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Pianist and musicologist Ralph van Raat (1978) studied the piano with Prof. Ton Hartsuiker and Prof. Willem Brons at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and Musicology at the University of Amsterdam. During his piano studies, which he concluded “Cum Laude" (With Distinction) in 2002, Van Raat was admitted to “The Provision for Outstanding Musicians”, a special training course offered alongside the regular curriculum. He also concluded his musicology studies with the mention "Cum Laude" in 2003. As a part of the Advanced Programme of the Conservatory of Amsterdam, and with help of the Dutch cultural trust ‘Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds’, Van Raat also studied with Claude Helffer in Paris, with Ursula Oppens at Chicago’s Northwestern University, with Liisa Pohjola in Finland and with Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the Musikhochschule in Cologne.
Van Raat has won the Second Prize and Donemus-Prize (for Contemporary Music) of the Princess Christina Competition (1995); the Stipend-Prize Darmstadt during the “Internationale Ferienkurse fur Neue Musik” in Darmstadt (Germany, 1998); First Prize of the International Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition (1999); the Philip Morris Arts Award (2003); the Elisabeth Everts Prize (2005); the international Borletti-Buitoni Fellowship (2005); VSCD Classical Music Prize (2005); the Fortis MeesPierson Award of the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam (2006) and the Prijs Klassiek ('Classics Prize') of the Dutch radio and television broadcaster NTR (2010).
Van Raat appears as a recitalist in The Netherlands and abroad, in Europe, the Middle East and Asia as well as the United States. Besides the traditional classical repertoire, he takes special interest in the performance of contemporary classical music. Many of his concerts have been broadcasted by Dutch as well as foreign radio and television networks. He was given his own radio series about contemporary classical music for the Dutch national broadcasting company, and his own concert series by a.o. the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam and De Doelen in Rotterdam.
Van Raat also performs very regularly as a soloist with orchestras including London Sinfonietta, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Frankfurt, the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra and the Dortmunder Philharmoniker. He worked closely with conductors such as Valery Gergiev, JoAnn Falletta, David Robertson, Stefan Asbury, Michel Tabachnik and Edo de Waart.
He played as a soloist at important festivals such as at the symphonic opening concert of the Gergiev Festival, the BBC Proms, the Festival International de Musique de Besançon, the Holland Festival, the Time of Music festival in Viitasaari, Finland, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in the UK, the Berliner Festspiele and the Tanglewood Summer Festival in the United States.
Since December 2006, Ralph has an exclusive contract with the international record label Naxos. His first recording for Naxos with the complete piano works by John Adams received top ratings in several magazines, such as Chicago Time Out (6/6 stars), Le Monde de la Musique (4/4 stars) and monthly magazine Luister (10/10 score). In Gramophone, it was one of the highlighted CD’s of the month. His second CD, with Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated, was labelled a Benchmark CD in BBC Music Magazine, and Highly Recommended by Gramophone. In December 2010, Van Raat’s CD with Hans Otte: Das Buch der Klänge (The Book of Sounds) was chosen, within a month after its release, as CD of the Week by the Dutch national radio. Van Raat’s recording with Arvo Pärt’s piano music received a 5/5 star rating in BBC Music Magazine.
The Rzewski recording, plus those of the complete piano works by John Adams, Gavin Bryars and Sir John Tavener have all been bestsellers, having ranked among the Top 20 of bestselling Naxos albums worldwide. This has resulted in the publication of a special dedicated Artist Portrait CD-box (in 2009), in which the complete recordings for Naxos until 2009 have been included.
Many composers have dedicated their piano compositions and piano concertos to Van Raat. He has worked closely with many composers on the interpretation of their piano works, such as with John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Gavin Bryars, Jonathan Harvey, Tan Dun, György Kurtág, Magnus Lindberg, Arvo Pärt, Frederic Rzewski and Sir John Tavener.
Van Raat teaches contemporary piano music interpretation at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. He regularly gives masterclasses, lectures and workshops also, such as at the conservatories of Tirana, Nizhny Novgorod, Kiev, the Ligeti Academy of the ASKO/Schönberg Ensemble, and for many foundations and universities.
As from 2003, Van Raat has been named a Steinway Artist by the Steinway piano company, joining an exquisite circle of renowned artists such as Vladimir Horowitz, Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel, Lang Lang and Keith Jarrett. He records exclusively on Steinway pianos and uses the Steinway piano as his preferred piano for world wide performances.