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John Robilette (Piano)

Born: Chicago, Illinois, USA

The American pianist, John Robilette, was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Wisconsin. He began his early studies in the Midwest with a pupil of Alfred Cortot. Afterward, he went to the École Normale de Musique in Paris, France where he studied with Madame Bascourret de Guèraldi, a former assistant to Alfred Cortot. He then went to Los Angeles to study with Aube Tzerko, a former assistant to Artur Schnabel, thus establishing a link with the interpretive style of two of the greatest pianists of the first half of the 20th century. During this time, Robilette was chosen as a Tanglewood Fellow where he came under the aegis of Raymond Lewenthal and was awarded three public performances of chamber music (including the Liszt Grand Duo), at the Tanglewood Summer Music Festival in 1974. Afterward, he was privately sponsored by people in Hollywood and Switzerland to return to Europe for further study with Louis Kenner and Peter Feuchtwanger in London. Robilette holds an MFA from niversity of California, Los Angele (UCLA) and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Catholic University of America, where he came under the guidance of the great American pianist, William Masselos.

John Robilette’s international concert career has extended to performances in twenty four countries around the world including: the USA, Russia, Holland, England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Iceland, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Belarus, Italy, Portugal (and the Azores), Turkey, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Venezuela, The Dominican Republic, and Chile. He has performed notably at the Wigmore Hall and Saint John Smith’s Square in London, the Kennedy Center and the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. the Sala Cecelia Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in a live recital and interview over WNYC public radio in New York City (“Around New York”), and at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution as one of the official events of the 1981 presidential inauguration.

hn Robilette’s repertoire has covered Mozart to Camille Saint-Saëns, with renditions of major piano concertos including: L.v. Beethoven, Robert Schumann, César Franck and C. Saint-Saëns and the Mozart Rondo in D. They have also been broadcast in major cities throughout the USA. The emotional and romantic warmth of his playing, plus the elegance and generosity of expression have caused some critics to regard him as a throw back to the “Golden Age” of piano playing. He has represented the USA as a cultural ambassador on two world tours to Europe and South America in 1987 and 1988, and has since performed in the residencies of many American Ambassadors including those in: Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santa Domingo, Prague, Luxembourg, Belarus and London.

John Robilette has been involved in wedding the arts and music to US public diplomacy and cultural exchange, having created the Artistic Ambassador Program for Charles Z. Wick, then Director of United States Information Agency in the 1980’s, and a close friend of President Reagan. After establishing this federal program, Robilette then directed it for seven years during which time it became popular in 63 countries overseas. The program held live auditions in the 50 states seeking unrecognized American classical musicians who were then sent on concert tours throughout the world as part of American public diplomacy. The New York Times called it “an innovative cultural program,” and Musical America said that, “It is doubtful if any federal program in this century has proven more cost effective.” The program was honored in the East Room of the White House in May 1986. As a further corollary, Robilette also commissioned eminent American composers to write pieces for the Artistic Ambassadors tours. These composers included: Morton Gould, Norman Dello Joio, George Rochberg, Ernst Bacon, Ross Lee Finney, Elie Siegmeister, Benjamin Lees, Leo Smit, Lee Hoiby, Robert Muczynski, William Mayer, George Perle and Lukas Foss. Their manuscripts reside in a special archive at the Library of Congress.

In 2002 John Robilette was asked to design and oversee a live concert series at the Voice of America in Washington, D.C., in celebration of the VOA’s 60th anniversary of broadcasting. This series featured leading classical artists in the USA and was broadcast biweekly to thirty million people throughout the world. The Washington Post called it an "artistically distinguished lunchtime recital series." In 2005, he organized a major event at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. which was funded by Alcoa, entitled: “The Power of Great Music in the Revival of US Public Diplomacy.” The evening featured many distinguished cultural icons and political leaders of the USA, all calling on the American government to do more in using music to create understanding between people. Georgie Anne Geyer, the syndicated columnist, brought attention to the evening and the roster by writing that “It is made up of sterling Americans such as John Robilette, the great pianist who performed that evening and started the original program.”

John Robilette has given public master-classes at the Mozarteum in Innsbrück, Austria, the National Conservatory in Belarus and two weeks of master-classes at the University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. In the USA, he has conducted master-classes at Rice University, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and George Washington University in Washington, DC. He has also served on the piano faculties of Westchester University in Pennsylvania and The Catholic University of America.

John Robilette has made commercial recordings with international distribution that have garnered critical acclaim. His discography include: "Robert Schumann Piano Concerto and Carnaval" (ProArte); "French Piano Album" (ProArte); "John Robilette Piano Concerti - Beethoven, Mozart, Saint-Saëns” (MSR); "John Robilette Live At Wigmore Hall in London" (MSR); “Piano: The Greatest Hits” (Reference Gold by Intersound)

Source: John Robilette Website; Wikipedia Website (December 2012)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (March 2013)

John Robilette: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

John Robilette - Concert Pianist (Official Website)

John Robilette (Wikipedia)

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