STEPHEN KOVACEVICH is one of the most searching interpreters, never afraid to take both technical and musical risks in order to achieve maximum expressive impact. As a pianist he has won unsurpassed admiration for his playing, none more than from Leopold Stokowski, who wrote: “You do with your feet what I try to do with my Philadelphia Orchestra.”
Born in Los Angeles, Stephen Kovacevich laid the foundation for his career as concert pianist at the age of eleven. After moving to England to study with Dame Myra Hess, Stephen made his European debut at Wigmore Hall in 1961. Since then he has appeared with many of the world’s nest orchestras and conductors, including Hans Graf, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Masur, Simon Rattle, Georg Solti, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. In addition, he has forged many longstanding professional relationships, most notably with Colin Davis, with whom he made numerous outstanding recordings, including the legendary Bartók Piano Concerto No. 2 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Recent and upcoming recital highlights include duo performances with Martha Argerich at Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles and the Philharmonie de Paris, and recitals at the Mariinsky International Piano Festival (by invitation of Valery Gergiev), the prestigious Phillips Collection in Washington, the Flagey Piano Days Festival in Brussels, the Singapore International Piano Festival, the renowned Pyeong Chang Great Mountains Festival in South Korea (with Kyung-Wha Chung), the Beijing National Centre for Performing Arts, an extensive tour of the Far East, and recitals in Paris, Berlin, Boston, Zagreb, Dublin, and Cardiff, alongside two live BBC Radio 3 broadcasts from St. George’s Hall, Bristol, and Wigmore Hall.
His recent and upcoming concerto highlights include performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Mirga Gražinyte ̇-Tyla) and the Orquestra Camera Musicae, Barcelona in 2017, a triumphant return to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (David Zinman), Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (Sylvain Cambreling), Malaysian Philharmonic (Jacek Kaspszyk), Orchestre de chambre de Paris (John Nelson), and Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Vladimir Ashkenazy). Stephen recently performed to a sell-out audience for his recital at the International Piano Series at the Queen Elisabeth Hall in London. In addition, he is a regular soloist at the Verbier and Lugano festivals.
Stephen is a committed chamber musician who has collaborated with Jacqueline du Pré, Martha Agerich, Steven Isserlis, Nicola Benedetti, Nigel Kennedy, Lynn Harrell, Gautier Capuçon, Renaud Capuçon, Kyung-Wha Chung, Truls Mørk, Emmanuel Pahud, Anna Larsson, Alina Ibragimova, Philippe Graffin, Joseph Suk, and the Amadeus, Belcea, and Cleveland Quartets.
Stephen Kovacevich has enjoyed an illustrious long-term relationship with recording companies Philips and EMI. To celebrate his 75th birthday, Decca has released a Limited Edition 25-CD box set of his entire recorded legacy for Philips. In 2008 Stephen Kovacevich recorded Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations exactly 40 years after his first recording of the work. This Onyx recording won him the 2009 Classic FM Gramophone Editor’s Choice Award and the Top Choice by Gramophone Magazine in September 2015, to quote: “his seasoned yet fearless mastery reveals something new with each hearing.”