The South African pianist, Petronel Malan, was into a political family in South Africa, of French Huguenot descent, and started piano lessons with her mother, an opera singer, at age 4. She continued her studies with Adolph Hallis, a student of both Matthay and Leschetizky. Having debuted with the Johannesburg Symphony at age 10 and subsequently winning all major national competitions in her native country, she moved to the USA to further her studies. Following a degree at Michigan State University, she completed her graduate work at the University of North Texas. Her teachers have included Steven de Groote, Ralph Votapek and Joseph Banowetz.
Petronel Malan’s career was launched following five gold medals in 2000 at international piano competitions throughout the USA. These included the Louise McMahon, Missouri Southern, Los Angeles Liszt “Budapest Concert” and Hilton Head International Piano Competitions. In addition, she garnered the grand prize in the 2000 Web Concert Hall Competition and gold medals in both the Grace Welsh Piano Competition and the Entergy Young Artist Award.
Petronel Malan maintains a full performance schedule as recitalist, orchestral soloist and chamber musician in major venues throughout the world. After her European debut in Rome, in 1987, further highlights have include Carnegie Recital Hall, Salle Cortot (Paris), Mozarteum (Salzburg), Liszt Museum (Budapest), Orchestra Hall (Chicago), Bass Hall (Fort Worth), as well as appearances at both Ravinia and Gilmore International Piano Festivals. She has appeared with such orchestras as the St. Petersburg State Academy, Sicilian Chamber, Fort Collins, Elgin and Bellevue Symphonies and the Cape Town and Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestras, under the batons of Vasily Petrenko, Dmitry Manilov, Yoshimi Takeda, Omri Hadari, Bernhard Gueller, Wolfgang Bothe, James Brooks, Robert Hanson, Don Freund and Fuzao Kajima.
Lauded by reviewers as an unmistakably creative force in the classical music industry, Petronel Malan’s critical acclaim culminated in the nomination of three Grammy Awards, including “Best Instrumental Solo Album 2004” for her debut disc “Transfigured Bach: The Complete Bach Transcriptions of Bartok, Lipatti and Friedman.” As an exclusive recording artist for the internationally award-winning label Hänssler Classic, 2006 saw the release of “Transfigured Mozart.” Her latest disc in the “Transfigured –“ series is slated for international release in 2007.
Although a permanent resident of the USA (she is currently living in Denton near Dallas, Texas), Petronel Malan continues her strong ties to her native South Africa. In 2003, she received the “Rapport/City Press Prestige Award” as one of the “10 Most Inspirational Women in South Africa.” A popular celebrity in her home country, she has appeared on magazine covers and features, as well as a picture-clue in crossword puzzles. Apart from a love for vintage gowns, her stage wardrobe is designed by foremost South African designers such as Henja Schaap and Hip Hop Clothing. A frequent speaker and promoter for classical music in schools, music scholarships in her name are awarded annually to promising young South African musicians.