In the more than 40 years performing on the concert stage, American pianist Murray Perahia has become one of the most sought-after and cherished pianists of our time, working with all of the major international music centers and every leading orchestra. He is the Principal Guest Conductor of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, with whom he has toured as conductor and pianist throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and Southeast Asia.
Born in New York, Mr Perahia started playing piano at the age of four and later attended Mannes College where he majored in conducting and composition. His summers were spent at the Marlboro Festival, where he collaborated with such musicians as Rudolf Serkin, Pablo Casals, and the members of the Budapest String Quartet. During this time, he also studied with Mieczysław Horszowski. In subsequent years, he developed a close friendship with Vladimir Horowitz, whose perspective and personality were an enduring inspiration.
In 1972, Mr Perahia won the Leeds International Piano Competition, and in 1973 he gave his first concert at the Aldeburgh Festival, where he worked closely with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, accompanying the latter in many lieder recitals. Mr Perahia was co-artistic director of the Festival from 1981 to 1989.
In recent seasons Mr Perahia toured with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, play-conducting all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos.
Mr Perahia has a wide and varied discography. In October 2016, he released a highly anticipated recording of Bach French Suites, his first album on the label Deutsche Grammophon. Sony Classical has issued a special boxed set edition of all his recordings including several DVDs entitled The First 40 Years. His recording of Brahms Handel Variations, which won the Grammy Award in 2011, was described as “one of the most rewarding Brahms recitals currently available”. Some of his previous solo recordings feature a 5-CD boxed set of his Chopin recordings, Bach’s Partitas Nos. 1, 5, and 6 and Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, opp. 14, 26, and 28. He is the recipient of two Grammy Awards for his recordings of Chopin’s complete Etudes and Bach’s English Suites Nos. 1, 3, and 6, and several Gramophone Awards including the inaugural Piano Award in 2012.
Recently, Mr Perahia embarked on an ambitious project to edit the complete Beethoven Sonatas for the Henle Urtext Edition. He also produced and edited numerous hours of recordings of recently-discovered master classes by the legendary pianist Alfred Cortot, which resulted in the highly acclaimed Sony CD release Alfred Cortot: The Master Classes.
Mr Perahia is an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, and he holds honorary doctorates from the Juilliard School, Oxford University, the Royal College of Music, Leeds University, and Duke University. In 2004, he was awarded an honorary “Knight Commander of the British Empire” by Her Majesty The Queen, in recognition of his outstanding service to music.