines. His second volume of Cage piano music was also well received, the American Record Guide commenting that: " Berman is clearly as much a master of Cage's anti-piano as he is of the real thing"; the Grammy-nominated Piano Quintets of D. Shostakovich and Schnittke with Vermeer Quartet (Naxos); and, quite unexpectedly, a recording of Scott Joplin's Ragtimes (Ottavo). In the recently issued Naxos collection of complete Sequenzas by L. Berio, Berman plays Sequenza IV for piano. For the recording of Johannes Brahms Sonatas with the cellist Clive Greensmith (Biddulph label) he used a 1867 Bechstein piano.

In 2000, the prestigious Yale University Press has published Boris Berman's Notesfrom the Pianist's Bench. In this book, Professor Berman draws on his vast experience as a performer and a teacher to explore issues of piano technique and music interpretation. The book has been translated to several languages. In the spring of 2008, Yale University Press has published his new book Prokofiev's Piano Sonatas: A Guide for the Listener and the Performer". Berman is often invited to give lectures on these subjects in various universities and conferences around the world.

In 2006-2007 season, Boris Berman appeared with orchestras, as well as in festivals and recitals, in the USA, Japan, China, Israel, Australia, Russia, Italy, Poland, England, Portugal, Spain, Germany, and Holland. (Touring). In 2008-2009 season, he appeared with orchestras, as well as in festivals and recitals, in USA, China, Germany, Israel, Australia, Latvia, Italy, Poland, England, Portugal, Spain, and Holland. His performance of Prokofiev Concerto No. 4 in the Carnegie Hall in New York inaugurated the new Prokofiev Society of America, of which Mr. Berman is the Founding Co-President.

"Cage is served remarkably well in his goal by Boris Berman...the performance of these sonatasdevelops over the course of these nineteen pieces a continuity that takes holdof our imagination." - Pianist magazine on Boris Berman's Naxos recording of Cage's Music for Prepared Piano.

More Photos

Source: Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Naxos Website (November 2001); Wikipedia Website (October 2010); All Music Guide (Author: Erik Eriksson); SIPO Website; Svensk Konsertdirektion AB Website (January 2009)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (February 2011)

Boris Berman: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Boris Berman - Biography (Naxos)
Boris Berman (Wikipedia)
Boris Berman - Biography (AMG)
Boris Berman - piano (Pro Artist)
Boris Berman - piano (Svensk Konsertdirektion AB)

Music at Yale: Boris Berman
Boris Berman (Pantheon)
Boris Berman (International Piano Academy Lake Como)
Boris Berman (SIPO)

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