The New York Times calls Leif Ove Andsnes “a pianist of magisterial elegance, power, and insight,” and the Wall Street Journal names him “one of the most gifted musicians of his generation.” With his commanding technique and searching interpretations, the celebrated Norwegian pianist has won acclaim worldwide, playing concertos and recitals in the world’s leading concert halls and with its foremost orchestras, while building an esteemed and extensive discography. An avid chamber musician, he is the founding director of the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, was co-artistic director of the Risør Festival of Chamber Music for nearly two decades, and served as music director of California’s Ojai Music Festival in 2012. He was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame in July 2013, and received honorary doctorates from New York’s Juilliard School and Norway’s University of Bergen in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Andsnes launches his 2018-19 season with the release on Sony Classics of Chopin: Ballades & Nocturnes, his first recording of the composer’s music in more than a decade. After headlining the Bergen Philharmonic’s season-opening concerts with Britten, he turns his focus to Brahms’s First Piano Concerto, which he performs with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra under Edward Gardner and tours with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Herbert Blomstedt in Germany, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony in Italy, and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSB) and Vladimir Jurowski in Asia. The pianist reunites with Jurowski and the RSB for Mozart, whose concertos are also the focus for his returns to the Munich Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, and Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO), with which he tours Germany, France, and Portugal. The tour marks the launch of “Mozart Momentum 1785/86,” a major new multi-season project that sees Andsnes and the MCO explore one of the most creative and seminal periods of the composer’s career, through concert and festival performances on three continents. Showcasing Mozart’s transformative role in the development of the piano concerto, they look forward to presenting a rich portrait of the Classical master at the top of his game.
In recital this season, besides joining baritone Matthias Goerne for Schubert lieder in Paris, Essen, and Barcelona, the pianist debuts a colorful solo program of Schumann, Bartók and Janáček. After dates in Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, Florence, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, this takes him on a North American tour with stops in Boston, San Francisco, La Jolla, Montreal, Philadelphia, Chicago, and at New York’s Carnegie Hall. He then returns to Norway for his fourth summer at the helm of the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival.
A frequent collaborator with the New York Philharmonic, Andsnes was the orchestra’s 2017-18 Artist-in-Residence, giving a solo recital at David Geffen Hall and joining the Philharmonic for Britten’s Piano Concerto, Rachmaninoff’s Fourth, and Debussy’s Fantaisie. All three works figured prominently in his season’s programming with other orchestras, including the Tonhalle Zurich, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Bavarian Radio Symphony, and New World Symphony. In recital, he toured such key European cities as London, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Madrid, Milan, and Amsterdam with a program featuring Sibelius rarities, which were also the subject of the new Billboard best-selling Sony Classical solo album, Sibelius. Andsnes’s summer engagements included a residency at his own Rosendal festival, where guest artists included Matthias Goerne, Anna Prohaska, Bertrand Chamayou, Kirill Gerstein, and the Dover Quartet.
Perhaps the Norwegian pianist’s most ambitious achievement to date is “The Beethoven Journey,” his 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. He led the Mahler Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard in complete Beethoven concerto cycles at high-profile residencies in Bonn, Hamburg, Lucerne, Vienna, Paris, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Bodø, and London, besides collaborating with such leading international ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, London Philharmonic, and Munich Philharmonic. The project was chronicled in the documentary Concerto – A Beethoven Journey (2016) and Andsnes’s partnership with the MCO was captured on the hit Sony Classical three-volume series The Beethoven Journey. The first volume was named iTunes’ Best Instrumental Album of 2012 and awarded Belgium’s Prix Caecilia, the second recognized with BBC Music’s coveted “2015 Recording of the Year Award,” and the complete series chosen as one of the “Best of 2014” by the New York Times.
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 Sørensen’s The Shadows of Silence, both of which were written for him. Besides his solo album Sibelius, the 2017-18 season saw the release of Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring & other works for two pianos four hands. Recorded with Marc-André Hamelin for the Hyperion label, this received sensational reviews and has been hotly tipped for many upcoming awards.
Andsnes has received Norway’s distinguished honor, Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, and 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. In 2004-05, he became the youngest musician (and first Scandinavian) to curate Carnegie Hall’s “Perspectives” series, and in 2015-16 he was the subject of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Artist Portrait Series. 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 Karmøy, 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 is currently an Artistic Adviser for the Prof. Jirí Hlinka Piano Academy in Bergen where he gives an annual masterclass to participating students. Andsnes lives in Bergen with his partner and their three children.