Jonathan Biss, piano
Jonathan Biss is a world-renowned pianist who extends his deep musical and intellectual curiosity from the keyboard to classical music lovers in the concert hall and beyond. In addition to his performance schedule, he has spent eight summers at the Marlboro Music Festival, and has written extensively for prestigious media outlets about his own relationships with the composers with whom he shares a stage. A member of the faculty of his alma mater, the Curtis Institute of Music, since 2010, Biss led the school’s first massive open online course (MOOC) to a virtual classroom of 51,000 students last season.
Recently, Biss performed throughout the United States and Europe, including appearances with the Chicago, Danish National, BBC, Stuttgart Radio, and Finnish Radio symphony orchestras; the New York Philharmonic; the Philharmonia and Minnesota orchestras, and the Los Angeles and Netherlands chamber orchestras. Biss toured Italy and the United States with Mark Padmore and performed with the Belcea Quartet at Wigmore Hall. He also had recitals in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Denver, and at the Aldeburgh and Rheingau festivals and the International Piano Series in London. Additional performances include the UK premiere at the BBC Proms of the Bernard Rands piano concerto commissioned by Biss, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Riccardo Muti, and an appearance with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3.
Biss has embarked on a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas, releasing the first disc in the series in 2011. Biss’ first Amazon Kindle Single, Beethoven’s Shadow, was the first-ever Single written by a classical musician. It spent many weeks on the Kindle Singles bestseller list opposite works by major commercial fiction writers and was the number one music title in the Kindle Store for months. In 2013, Biss partnered with the Curtis Institute of Music and Coursera to offer a MOOC, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. The course relaunched in 2015 on Coursera in a new format, allowing students to watch all the video lessons at once or progress at their own pace. The second part of the course, on additional Beethoven sonatas, was added later.
Biss’ Schumann: Under the Influence project was a 30-concert exploration of the composer’s role in musical history. Biss and several hand-picked collaborators performed Schumann’s work in juxtaposition with the music of Purcell, Beethoven, Schubert, Berg, Janacek, and Timo Andres. As part of the project, Biss recorded Schumann and Dvořák Piano Quintets with the Elias String Quartet and wrote an Amazon Kindle Single on Schumann, A Pianist Under the Influence.
Throughout his career, Biss has been an advocate for new music. Among the works he has commissioned are Lunaire Variations by David Ludwig, Interlude II by Leon Kirchner, Wonderer by Lewis Spratlan, Three Pieces for Piano and a concerto by Bernard Rands, which he premiered last season with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has also premiered piano quintets by Timothy Andres and William Bolcom and is developing a commissioning project based on Beethoven’s piano concerti.
Biss represents the third generation in a family of professional musicians that includes his grandmother Raya Garbousova, one of the first well-known female cellists (for whom Samuel Barber composed his Cello Concerto), and his parents, violinist Miriam Fried and violist/violinist Paul Biss. Growing up surrounded by music, Biss began his piano studies at age six, and his first musical collaborations were with his mother and father. He studied at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart and at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Leon Fleisher. At age 20, Biss made his New York recital debut at the 92nd Street Y’s Tisch Center for the Arts and his New York Philharmonic debut under Kurt Masur.
Biss has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Leonard Bernstein Award presented at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Wolf Trap’s Shouse Debut Artist Award, the Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Award, Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, and the 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award. He was an artist-in-residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and was the first American chosen to participate in the BBC’s New Generation Artist program. For more information about Jonathan Biss, please visit www.jonathanbiss.com.