The New York Times has called Leif Ove Andsnes “a pianist of magisterial elegance, power, and insight.” With his commanding technique and searching interpretations, the celebrated Norwegian pianist has won acclaim worldwide; the Wall Street Journal named him “one of the most gifted musicians of his generation.” Andsnes gives recitals and plays concertos in the world’s leading concert halls and with its foremost orchestras, besides being an active recording artist. An avid chamber musician, he served as co-artistic director of the Risor Festival of Chamber Music for nearly two decades, and was music director of California’s 2012 Ojai Music Festival. He was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame in July 2013.
This fall sees the release of Concerto – A Beethoven Journey, a documentary by award-winning British director and filmmaker Phil Grabsky that chronicles Andsnes’s epic four-season focus on the master composer’s music for piano and orchestra, which took him to 108 cities in 27 countries for more than 230 live performances. Highlights of the coming season also include major European and North American solo recital tours with a program of Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin, and Sibelius, as well as Schumann and Mozart concerto collaborations in the USA with the Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras. In Europe Andsnes will perform with orchestras including the Bergen Philharmonic, Zurich Tonhalle, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra. The pianist also looks forward to touring Brahms’s Three Piano Quartets with his frequent musical partner, Christian Tetzlaff, together with Tabea Zimmermann and Clemens Hagen.
Last season brought the conclusion of “The Beethoven Journey,” perhaps Andsnes’s most ambitious achievement to date. With the Mahler Chamber Orchestra – his fellow traveler since the project’s inception – he led complete Beethoven concerto cycles from the keyboard in high-profile residencies at New York’s Carnegie Hall, as well as in Bonn, Hamburg, Lucerne, Vienna, Paris, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Bodo and London, besides performing Beethoven concertos in Boston’s Celebrity Series and a host of key venues across Europe and Asia, and taking on further Beethoven collaborations with such world-class ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, London Philharmonic, and Munich Philharmonic. In 2013-14, in addition to a wealth of “Beethoven Journey” orchestral engagements, he undertook a 19-city solo recital tour of the U.S., Europe, and Japan, presenting an all-Beethoven program at New York’s Carnegie Hall and Chicago’s Symphony Center, as well as in Princeton, Atlanta, London, Vienna, Berlin, Rome, Tokyo, and more.
The pianist’s partnership with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra was also captured on disc: The Beethoven Journey, their hit recording series for Sony Classical, proved a resounding success. The first volume, featuring Beethoven’s First and Third concertos, was named iTunes’ Best Instrumental Album of 2012 and awarded Belgium’s Prix Caecilia; the second, a coupling of the Second and Fourth, was recognized with BBC Music magazine’s coveted “2015 Recording of the Year Award”; and the third, offering accounts of the Fifth (“Emperor”) and “Choral Fantasy,” was hailed in a five-star review as “performances of arresting maturity, stylistic acumen and utter delight” (Telegraph, UK). Issued together as a boxed set, the series was chosen as one of the “Best of 2014” by the New York Times and Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Andsnes now records exclusively for Sony Classical. His previous discography comprises more than 30 discs for EMI Classics – solo, chamber, and concerto releases, many of them bestsellers – spanning repertoire from the time of Bach to the present day. He has been nominated for eight Grammys and awarded many international prizes, including six Gramophone Awards. His recordings of the music of his compatriot Edvard Grieg have been especially celebrated: the New York Times named Andsnes’s 2004 recording of Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Mariss Jansons and the Berlin Philharmonic a “Best CD of the Year,” the Penguin Guide awarded it a coveted “Rosette,” and both that album and his disc of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces won Gramophone Awards. His recording of Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 9 and 18 was another New York Times “Best of the Year” and Penguin Guide “Rosette” honoree. He won yet another Gramophone Award for Rachmaninov’s Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 with Antonio Pappano and the Berlin Philharmonic. A series of recordings of Schubert’s late sonatas, paired with lieder sung by Ian Bostridge, inspired lavish praise, as did the pianist’s world-premiere recordings of Marc-André Dalbavie’s Piano Concerto and Bent Sorensen’s The Shadows of Silence, both of which were written for him.
Andsnes has received Norway’s distinguished honor, Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. In 2007, he received the prestigious Peer Gynt Prize, awarded by members of parliament to honor prominent Norwegians for their achievements in politics, sports, and culture. He is the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist Award and the Gilmore Artist Award, and, saluting his many achievements, Vanity Fair named Andsnes one of the “Best of the Best” in 2005.
Leif Ove Andsnes was born in Karmoy, Norway in 1970, and studied at the Bergen Music Conservatory under the renowned Czech professor Jirí Hlinka. He has also received invaluable advice from the Belgian piano teacher Jacques de Tiège who, like Hlinka, has greatly influenced his style and philosophy of playing. He currently lives in Bergen and in June 2010 achieved one of his proudest accomplishments to date, becoming a father for the first time. His family expanded in May 2013 with the welcome arrival of twins.