Boris Berman

~ Person


Boris Berman (born Moscow, April 3, 1948) is a Russian pianist and pedagogue.

He was a student of Lev Oborin at the Moscow Conservatory. He made his debut in Moscow in 1965. He joined an early music ensemble, at the time the only one in Russia, as a harpsichordist. At the same time he worked with contemporary composers such as Alfred Schnittke and Edison Denisov. He played in the first Russian performances of works by Arnold Schoenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio and György Ligeti. He also was a guest soloist with several orchestras, including the Moscow Philharmonic and the Moscow Chamber orchestras.

In 1973 he was permitted to leave the Soviet Union for Israel. In 1979 he migrated to the United States and has since taught at Boston University, Brandeis University, and Indiana University. He is currently the head of the Piano Department at the Yale School of Music. He was the Founding Director of the Music Spectrum concert series in Israel (1975-84) and of the Yale Music Spectrum series in the USA (1984-1997). In 2005, he was named an Honorary Professor of the Shanghai Conservatory and in 2013, an Honorary Professor of the Royal Danish Conservatory in Copenhagen.

He has appeared in numerous concerts and festivals around the world with artists and groups including Misha Maisky, Heinz Holliger, Aurele Nicolet, Shlomo Mintz, Gyorgy Pauk, Ralph Kirshbaum, Frans Helmerson, Claude Frank, Peter Frankl, Natalia Gutman, Tokyo Quartet, Vermeer Quartet, The Netherland Wind Ensemble, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Gewandhaus Orchestra, The Philharmonia (London), Toronto Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and Royal Scottish Orchestra.

He also regularly conducts master classes throughout the world and has been invited to join panels of jurors at U.S. and international competitions, including in Leeds (UK), Dublin (Ireland), Shanghai, and the Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel-Aviv.

He has released recordings on several record labels, including Philips, Deutsche Gramophon, and Melodia. His releases include:

  • 2 CD release of piano sonatas by Alexander Scriabin (Music and Arts)
  • Recital of Shostakovich piano works (Ottavo recordings), which received the Edison Classic Award in the Netherlands
  • 9 CD release of the complete piano works of Sergei Prokofiev (Chandos); he was the first pianist to record all of Prokofiev's solo piano works
  • Recitals by Debussy, Stravinsky, and Schnittke, chamber music of Janacek, and a Concerto by Stravinsky (with Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Neeme Jarvi (all released by Chandos)
  • Debussy for Children (Ottavo recordings)
  • 2 releases of works for prepared piano by John Cage (Naxos), which was named the Top Recording by the BBC Music Magazine
  • Piano Quintets of Shostakovich and Schnittke with the Vermeer Quartet (Naxos), which was nominated for a Grammy
  • A recording of Scott Joplin's Ragtimes (Ottavo)
  • Sequenza IV for piano as part of the Naxos collection of complete Sequenzas by Luciano Berio
  • Brahms Sonatas with the cellist Clive Greensmith (Biddulph), in which he used a 1867 Bechstein piano

He has also written several works on piano technique and piano recording, including:

  • "Notes from the Pianist's Bench" (Yale University Press) published in 2000
  • "Prokofiev's Piano Sonatas: A Guide for the Listener and the Performer" (Yale University Press) published in 2008
  • A bilingual edition of the scores of Prokofiev's piano sonatas (Shanghai Press) published in 2011
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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1990 Piano Concertos: no. 1 in D-flat, op. 10 / no. 4 in B-flat, op. 53 / no. 5 in G, op. 55 Sergey Prokofiev; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, Boris Berman 1
1990 Complete Piano Music, Volume 2: Sonata no. 7, op. 83 / Visions fugitives, op. 22 / Sarcasms, op. 17 / Tales of an Old Grandmother, op. 31 Sergey Prokofiev; Boris Berman 1
1991 Complete Piano Music, Volume 3: Sonata no. 4, op. 29 / Music for Children, op. 65 / Six Pieces, op. 52 Sergey Prokofiev; Boris Berman 1
1991 Complete Piano Music, Volume 4: Sonata no. 8, op. 84 / Four Pieces, op. 3 / Ten Pieces from Cinderella, op. 97 Sergey Prokofiev; Boris Berman 1
1991 Schnittke: Piano Sonata / Stravinsky: Piano Sonata / Serenade in A / Piano-Rag-Music Alfred Schnittke, Igor Stravinsky; Boris Berman 1
1993 Symphony of Psalms / Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments / Symphony in C Igor Stravinsky; Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Neeme Järvi, Boris Berman 1
1994 Pour le piano / Images / Berceuse héroïque / Élégie / Six épigraphes antiques Claude Debussy; Boris Berman 1
1995 Mládí / Říkadla / Concertino / Capriccio / Pochod modráčků Leoš Janáček; Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Thierry Fischer, Boris Berman 1
1999 Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (1946-48) John Cage; Boris Berman 2
2002 Piano Quintets Dmitry Shostakovich, Alfred Schnittke; Vermeer Quartet, Boris Berman 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1990 The Five Piano Concertos Sergey Prokofiev; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, Boris Berman, Horacio Gutiérrez 2

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