Krystian Zimerman rose to fame at an early age when he was the youngest pianist to be awarded First Prize in the Chopin Competition at the age of 18. 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 his father’s supervision and then, at the age of seven, started working systematically with Andrzej Jasinski, then a senior lecturer at the conservatoire 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 anniversary of the composer’s birth in the International Piano Series in London as part of the Chopin 200 celebrations. Since 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lutoslawski, Zimerman will be performing the Piano Concerto, which the composer wrote for him, in a number of cities worldwide including at the Royal Festival Hall, London with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Since making the decision to transport his own piano for every 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’s 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, chamber music and, over the last few years, a teaching position at the Music Academy in Basel. 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, with whom he then toured throughout Europe and America, performing 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 Grazyna Bacewicz whose music he has championed. (Source: Harrison Parrott)