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Zimerman Krystian

rose to fame at an early age when at 18 years, he became the youngest pianist to be awarded 1st Prize in the Chopin Competition. He has since embarked on a world-class career, working with the world’s most prestigious orchestras and giving recitals in the top international concert halls.

Born into a family with a music-making tradition, musicians would meet almost daily in Zimerman’s home to play chamber music, and these performances afforded him an intimate, natural, everyday contact with live music. He undertook his first steps in music under the supervision of his father and then, at the age of seven, started working systematically with Andrzej Jasiński, then a senior lecturer at the Music Academy in Katowice.

He has collaborated with many pre-eminent musicians: chamber partners such as Gidon Kremer, Kyung-Wha Chung and Yehudi Menuhin, and conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, Seiji Ozawa, Riccardo Muti, Lorin Maazel, André Previn, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Mehta, Bernard Haitink, Stanisław Skrowaczewski and Sir Simon Rattle. In 2010 Zimerman performed the Chopin Birthday recital on the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth in the International Piano Series in London. Since 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Witold Lutosławski, Zimerman performed the Piano Concerto, which the composer wrote for him, in a number of cities worldwide including at the Royal Festival Hall in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Since making the decision to transport his own piano for every recital performance, he has alerted audiences to the complexities and capabilities of the instrument. The confidence which is afforded by always performing on his own, thoroughly-familiar instrument, combined with his own piano-building expertise (acquired in Katowice and developed through close co-operation with Steinway in Hamburg) allows him to reduce to an absolute minimum anything which might distract him from purely musical issues.

Zimerman lives with his wife and family in Switzerland where he has spent the greater part of his life, dividing his time between family, concert life and chamber music. He limits himself to 50 concerts per season and pursues a comprehensive approach to the musical profession, organising his own management, studying hall acoustics, the latest sound technology and instrument construction. He has also applied himself to the study of psychology and computer science.

He has developed a similar approach to recording, a process which he controls at each and every stage. During his long collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon his recordings have earned him many of the most prestigious awards. In 1999 he recorded the Chopin Concertos with an orchestra specially formed for this project, the Polish Festival Orchestra, touring Europe and America with these two works to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Chopin’s death. His most recent recording is a disc of chamber music to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz whose music he has championed.

© Harrison Parrott