The Kennedy Center

Garrick Ohlsson

Video and Audio

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    Meet the Musician: Garrick Ohlsson on his career as a musician

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    Meet the Musician: Garrick Ohlsson on his favorite composers.

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    Meet the Musician: Garrick Ohlsson on the business of art.

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    Understanding the Music: Dvořák - Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33


Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. Although he has long been regarded as one of the world's leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Mr. Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature. A student of the late Claudio Arrau, Mr. Ohlsson has come to be noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. His concerto repertoire alone is unusually wide and eclectic—ranging from Haydn and Mozart to works of the 21st century—and to date he has at his command some 80 concertos.

In the 2008-09 season, Mr. Ohlsson will appear in North America with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and the National Symphony Orchestra, among others. He performs Prokofiev's Fifth Piano Concerto with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony in San Francisco followed by a west coast tour including Seattle and Los Angeles' Disney Hall. Along with pianist Yoko Nozaki, Mr. Ohlsson will reprise their performances with Mark Morris Dance Group in the critically acclaimed Mozart Dances; and with contralto Ewa Podles, he will embark on a tour of North America to be followed by a winter 2008 release of their live-recorded recital from London's Wigmore Hall. A solo recital project focusing on the piano music of Scriabin and Russian contemporaries which began in San Francisco and San Diego in the spring 2008 will continue through the 08/09 season and includes performances at the 92nd Street Y and London's 02 Arena. In Europe, Mr. Ohlsson performs with the Salzburg Mozarteum and Hugh Wolff, the Halle Orchestra with both Mark Elder and Edward Gardner, and the Deutsche Symphony Berlin.

In the 2007-08 season, Mr. Ohlsson appeared with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Houston, San Francisco, and Toronto, among others. Special projects included performances in Berkeley and Los Angeles with Mark Morris Dance Group and pianist Yoko Nozaki in Mozart Dances; performances with the Russian National Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski in California and at New York's Lincoln Center; and a Florida tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Additionally, he performed with the Warsaw Philharmonic, RTVE Madrid, the MDR Leipzig Symphony Orchestra, and the Sydney Symphony with Vladimir Ashkenazy.

In 2006-07, Mr. Ohlsson opened the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York in a live, nationally televised performance. He also appeared in North America and Canada with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, Montreal, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh, among others. A series of recitals in Anchorage, Boston, Cleveland, Florida, Los Angeles, Ottawa, and San Francisco culminated in three recitals of Beethoven sonatas at Lincoln Center, and a performance of Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto at Carnegie Hall with Orchestra of St. Luke's. In Europe, he performed at the BBC Proms with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, at the Warsaw Chopin Festival, with the Czech Philharmonic, with the BBC Philharmonic, and in recital in Spain and Italy.

During the summer of 2006, Mr. Ohlsson presented the complete cycle of Beethoven piano sonatas in both the Ravinia and Tanglewood festivals, a cycle he performed for the first time in the summer of 2005 at Switzerland's prestigious Verbier Festival.

Mr. Ohlsson is an avid chamber musician and has collaborated with the Cleveland, Emerson, Takács and Tokyo string quartets, among other ensembles. Together with violinist Jorja Fleezanis and cellist Michael Grebanier, he is a founding member of the San Francisco-based FOG Trio.

A prolific recording artist, Mr. Ohlsson can be heard on the Arabesque, RCA Victor Red Seal, Angel, Bridge, BMG, Delos, Hänssler, Nonesuch, Telarc, and Virgin Classics labels. His undertaking of the complete Beethoven sonatas for Bridge Records has already resulted in three discs, the third of which won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance. His most recent project is a 16-disc set of the complete works of Chopin for the Hyperion label, to be released in fall 2008. He is currently recording a series with WQXR in New York in which he guides listeners through each of Beethoven's sonatas, playing excerpts and talking about the pieces. The first 10 sonata sessions are available at

A native of White Plains, N.Y., Mr. Ohlsson began his piano studies at the age of eight. He attended the Westchester Conservatory of Music and at 13 entered The Juilliard School in New York City. His musical development has been influenced in completely different ways by a succession of distinguished teachers, most notably Claudio Arrau, Olga Barabini, Tom Lishman, Sascha Gorodnitzki, Rosina Lhévinne and Irma Wolpe. Although he won First Prizes at the 1966 Busoni Competition in Italy and 1968 Montréal Piano Competition, it was his 1970 triumph at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, where he won the Gold Medal, that brought him worldwide recognition as one of the finest pianists of his generation. Since then he has made nearly a dozen tours of Poland, where he retains immense personal popularity. Mr. Ohlsson was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1994 and received the 1998 University Musical Society Distinguished Artist Award in Ann Arbor, Mich. In February 2008, he won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra) for his Beethoven Sonatas, Vol. 3 (Bridge Records, Inc.). He makes his home in San Francisco.

Garrick Ohlsson made his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra in 1975, and has been a welcome and regular guest ever since, appearing in 30 performances with the NSO.
Garrick Ohlsson