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Garrick Ohlsson (Piano)

Born: April 3, 1948 - Bronxville, New York, USA

The talented American pianist, Garrick (Olof) Ohlsson began his piano studies at the age of 8 with Thomas Tom Lishman at the Westchester Conservatory of Music in New York. In 1961, at 13, he entered the preparatory division of The Juilliard School in New York City as a student of Sascha Gorodnitzki and later of Rosina Lhévinne. (B.Mus., 1971). He also studied privately with Olga Barabini and Irma Wolpe. His musical development has been influenced in completely different ways by this succession of distinguished teachers, among whom was also Claudio Arrau. After winning First Prizes at the 1966 Busoni Competition in Italy and 1968 Montréal Piano Competition, he made his New York recital debut on Hanuary 5, 1970. Later that year he gained international recognition when he became the first American pianist to win the prestigious quinquennial Chopin Competition in Warsaw.A Polish writer described ohlsson as a "near-butterfly" for his abilty to traverse the entire spectrum of 18 dynamic degrees discernible on the modern piano, from the thundering fortississimo to the finest pianississimo, with regerence also to his height (6 foot, 4 inches), weight (225 lbs.), and strech of hands (an octave and 5th in the left hand and an octave and a 4th in the right hand).

Thereafter, Garrich Ohlsson pursued a ditinguished global career, gaining worldwide recognition as one of the finest pianists of his generation. He has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. His interpretations are marked by a distinctive Americanism, technically flawless and free of Romantic mannerisms. Although he has long been regarded as one of the world's leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature. He has come to be noted for his masterly performances of the works of W.A. Mozart, L.v. Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. His concerto repertoire alone is unusually wide and eclectic - ranging from Haydn and W.A. Mozart to works of the 21st century - and to date he has at his command some 80 concertos.

Garrich Ohlsson has made nearly a dozen tours of Poland, where he retains immense personal popularity. He has appeared with major symphony orchestras in Europe, USA, Japan, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. In the late 1980's and early 1990's he appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the USA; European engagements with the Münchner Philharmoniker, North German Radio Orchestea, Rottrerdam Philharmonic Orchestra, all the London orchestras; City of London Festival, South Bank Summer Music, Promenade Concerts with BBC Symphony Orchestra; Festivals, recitals, concerts in Bergen, Prague, Sofia, Dubrovnik, Tivoli. He has also performed with symphony orchestras of Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Denver Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra (Washington D.C.), and Berkeley; and the National Arts Centre, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Lincoln Center.

During the summer of 2006, Garrick Ohlsson presented the complete cycle of L.v. Beethoven piano sonatas in both the Ravinia and Tanglewood festivals, a cycle he performed for the first time in the summer of 2005 at Switzerland's prestigious Verbier Festival. In 2006-2007, he opened the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York in a live, nationally televised performance. He also appeared in North America and Canada with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, among others. A series of recitals in Anchorage, Boston, Cleveland, Florida, Los Angeles, Ottawa, and San Francisco culminated in three recitals of L.v. Beethoven sonatas at Lincoln Center, and a performance of L.v. Beethoven's "Emperor" concerto at Carnegie Hall with Orchestra of St. Luke's. In Europe, he performed at the BBC Proms with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, at the Warsaw Chopin Festival, with the Czech Philharmonic, with the BBC Philharmonic, and in recital in Spain and Italy.

In the 2007-2008 season, Garrick Ohlsson appeared with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra, among others. Special projects included performances in Berkeley and Los Angeles with Mark Morris Dance Group and pianist Yoko Nozaki in Mozart Dances; performances with the Russian National Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski in California and at New York's Lincoln Center; and a Florida tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, he performed with the Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, RTVE Madrid, MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, and Sydney Symphony Orchestra with Vladimir Ashkenazy.

In the 2008-2009 season, Garrick Ohlsson appeared in North America with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra, among others. He performed Prokofiev's Fifth Piano Concerto with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, followed by a west coast tour including Seattle and Los Angeles' Disney Hall. With pianist Yoko Nozaki, Ohlsson reprised their performances with Mark Morris Dance Group in the critically acclaimed Mozart Dances. With contralto Ewa Podleś, he embarked on a tour of North America, followed by the release of their live-recorded recital from London's Wigmore Hall, a project he will revisit with her in the same hall in December 2009. A recital project focusing on the piano music of Scriabin and Russian contemporaries, which began in San Francisco and San Diego in the spring of 2008, continued through the 2008-2009 season and included performances at New York's 92nd Street Y. In Europe, Ohlsson performed with the Salzburg Mozarteum and Hugh Wolff, Hallé Orchestra with both Mark Elder and Edward Gardner, and Deutsche Symphony Berlin.

In recognition of the bicentenary of F. Chopin's birthday Garrick Ohlsson will present a series of all-F. Chopin recital programs in Seattle, Berkeley and La Jolla culminating at Lincoln Center in fall and winter of 2010. In conjunction with that project a film based on F. Chopin's life and his music, co-produced by Polish, French, British and Chinese television stations, is planned for simultaneous release. Other highlights during the 2009-2010 season include Martinu's rarely performed Concerto No. 4 with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as well as appearances with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He will be heard in solo recital in Chicago, Fort Worth, and Philadelphia and in a special gala concert to be presented in F. Chopin's birth house in Warsaw on March 1, Ohlsson's debut in Russia will take place during St. Petersburg's winter festival in December, when he appears both in recital and with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

Garrick Ohlsson is an avid chamber musician who has collaborated with the Cleveland, Emerson, Takács and Tokyo string quartets, among other ensembles. Together with violinist Jorja Fleezanis and cellist Michael Grebanier, he is a founding member of the San Francisco-based FOG Trio. He toured with the Takács Quartet in 2005-2006.

A prolific recording artist, Garrick Ohlsson can be heard on the Arabesque Recordings, RCA Victor Red Seal, Angel Records, Bridge Records, BMG, Delos International, Hänssler Classic, Nonesuch Records, Telarc, EMI Classicsand Virgin Classics labels. His recordings include: Johannes Brahms Concerto No. 1 (Tennstedt/London Philharmonic Orchestra); Franz Liszt Concerti & solo works by F. Chopin (EMI); Scriabin Piano Concerto with Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (Supraphon). His undertaking of the complete L.v. Beethoven sonatas for Bridge Records has already resulted in 8 discs, the third of which won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance. In the fall of 2008 the English label Hyperion re-released his 16-disc set of the complete works of F. Chopin. His next release on that label is due in Spring 2010.

Garrick Ohlsson was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1994 and received the 1998 University Musical Society Distinguished Artist Award in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In February 2008, he won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra) for his L.v. Beethoven Sonatas, Vol. 3 (Bridge Records, Inc.). He makes his home in San Francisco.

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Source: Opus 3 Artists Website; Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); International Who's Who in Music & Musicians' Directory (13th Edition, 1992/93)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (August 2009)

Garrick Ohlsson: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Artist's Biography: Garrick Ohlsson (In-Tune Productions) [2002]
Garick Ohlsson (Opus3 Artists)
Garrick Ohlsson (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)

Garrick Ohlsson (Wikipedia)
Garrick Ohlsson (AMG)

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