The Japanese pianist, Yukio Yokoyama, took up the piano in early childhood, showing an early talent for the instrument and for composition. He played already as a child pieces of his own composition and performed with orchestras both in Japan and abroad. He was introduced to Herbert von Karajan and Mstislav Rostropovich at a young age, who announced that the child should dedicate himself to music. At the age of 12 he started studying piano under Jun Date and composition under Masayuki Nagatomi. In 1984, he won the first prize in the piano division of the All Japan Student Music Concours sponsored by the newspaper Mainichi Shimbun. He entered the high school associated to the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music in 1986, and in the following year went to study at Conservatoire national superieur de musique de Paris with a scholarship from the French Government. There, he studied under Jacques Rouvier, Vlado Perlemuter and others. In 1989 he won prizes at the Busconi International Concours and the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibeaud Concours. In 1990 he graduated from the Paris Conservatoire with grants of Premiere Prix in piano and chamber music. The same year, at the age of 19, he realized the impressive achievement of becoming the youngest-ever Japanese entrant to become the second finalist in the Chopin International Piano Competition, and winning 3rd prize (no first prize was allocated this year) from the Chopin International Piano Competition and also the Sonata prize.
Since then Yukio Yokoyama has continued to pursue a path uniquely his own and achieve brilliant results as a leading musical artist of popularity and formidable talent. He is a pianist with a classic sensibility. His characteristic expressive depth is born of a beautiful and refined style, and his playing combines a rich sense of color with meticulous organizational skills.He then officially began his concert activities, including recitals and performances with orchestras in cities all around the world, in addition to chamber music and radio broadcast performances. In 1991, Yokoyama released his first two CD’s, of Chopin piano concerto No. 1, and Piano Sonata Nos. 2 and 3, on Sony records. He was awarded the Cziffra Foundation Award in Paris in the same year. In 1992 Yokoyama received the 18th Japan Chopin Association Award. The same year he began a 7 year project to perform the complete works of Chopin. In April 1994, Yokoyama's fourth CD, of works by Debussy and Ravel, was released, to high critical acclaim. In November 1995 his fifth CD, L.v. Beethoven's works, was released. His activities in 1996 include an astonishingly successful Austrian debut with the Wiener Kammerorchester in the Wiener Konzerthausgesellschaft and the Brucknerhaus in Linz, performing Mozart's K. 271. His debut in Germany followed, with subscription concerts with the Berliner Symphoniker under Michael Schoenwandt in the Berliner Konzerthaus, performing L.v. Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5. Then he released his sixth album, Chopin: Fantaise - Impromptu. He also published the score of Chopin’s Fantaise - Impromptu, especially edited by himself. This year he toured Japan with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra under Temirkanov and Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer later this year, both highly acclaimed by the audience and critiques. In 1997 Maestro Neeme Järvi re-invited Yokoyama this time to perform with his Orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and they toured in Japan with great success. The live recording of their concert is now released by Sony. He also toured with concertmaster of Wiener Philharmoniker, Daniel Gaede this year, with much success. Gaede continues now to perform with him worldwide.His CD release of more Chopin works, the Nocturnes, also followed this year. Following in 1998, he performed all complete solo works of L.v. Beethoven including the 32 Sonatas, Variations and Bagatelles in a mere 10 months period in a series from the invitation of Saitama Prefectural Arts Center. He also participated in several International Music Festivals this year including the Prague Spring Festival, the Janacek May Festival, both in Czech Republic, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland, and the Festival Semaines Musicales en Touraine in France. He also made a debut recital at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie this fall which was praised well for a newcomer. His new CD, Franz Liszt’s Etudes of Transcendental Techniques was also released by Sony in fall in Japan, which was produced by Grammy nominated producer, Wolf Erichson. In 1999, this F. Liszt CD won the 25th International Liszt Grand Prix for a new recording. This award is unique in that the 10 judges listen to the CD’s with the names of all performers covered up, insuring that judgement is based only on the recordings themselves. Some past winners of the award include such renowned pianists as Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, Maurizio Polliniamong others. He also won the Shinnitetsu Music Award this year granted to promising young musicians. He then released more Chopin works in the memory of the Chopin's 150th year after his death. Later this year, he overwhelmed a full house by performing three Sergei Rachmaninov Piano Concertos in one night in Tokyo.
In 2000, Yukio Yokoyama’s live recordings of his L.v. Beethoven concerts of 1998 were released by Sony. This highly praised L.v. Beethoven set includes not only the 32 Sonatas, but all the major piano works such as the Bagatelles and all the Variations within 12 CD’s, each disk containing performances of each concert. This brilliant CD set of L.v. Beethoven was acknowledged as dramatically outstanding and was awarded by the Agency of Cultural Affairs. He has also won the Mobil Music Prize this year granted to promising young artists of Japan. In 2001, he made his successful recital debut as well as concerto debut in St. Petersburg with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra under Nikolai Alexeev. He composes his own music for piano and other instruments. A CD with all of his recent piano works was released by Sony in the fall of 2002 accompanied by a publication of the music byYamaha Music Media. Throughout the years 2002 to 2004, he recorded all the L.v. Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Japan Chamber Orchestra. This chamber orchestra is very special as it is composed by the top members of the Japanese Orchestras and they engage no conductors. The CD packet released in Spring 2005, attracted much attention of the mass media. During 2005-2006, Yokoyama performed together with Berliner Symphoniker Emperor Concerto under the baton of Eriaf Inbal. He also performed F. Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 with the NHK symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jun Merkl. He has accomplished the marathon concert of all 5 L.v. Beethoven piano concertos with the Japan Chamber Orchestra performed in one night. With much success, he performed together with the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Myung-Whun Chung. He regularly appears as chamber musician at the Miyazaki International Music Festival. In 2007 summer, he performed L.v. Beethoven’s five sonatas in one night at Tokyo Opera City winning loud applause. Yokoyama’s newest CD, “Bach: Goldberg Variations” was released in February this year and met with high critical acclaim everywhere. Currently Professor at Ueno Gakuen, and Adjunct Professor at Elisabeth University of Music, Yokoyama is also devoted to educating young musicians.
Yukio Yokoyama is currently carrying out series of concerts of Chopin, the composer whose two hundredth anniversary of birth is being celebrated in 2010, in various cities of Japan. In 2010, he played in one concert, 166 solo works of Chopin, including all of the published pieces plus the major posthumous works mostly in written order. The Guinness Book of World Records granted him the World Record in the category ‘Most pieces of music performed by a solo artist in 24 hours’ In recognition of this achievement, the government of Poland awarded him with the "Chopin Passport," presented to 100 artists worldwide who carried out especially remarkable activities related to the works of Chopin in the year of the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth. In 2011, the 20th anniversary of Yokoyama’s debut, he performed all 212 solo works by Chopin at Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall taking 18 hours in a day as a charity concert for “Tohoku region pacific coast earthquake 3.11” His achievement was officially recognized again in the Guinness Book of World Records. This concert was restaged in International Chopin Festival in Duszniki, Poland, and the entire fund raised from this concert was donated to Red Cross for Japan earthquake 3.11 by his