Romanian-born Israeli violinist and pedagogue, Miriam Fried Biss, was born Romania, but moved with her family to Israel when she was aged 2. Her family settled in Herzliya. Her mother was a piano teacher. She first took up piano lessons but when she was 8 years old she made a definite choice for the violin. Her early childhood included lessons with Alice Fenyves in Tel Aviv, as well as the opportunity to meet and play for the many great violinists who visited Israel, including Isaac Stern, Nathan Milstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Henryk Szeryng, Zino Francescatti, and Erica Morini. Her studies with Alice Fenyves in Tel Aviv, where she obtained her Bachelor of Music degree at Rubin Academy of Music (1964), continued under her brother Lorand Fenyves at Geneva. She came to the USA as a protégée of Isaac Stern, and continued her studies with Ivan Galamian at the Juilliard School and with Joseph Gingold at Indiana University. Her successful solo career was launched in 1968 after she was awarded First Prize in Genoa’s Paganini International Competition. Three years later (1971) she claimed top honors in the Queen Elisabeth International Competition, where she gained further world attention by becoming the first woman ever to win the prestigious award.
Miriam Fried has been recognized for years as one of the world’s preeminent violinists. A consummate musician—equally accomplished as recitalist, concerto soloist or chamber musician - she has been heralded for her “fiery intensity and emotional depth” (Musical America) as well as for her technical mastery. She has played with virtually every major orchestra in the USA and Europe and has been a frequent guest with the principal orchestras of Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, as well as with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Wiener Symphoniker. Recital tours have taken her to all of the major music centers in North America and to Brussels, London, Milan, Munich, Rome, Paris, Salzburg, Stockholm, and Zürich.
Chamber music plays an important role in Miriam Fried's musical life. She was first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet until it disbanded after 30 years, and has collaborated with such distinguished artists as Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, Garrick Ohlsson, Nathaniel Rosen, her son, pianist Jonathan Biss, and her husband, violinist/violist Paul Biss. She has been featured guest artist at Chamber Music East in Boston, the La Jolla Chamber Music Society SummerFest, the Lockenhaus Festival, and the Naantali Festival in Finland.
Miriam Fried's highly praised 1985 New York recitals of the complete J.S. Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin (BWV 1001-1006) were the culmination of three years of international performances. She returned to this music with a recording made in France in December 1997 and released in the spring of 1999 on the Lyrinx label. She has also made a prize-winning, best-selling recording of the Sibelius Concerto for the Finlandia label with the Helsinki Philharmonic under the direction of Okko Kamu.
In recent seasons, her schedule has included orchestral engagements with such prestigious ensembles as the Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestre de Paris, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Orquesta Filarmonica de Mexico, Japan Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, and the BBC Philharmonic. She premiered a Violin Concerto written for her by Donald Erb with the Grand Rapids Symphony and recorded the work for Koss in 1995. Other composers who have written works for her include Ned Rorem and Alexander Boskovich.
During her sabbatical leave during the 2015-2016 school year, Miriam Fried returned again to the J.S. Bach solo Sonatas and partitas (BWV 1001-1006). She recorded a series of lectures addressing performance questions relating to these works. The lectures are now available on iclassical-academy.com. They were followed by master-classes focusing entirely on this repertoire. During this year she performed all of the sonatas and partitas in several venues including the Ravinia Festival, Belgium, Toronto, Vancouver, Baltimore and in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem concerts were recorded c in December 2016 and released in 2017.
Miriam Fried plays a 1718 Stradivarius believed to have been formerly owned by Louis Spohr, and also by Regina Strinasacchi, for whom W.A. Mozart wrote his Sonata in B-flat, K. 454.
Since 1993, Miriam Fried has been Artistic Director and chair of the faculty at the Steans Institute for Young Artists of the Ravinia Festival, one of the country’s leading summer programs for young musicians. Her involvement there has included regular performances, including recitals and concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is a member of the faculty of the New England Conservatory. She was Professor of Violin at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University (since 1986). Her students include Pekka Kuusisto and Nancy Zhou. She gives master classes internationally.
Miriam Fried is married to the violinist and violist Paul Biss, the son of the Russian-born cellist Raya Garbousova. Their sons are the pianist Jonathan Biss, with whom she often plays, and Illinois State Senator Daniel Biss.