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Robert Levin

Harvard |

The Julliard School

Pianist Robert Levin has been heard throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia, in recital, as soloist, and in chamber concerts. His solo engagements include the orchestras of Atlanta, BBC, Berlin, Birmingham, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, La Scala, Los Angeles, Montreal, Philadelphia, Toronto, Utah and Vienna on the Steinway with conductors Semyon Bychkov, James Conlon, Bernard Haitink, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Neville Marriner, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Joseph Silverstein. On period pianos he has appeared with the Academy of Ancient Music, La Chambre Philharmonique, the English Baroque Soloists, the Handel & Haydn Society, the London Classical Players, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, and Philharmonia Baroque, with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Christopher Hogwood, Emmanuel Krivine, Sir Charles Mackerras, Nicholas McGegan, and Sir Roger Norrington.  He has performed frequently at such festivals as Sarasota, Oregon Bach, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Bremen, Lockenhaus, and the Mozartwoche in Salzburg. As a chamber musician he has a long association with violist Kim Kashkashian and appears frequently with Steven Isserlis and with his wife, pianist Ya-Fei Chuang, in duo recitals and with orchestra. An artist faculty member at the Sarasota Music Festival since 1979, he was its Artistic Director from 2007 to 2016.  

Robert Levin is renowned for his restoration of the Classical period practice of improvised embellishments and cadenzas; his Mozart and Beethoven performances have been hailed for their active mastery of the Classical musical language. He has recorded for Bridge, DG Archiv, CRI, Decca/Oiseau-Lyre, Deutsche Grammophon, ECM, Hyperion, Klavierfestival Ruhr, Le Palais des Dégustateurs, New York Philomusica, Nonesuch, Philips, and SONY Classical, including the complete Bach concertos with Helmuth Rilling as well as the English Suites and the Well-Tempered Clavier (on five keyboard instruments) for Hänssler’s 172-CD Edition Bachakademie; a Beethoven concerto cycle with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique for Archiv, a Mozart concerto cycle with Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music for Decca/Oiseau-Lyre, and the complete piano music of Dutilleux for ECM. A passionate advocate of new music, Robert Levin has commissioned and premiered many works, including Joshua Fineberg’s Veils (2001), John Harbison’s Second Sonata (2003), Yehudi Wyner’s piano concerto Chiavi in mano (Pulitzer Prize, 2006), Bernard Rands’ Preludes (2007), Thomas Oboe Lee’s Piano Concerto (2007) and Hans Peter Türk’s Träume (2012). Recent recordings include Rands’ Preludes, Impromptu, and Espressione IV (with Ursula Oppens) on Bridge, and the complete Beethoven sonatas and variations for fortepiano and ’cello with Steven Isserlis on Hyperion; the six Bach Partitas (Grand Prix international du Disque) and the complete Schubert trios with Noah Bendix-Balgley and Peter Wiley for Le Palais des Dégustateurs, and the complete Mozart sonatas on Mozart’s Walter piano for ECM.  

Robert Levin studied piano with Louis Martin and composition with Stefan Wolpe in New York. He worked with Nadia Boulanger in Fontainebleau and Paris from age 12-16. Upon his graduation from Harvard he was invited by Rudolf Serkin to head the theory department of the Curtis Institute of Music, later taking up a professorship at the School of the Arts, SUNY Purchase. In 1979 Nadia Boulanger summoned him to direct the Conservatoire américain in Fontainebleau, France, where he taught from 1979 to 1983. From 1986 to 1993 he was professor of piano at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.  President of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he is Dwight P. Robinson, Jr. Research Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University and Visiting Professor at The Juilliard School.

In addition to his performing career, Robert Levin is a noted theorist and Mozart scholar and is the author of a number of articles and essays on Mozart. A member of the Akademie für Mozartforschung, his completions of Mozart fragments are published by Bärenreiter, Breitkopf & Härtel, Carus, Henle, Peters, and Wiener Urtext Edition, and have been recorded and performed throughout the world. Levin’s cadenzas to the Mozart violin concertos were recorded by Gidon Kremer with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Vienna Philharmonic for Deutsche Grammophon and published by Universal-Edition. Henle has issued his cadenzas to the Mozart flute, flute and harp, oboe, horn and bassoon concertos; the Beethoven violin concerto; and the viola concertos of Hoffmeister and Stamitz. His reconstruction of the Symphonie concertante in E-flat major for four winds and orchestra, K.297B, was premièred by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Mozartwoche in Salzburg, and has been performed worldwide. The first of the many recordings of the work, by Philips, won the 1985 Grand Prix International du Disque.

In August 1991 Robert Levin’s completion of the Mozart Requiem was premièred by Helmuth Rilling at the European Music Festival in Stuttgart, Germany, to a standing ovation. His completion of the Mozart Mass in C minor, K. 427, commissioned by Carnegie Hall, was premiered by Rilling in New York in January 2005 and in Europe two months later. Both works have been performed worldwide and are published by Carus-Verlag.