Nelson Freire


Born in Brazil, Nelson Freire began piano studies at the age of three with Nise Obino and Lucia Branco, who had worked with a pupil of Liszt.  He made his first public appearance at age five with Mozart's Sonata in A major, K. 331.  In 1957, after winning the Rio de Janeiro International Piano Competition with his performance of Beethoven's "Emperor" concerto, the president of Brazil presented him with a financial scholarship which allowed him to study with Bruno Seidlhofer, teacher of Friedrich Gulda, in Vienna.  Seven years later, Freire won the Dinu Lipatti Medal in London, as well as first prize at the International Vianna da Motta Competition in Lisbon.

His international career began in 1959 with recitals and concerts in the most important cities in Europe, the United States, South and Central America, Japan, and Israel. He has collaborated with distinguished conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Charles Dutoit, Valery Gergiev, Fabio Luisi, Hans Graf, Eugene Jochum, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Rudolf Kempe (with whom he toured the United States and Germany several times with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), John Nelson, Václav Neumann, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, David Zinman, and Hugh Wolff.

His 2011-2012 season will include performances with the Symphonies of San Francisco (Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2) and Montreal (Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20), as well as the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. (Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2).

As part of the 2010-2011 season, he returned to the Boston Symphony to perform the Schumann Piano Concerto with Maestro Kurt Masur, and will make his debut with the Beethoven Piano Concerto No.4 at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York's Avery Fisher Hall, with Mo. Louis Langrée. In 2008-2009 he performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Baltimore Symphony, the Grieg Piano Concerto with the Boston Symphony, and presented recitals in San Francisco, Vancouver, and New York City, where he to a sold-out house in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with works of Chopin, Brahms, Schumann and Debussy. 

He has been invited to perform as a soloist by such prestigious orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Bayerische Rundfunk, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, Vienna Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, London Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Monte Carlo Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, as well as American Orchestras of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, and Philadelphia.  In 1999, he marked the 150th anniversary of Chopin's death with a triumphant performance of the composer's Concerto No. 2 in Warsaw.

He is invited regularly to perform with the St. Petersburg Symphony, the Prague Spring Festival with the Orchestre National de France, Baltimore, Boston, Montreal, New York, Utah, English Chamber Orchestra (in France and Portugal), and the Orchestra della Svitzerra Italiana.  Recital engagements have included Brussels, Paris, Rome, Munich, Lisbon, Luxembourg, Zurich, and a triumphant return to Toronto after a 17-year absence. European tours have included the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, with Riccardo Chailly, and the Orchestra G. Verdi of Milano. He was also the soloist of the Tonhalle Zurich Orchestra, NHK of Tokyo, and plays regularly in Brazil. 

He has recorded for Sony/CBS, Teldec, DGG, IPAM, and London labels. In 1999, Philips released a CD of Nelson's most coveted performances on their acclaimed series, Great Pianists of the 20th Century, and his recording of Chopin's 24 Préludes on CBS received the "Prix Edison." In October 2001 he signed an exclusive contract with DECCA. His Chopin recording received the most prestigious prizes in 2002: Diapason d'Or, Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, Choc du Monde de la Musique, 10 by Repertoire, Classica.  He also recorded a second CD dedicated to Schumann, which was released worldwide in the fall of 2003. Three of his recent releases on Decca received Grammy nominations in 2006, 2007 and 2011 respectively: Chopin: Études, Op. 10, Barcarolle, Op. 60, Sonata No.2; Brahms, The Piano Concertos (recorded with the Gewandhausorchester and Riccardo Chailly) and Chopin: The Nocturnes. 

He is a recipient of numerous awards, among them the French Victoires de la Musique's "Soloist of the Year 2002" and a special Honorary Award for his lifetime career in January 2005. 

March 2012




Nelson Freire