BRIAN GANZ IS AVAILABLE FOR ADVANCE INTERVIEW.
Media Contact: Marc Apter, 301-904-3690, email@example.com
Pianist Brian Ganz Continues “Extreme Chopin” Quest
May Become the First Pianist to Perform Every Note Composer Wrote
Nearing the 3/4 mark, February 18 Concert Focuses on Chopin as “A Young Genius”
North Bethesda, MD (October 2016) — As Pianist Brian Ganz moves into the second half of his “Extreme Chopin” quest, he is set to perform both world-famous and little-known works of Chopin — including an early composition written at 11 years of age — in an all-Chopin recital on February 18, 2017. Ganz began his “Extreme Chopin” quest in January 2011 at a sold-out recitalin partnership with the National Philharmonic at The Music Center at Strathmore. Ganz has since maintained a packed concert schedule, that may result in his being the only living pianist to perform Chopin’s entire oeuvre — roughly 250 works. “As far as I know, Brian is the first musician to attempt to perform all the works of Chopin,” said Piotr Gajewski, National Philharmonic music director. “He is the perfect pianist to take up this challenge—not only because of his great love for the composer, but also because of his intense connection with his audience,” Gajewski said. Witness musical history in the making at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 18th, 2017 at The Music Center at Strathmore. Children ages seven to 17 are admitted free. Parking is free. For more information or to purchase tickets ($28-$88) visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301-581-5100.
At the February 18 concert, Ganz will explore the theme of “Chopin: A Young Genius.” With a total of 22 pieces (with one intermission), the program showcases a wide variety of Chopin’s musical output: nocturnes, études, mazurkas, polonaises, and more. Perhaps most illuminating are the two early Polonaises, written when Chopin was only 11 and 14 years old. As Ganz notes, “These early pieces, juxtaposed with Chopin’s more mature works, perfectly showcase what I call ‘musical gardening.’ It’s a term I like to use to help us understand and appreciate the maturation of a composer. In this instance, we can quite clearly find ‘the seeds’ of Chopin’s musical genius in the Polonaise in A-flat major, written when Chopin was just a child. To continue the metaphor, I'll demonstrate the ‘full flowering’ of his genius with the first polonaise he chose to publish, the C-sharp minor, Op. 26, No. 1. I'll do some musical gardening with mazurkas as well.”
The evening’s program begins with three Nocturnes, Op. 9. These pieces are generally believed to have transformed the nocturne genre from polite background music for social gatherings into a serious art form. Even the most casual classical music listener will recognize Op. 9, No. 2, as it’s one of those pieces that are omnipresent in pop culture (included in the soundtrack to movies like Saturday Night Fever, Blue Lagoon, and Bad Santa). Ganz then gives us a glimpse of the early works of Chopin with two Polonaises (followed by the mature one from Op. 26) and the Variations on a German Air (“Der Schweizerbub”), a charming piece that is almost entirely neglected. Most of these early pieces were published posthumously by Chopin’s friend Julian Fontana, contrary to Chopin's deathbed wish that all his remaining manuscripts be burnt. These seldom performed works offer a window into the workings of Chopin as a budding composer.
The second half of the program begins with three Mazurkas, a Polish country dance that was a recurring comfort to the composer, and finally closes with one of his first masterpieces, the set of twelve Études, Op. 10. The Études, dedicated to Franz Liszt, were widely considered a breakout moment in Chopin’s career. The collection was published in 1833, when Chopin was only 23. “No. 3 in E Major is perhaps the most beloved of the set,” said Ganz, “but all are remarkable for their stunning technical brilliance, originality, and musical range. There’s no finer way to finish the concert than with Chopin’s No. 12. It’s a ferociously beautiful piece, famously referred to as the ‘Revolutionary Etude’ since Chopin supposedly composed it after hearing Russians had invaded his homeland.”
In 2010, Ganz visited Poland, invited by the renowned conductor Miroslaw Blaszczyk to play with the Filharmonia Slaska and Filharmonia Pomorska. Visiting Chopin’s home country affected Ganz profoundly. “Chopin is Poland’s national treasure. His face was pictured everywhere, sometimes with no name under it and no caption of any kind. It is almost as if he is the air people breathe. This was profoundly satisfying to me, because he has always been the air I breathe,” Ganz said. “I visited the church where his heart lies in Warsaw. I visited the monument where outside concerts take place under a graceful, sweeping statue of him. I took a taxi to his birthplace in Zelazowa Wola. The whole experience was a pilgrimage for me.”
Ganz may be the first to perform all Chopin’s works, but says, “the important thing is not whether I’m the first to do this. I’m excited to share works with Chopin lovers that they may never have heard before. There are so many beloved works of great beauty and emotional power, but there are also quite a few buried treasures that deserve to be heard.”
This is also a personal artistic endeavor for Brian Ganz. “I clearly remember, as a young pianist, having a very intense connection to Chopin. I would even dream about the scores I had not yet seen,” said Ganz. “I’ll never forget the day I bought the score for his Études at the old Harmony Hut Records at Columbia Mall. That store is long gone now, but my fascination with Chopin remains.”
“There isn’t much about Chopin that Brian Ganz doesn’t know,” The Washington Post has written. “The pianist has explored the nocturnes, the etudes, the sonatas and concertos and the rest in concerts, master classes and recordings for years now. His delight and wonder in this music seems to grow, apparently without bounds, as time goes on.”
Widely regarded as one of the leading pianists of his generation, Ganz has appeared as soloist with such orchestras as the St. Louis Symphony, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony, the National Philharmonic, the National Symphony and the City of London Sinfonia, and has performed with such conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Mstislav Rostropovich and Piotr Gajewski. The Washington Post has written: “One comes away from a recital by pianist Brian Ganz not only exhilarated by the power of the performance but also moved by his search for artistic truth.”
For many years Mr. Ganz has made it his mission to join vivid music making with warmth and intimacy onstage to produce a new kind of listening experience, in which great works come to life with authentic emotional power. As one of Belgium's leading newspapers, La Libre Belgique, put it, "We don't have the words to speak of this fabulous musician who lives music with a generous urgency and brings his public into a state of intense joy."
In January 2011 Mr. Ganz began a multi-year project in partnership with the National Philharmonic in which he will perform the complete works of Chopin at the Music Center at Strathmore outside of Washington D.C.. After the inaugural recital, The Washington Post wrote: "Brian Ganz was masterly in his first installment of the complete works [of Chopin]."
Mr. Ganz is on the piano faculty of St. Mary's College of Maryland, where he is artist-in-residence, and is also a member of the piano faculty of the Peabody Conservatory. He is the artist-editor of the Schirmer Performance Edition of Chopin’s Preludes (2005).
Photo Cut Line: Brian Ganz plays world-renowned and seldom-heard works of Chopin on February 18, 2016 at Strathmore. (photo credit: Jay Mallin).
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