Jonathan Biss

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Jonathan Biss (born September 18, 1980) is an American pianist, teacher, and writer based in New York City. Biss was born into a family of musicians. His paternal grandmother was one of the first well-known female cellists, the Russian cellist Raya Garbousova, for whom Samuel Barber wrote his cello concerto. His parents, Miriam Fried and Paul Biss, are both violinists. After studying at Indiana University, where both of his parents teach, Biss entered the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of 17 to study with Leon Fleisher. Interviewed by the New York Times in 2011 in the run-up to Biss' Carnegie Hall debut recital, Leon Fleisher said of his pupil: His ability and interest go for things of transcendence and sublimeness. That made a great impression on me. He took a very healthy road that started with chamber music, both with his mother and then more extensively at places like Ravinia and Marlboro, and he got to be known by the elders in the profession as somebody to look out for. Biss made his New York recital debut in 2000 at the 92nd Street Y. In early 2001, he performed with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Kurt Masur. His European career was launched in 2002 when he became the first American to be selected as a BBC New Generation Artist, winning a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award the following year. He made his recital debut at Carnegie Hall in January 2011. He has appeared with the foremost orchestras in the United States including the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics; the Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco Symphonies, and the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras. Biss is a frequent guest soloist in Europe where he has appeared with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Staatskapelle Dresden, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. An enthusiastic performer of chamber music, Biss has appeared with renowned artists such as Mitsuko Uchida, Leon Fleischer, Richard Goode,Midori, and Kim Kashkashian. In 2010, Biss was appointed to the piano faculty as Neubauer Family Chair at his alma mater Curtis Institute. As part of his teaching career, Jonathan Biss became the first classical musician to partner with Coursera. Together they created Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, a free video course on several of Beethoven's most famous sonatas. The course attracted more than 32,000 students. Throughout his career, Biss has been particularly noted for his immersive focus on single composers. In 2011, on Beethoven's birthday, he released the eBook Beethoven's Shadow, a 19,000 word meditation on the art of performing Beethoven's piano sonatas. Biss was the first classical musician to be commissioned to write a Kindle eBook. Shortly after in January 2012, the record label Onyx released the first of Jonathan Biss’ recordings of the complete Beethoven Sonatas. The disc was the first in a series of nine discs to be released over as many years. To date, four albums have been recorded. Biss dedicated his 2012-2013 season to Robert Schumann, declaring himself to be "a fanatic for every note Schumann wrote." The project was entitled "Schumann: Under the Influence" and explored Schumann's influences and his legacy. Biss performed a series of concerts internationally with pieces by Schumann's predecessors such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Purcell, and composers who have been influences by his music such as Leoš Janáček, Alban Berg and contemporary composers György Kurtág and Timo Andres. As part of the project, Biss wrote a Kindle Single eBook entitled A Pianist Under the Influence. The work explained Biss's lifelong, intense, multi-layered relationship with the composer's music and was excerpted on Slate. Biss also released an album of Schumann and Dvořák with Elias String Quartet.