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Biography 2013-2014

Recognized as an artist of passion and integrity, the distinguished American pianist Peter Serkin is one of the most thoughtful and individualistic musicians appearing before the public today. Throughout his career, he has successfully conveyed the essence of five centuries of repertoire and his performances with symphony orchestras, recital appearances, chamber music collaborations and recordings are respected worldwide.

Peter Serkin's rich musical heritage extends back several generations: his grandfather was violinist and composer Adolf Busch and his father pianist Rudolf Serkin. In 1958, at age eleven, he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he was a student of Lee Luvisi, Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Rudolf Serkin. He later continued his studies with Ernst Oster, Marcel Moyse and Karl Ulrich Schnabel. In 1959, Mr. Serkin made his Marlboro Music Festival and New York City debuts with conductor Alexander Schneider and invitations to perform with the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell in Cleveland and Carnegie Hall and with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy in Philadelphia and Carnegie Hall soon followed. He has since performed with the world's major symphony orchestras with such eminent conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado, Simon Rattle, James Levine, Herbert Blomstedt, Christoph Eschenbach, Grant Llewellyn, Rafael Frubeck de Burgos and Robert Spano. Also a dedicated chamber musician, Mr. Serkin has collaborated with Alexander Schneider, Pamela Frank, Yo-Yo Ma, the Budapest, Guarneri and Orion string quartets and TASHI, of which he was a founding member.

An avid exponent of the music of many of the 20th and 21st century's most important composers, Mr. Serkin has been instrumental in bringing to life the music of Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Stravinsky, Wolpe, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Henze, Berio, Wuorinen, Goehr, Knussen and Lieberson to audiences around the world. He has performed many important world premieres which were written specifically for him, in particular, works by Toru Takemitsu, Peter Lieberson, Oliver Knussen, Alexander Goehr and Charles Wuorinen. He recently played world premieres of Charles Wuorinen's Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Boston Symphony and James Levine in Boston, at Carnegie Hall and Tanglewood as well as the fifth piano concerto, “Time Regained,” by Mr. Wuorinen with the Met Opera Orchestra and Levine, also at Carnegie Hall. He premiered a solo work by Elliott Carter commissioned by Carnegie Hall and the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in 2006; and Mr. Wuorinen's Second Piano Quintet, commissioned by the Rockport Music Festival, with the Brentano String Quartet.

Mr. Serkin’s 2013-2014 season began with appearances at the London Proms, as well as major summer music festivals in the United States such as Tanglewood, Ravinia and Bard. He explored diverse solo repertoire including Sweelinck and Nielsen alongside Mozart and Beethoven. He also performed Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Movements for Piano and Orchestra in his BBC Proms debut to great critical acclaim. “Serkin’s playing was breathtaking… the instrumental textures were wonderfully nuanced, and the balance well nigh perfect.” The Guardian

This season, Mr. Serkin tours with the Orion String Quartet in programs that include the piano quintets of Schumann, Dvorák and Schoenberg. With the Boston Symphony, he performs the Brahms B flat Concerto throughout the United States and Beethoven’s first piano concerto in Göteborg. Traversing yet more extraordinary programming, he gives recital performances in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Santa Monica, Detroit and New York City’s 92Y. The latter two presenters have commissioned a new work by Charles Wuorinen.

Peter Serkin's recordings also reflect his distinct musical vision. The Ocean that has no West and no East, released by Koch Records in 2000, features compositions by Webern, Wolpe, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Knussen, Lieberson and Wuorinen. That same year, BMG released his recording of three Beethoven sonatas. Additional recordings include the Brahms violin sonatas with Pamela Frank, Dvorák's Piano Quintet with the Orion String Quartet, quintets by Henze and Brahms with the Guarneri String Quartet, the Bach double and triple concerti with András Schiff and Bruno Canino and Takemitsu's Quotation of Dream with Oliver Knussen and the London Sinfonietta. More recent is a recording of the complete works for solo piano by Arnold Schoenberg on the Arcana label.

Mr. Serkin's recording of the six Mozart concerti composed in 1784 with Alexander Schneider and the English Chamber Orchestra was nominated for a Grammy and received the prestigious Deutsche Schallplatten as well as "Best Recording of the Year" by Stereo Review magazine. Other Grammy-nominated recordings include Olivier Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jesus and Quartet for the End of Time on BMG and a solo recording of works by Stravinsky, Wolpe and Lieberson for New World Records.

Mr. Serkin currently teaches at Bard College Conservatory of Music and the Longy School of Music. He resides in Massachusetts with his wife, Regina, and is the father of five children.


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