Recognized as an artist of passion and integrity, American pianist PETER SERKIN is one of the most thoughtful and individualistic musicians appearing before the public today. Throughout his career he has successfully conveyed the essence of five centuries of repertoire, and his performances with symphony orchestras, recital appearances, chamber music collaborations, and recordings are respected worldwide.
Serkin’s rich musical heritage extends back several generations: his grandfather was violinist and composer Adolf Busch, and his father was pianist Rudolf Serkin. In 1958, at age eleven, he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he was a student of Lee Luvisi, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, and Rudolf Serkin. He later continued his studies with Ernst Oster, Marcel Moyse, and Karl Ulrich Schnabel. In 1959, Serkin made his Marlboro Music Festival and New York City debuts with conductor Alexander Schneider and invitations to perform with the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell in Cleveland and at Carnegie Hall and with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall soon followed. He has since performed with the world’s major symphony orchestras and such eminent conductors as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Herbert Blomstedt, Pierre Boulez, Christoph Eschenbach, James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Simon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Also a dedicated chamber musician, Serkin has collaborated with Alexander Schneider, Pamela Frank, Yo-Yo Ma; the Budapest, Guarneri, and Orion string quartets; and TASHI, of which he was a founding member.
An avid proponent of the music of many of the 20th and 21st century’s most distinguished composers, Serkin has been instrumental in bringing the music of Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Stravinsky, Wolpe, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Henze, Berio, Wuorinen, Goehr, Knussen, and Lieberson, among others, to audiences around the world. He has performed many important world premieres, in particular numerous works by Toru Takemitsu, Peter Lieberson, Oliver Knussen, and Alexander Goehr, all of which were written for him. Most recently, Serkin played the world premieres of Charles Wuorinen’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Boston Symphony under the baton of James Levine in Boston, at Carnegie Hall, and at Tanglewood; a solo work by Elliott Carter commissioned by Carnegie Hall and the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival; and another work by Wuorinen for piano and orchestra with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, also commissioned by Carnegie Hall.
Highlights of Serkin’s recent and upcoming concert appearances include performances with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, and the Boston, San Francisco, Detroit, St. Louis, Toronto, and Atlanta symphonies; recitals in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, and New York’s 92nd Street Y; performances with the original members of TASHI in Boston, Portland (OR), Princeton, and Town Hall in New York City; and summer festival appearances at Ravinia, Aspen, Ojai, Caramoor, Tanglewood, Blossom, Saratoga, and the Mann Center with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Internationally, Serkin returned to Japan in the fall of 2007 to play recitals featuring the works of Toru Takemitsu and Bach in honor of the 10th anniversary of Takemitsu’s death. During the 2007/08 season, he appears with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester, and the Bamberg Symphony.
Serkin’s recordings also reflect his distinctive musical vision. The Ocean that has no West and no East, released by Koch Records in 2000, features compositions by Webern, Wolpe, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Knussen, Lieberson, and Wuorinen. That same year, BMG released his recording of three Beethoven sonatas. Additional recordings include the Brahms violin sonatas with Pamela Frank, Dvorák’s Piano Quintet with the Orion String Quartet, quintets by Henze and Brahms with the Guarneri String Quartet, the Bach double and triple concertos with András Schiff and Bruno Canino, and Takemitsu’s Quotation of Dream with Oliver Knussen and the London Sinfonietta. His most recent recording is the complete works for solo piano by Arnold Schoenberg for Arcana.
Serkin’s recording of the six Mozart concertos composed in 1784 with Alexander Schneider and the English Chamber Orchestra was nominated for a Grammy and received the prestigious Deutsche Schallplatten Prize as well as the “Best Recording of the Year” designation by Stereo Review magazine. Other Grammy-nominated recordings include Olivier Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jesus and Quartet for the End of Time on BMG and a recording of solo works by Stravinsky, Wolpe, and Lieberson for New World Records.
In May 2001, Peter Serkin was the recipient of an Honorary Doctoral Degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He was also the first pianist to receive the Premio Internazionale Musicale Chigiana in recognition of his outstanding artistic achievement. Serkin resides in Massachusetts with his wife, Regina, and is the father of five children.