Pianist NELSON FREIRE, born in Brazil in 1944, began piano studies at the age of three with the teachers Nise Obino and Lucia Branco, who had previously studied with a pupil of Liszt. He made his first public appearance at the age of five with the Mozart Sonata in A, K. 331. In 1957, after winning a grant at the Rio de Janeiro International Piano Competition with his performance of Beethoven’s “Emperor”Concerto, he went to Vienna to study with Bruno Seidlhofer, teacher of Friedrich Gulda. Seven years later, he was awarded the Dinu Lipatti Medal in London and the first prize at the International Vianna da Motta Competition in Lisbon.
Freire’s international career began in 1959 and included performances in Europe, the United States, Central and South America, Japan, and Israel. He has collaborated with distinguished conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Riccardo Chailly, Charles Dutoit, Valery Gergiev, Eugen Jochum, Fabio Luisi, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Rudolf Kempe (tours in the United States and Germany with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), Vaclav Neumann, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, Ingo Metzmacher, Yuri Temirkanov, and Myung-Whun Chung.
He has been invited to perform with prestigious orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Munich Philharmonic, the Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Deutsches Symphony Orchester, the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Danish Radio Symphony, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, the Vienna Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the BBC Scottish Symphony, the BBC Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic, the Czech Philharmonic, the Seoul Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France, the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestre de Toulouse, the Radio France Philharmonic, and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; as well as the American orchestras of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, and Philadelphia. He toured Japan in 2003, Brazil and Argentina in 2004, and North America in 2005 with Argentinean pianist Martha Argerich.
Freire has recorded for the Sony/CBS, Teldec, DG, IPAM, and Decca labels. The acclaimed Philips series Great Pianists of the 20th Century included a number of Freire’s performances, and his recording of Chopin’s 24 Préludes for CBS received the “Prix Edison.” As an exclusive Decca Artist, Freire has recorded the Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms Piano Concertos with the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig under Riccardo Chailly, as well as an album of Beethoven Sonatas. These recordings were met with great critical acclaim.
In March 2007, Freire was appointed Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. In 2002, he was nominated as the “Soloist of the Year” by the French Victoires de la Musique and received a special Honorary Award for his lifetime career in January 2005. His Chopin recording was nominated for a Grammy in 2006, and his recording of the Brahms Concertos with Riccardo Chailly was nominated for a Grammy in 2007, as well as being named “Record of the Year” and winner of the Concerto Categoryby Gramophone in 2007.