Levin lives Mozart throughout his entire body, and for every second of the score… he plays the music as if he’s writing it himself – for the first time. – Hilary Finch, The Times
Pianist Robert Levin has been heard throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia, in recital, as soloist, and in chamber concerts. He has performed with the orchestras of Berlin, Birmingham, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Montreal, Tokyo and Vienna with such conductors as Bernard Haitink, Sir Neville Marriner, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Joseph Silverstein. On fortepiano he has appeared with the Academy of Ancient Music, Handel and Haydn Society, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Christopher Hogwood, Sir Charles Mackerras, Nicholas McGegan and Sir Roger Norrington. He has performed frequently at such festivals as Sarasota, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Bremen, Locken- haus, Verbier and the Mozartwoche in Salzburg. As a chamber musician, partners include Steven Isserlis, Kim Kashkashian, Ya-Fei Chuang and Hilary Hahn.
Robert Levin is renowned for his restoration of the Classical period practice of improvised embellishments and cadenzas; his Mozart and Beethoven performances have been hailed for their active mastery of the Classical musical language. He has made recordings for DG Archiv, CRI, Decca/Oiseau-Lyre, Deutsche Grammophon Yellow Label, ECM, New York Philomusica, Nonesuch, Philips, and SONY Classical. These include the complete Bach concertos with Helmuth Rilling as well as the English Suites and the Well-Tempered Clavier for Hänssler’s 172-CD Edition Bach-Akademie. Other recordings include a Beethoven concerto cycle with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique for DG Archiv, a Mozart concerto cycle with Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music for Decca Oiseau-Lyre as well as the complete Beethoven cello and piano works for Hyperion with Steven Isserlis, which was named Gramophone Magazine’s ‘Recording of the Month’ in early 2014.
Robert Levin studied piano with Louis Martin and composition with Stefan Wolpe in New York. He worked with Nadia Boulanger in Fontainebleau and Paris while still in high school, afterwards attending Harvard. Upon graduation he was invited by Rudolf Serkin to head the theory department of the Curtis Institute of Music, a post he left after five years to take up a professorship at the School of the Arts, SUNY Purchase, outside of New York City. In 1979 he was Resident Director of the Conservatoire Américain in Fontainebleau, France, at the request of Nadia Boulanger, and taught there from 1979 to 1983. Between 1986 and 1993 he was professor of piano at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. President of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has also been Dwight P. Robinson, Jr. Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. In 2016 he was inducted as Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is currently the inaugural Hogwood Fellow of the Academy of Ancient Music for 2017 and 2018.
In addition to his performing activities, Robert Levin is a noted theorist and Mozart scholar, and is the author of a number of articles and essays on Mozart. His completions of Mozart fragments are published by Bärenreiter, Breitkopf & Härtel, Hänssler, and Peters, and have been recorded and performed throughout the world. Levin’s cadenzas to the Mozart violin concertos have been recorded by Gidon Kremer with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Vienna Philharmonic for Deutsche Grammophon and published by Universal Edition. Henle has also issued his cadenzas to the flute, oboe and horn concertos and will publish his cadenzas to Beethoven’s violin concerto. His reconstruction of the Symphonie Concertante in E-flat major for four winds and orchestra, K. 297B, was premièred by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Mozartwoche in Salzburg, and has subsequently been performed worldwide. The first of four recordings of the work, by Philips, won the 1985 Grand Prix International du Disque. In August 1991 Robert Levin’s completion of Mozart’s Requiem was premièred by Helmuth Rilling at the European Music Festival in Stuttgart to a standing ovation. Published by Hänssler-Verlag, it has been performed worldwide and recorded numerous times. A Carnegie Hall commission to complete Mozart’s Mass in C minor, K. 427 was premiered in 2005.
Recent and future highlights include concerts with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre d’Auvergne, Handel & Haydn Society and New Jersey Symphony, as well as recitals at Leipzig BachFest, Bachwoche Ansbach, Edinburgh International Festival, and his annual appearances at the Salzburg Mozartwoche. He continues his acclaimed collaboration with Steven Isserlis performing the complete Beethoven cello and piano music.
Photo credit: Clive Barda