Menahem Pressler

by Menahem Pressler, Li-Shan Hung, Manami Kawamura & Marlin E. Owen

World renowned pianist, and Artist-in-Residence, Menahem Pressler, discusses his music and distinguished career with Biola’s Li-Shan Hung, Manami Kawamura and Marlin E. Owen.

Menahem Pressler, founding member and pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio, has established himself among the world’s most distinguished and honored musicians, with a career that spans almost six decades.  Now, at 90 years old, he continues to captivate audiences throughout the world as performer and pedagogue, performing solo and chamber music recitals to great critical acclaim while maintaining a dedicated and robust teaching career.

Born in Magdeburg, Germany in 1923, Pressler fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and emigrated to Israel.  Pressler’s world renowned career was launched after he was awarded first prize at the Debussy International Piano Competition in San Francisco in 1946. This was followed by his successful American debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Eugene Ormandy. Since then, Pressler’s extensive tours of North America and Europe have included performances with the orchestras of New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Francisco, London, Paris, Brussels, Oslo, Helsinki and many others.

After nearly a decade of an illustrious and praised solo career, the 1955 Berkshire Music Festival saw Menahem Pressler’s debut as a chamber musician, where he appeared as pianist with the Beaux Arts Trio. This collaboration quickly established Pressler’s reputation as one of the world’s most revered chamber musicians.  With Pressler at the Trio’s helm as the only pianist for nearly 55 years, The New York Times described the Beaux Arts Trio as “in a class by itself” and the Washington Post exclaimed  that “since its founding more than 50 years ago, the Beaux Arts Trio has become the gold standard for trios throughout the world.”  The 2007-2008 season was nothing short of bitter-sweet, as violinist Daniel Hope, cellist Antonio Meneses and Menahem Pressler took their final bows as The Beaux Arts Trio, which marked the end of one of the most celebrated and revered chamber music careers of all time.  What saw the end of a one artistic legacy also witnessed the beginning of another, as Pressler continues to dazzle audiences throughout the world, both as piano soloist and collaborating chamber musician, including performances with the Juilliard, Emerson, American, and Cleveland Quartets, among many others.  Of his recent solo performance in Austria, Die Presse wrote: “he struck a tone that was long believed lost already, a tone we perhaps last heard from Wilhelm Kempff.” His upcoming solo concertizing engagements include performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestra de Paris and the Concertgebow Orchestra, among others.

For nearly 60 years, Menahem Pressler has taught on the piano faculty at the world-renowned Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he currently holds the rank of Distinguished Professor of Music as the Charles Webb Chair.  Equally as illustrious as his performing career, Professor Pressler has been hailed as “Master Pedagogue” and has had prize-winning students in all of the major international piano competitions, including the Queen Elizabeth, Busoni, Rubenstein, Leeds and VanCliburn competitions among many others.  His former students grace the faculties of prestigious schools of music across the world, and have become some of the most prominent and influential artist-teachers today.  In addition to teaching his private students at Indiana University, he continuously presents master classes throughout the world, and continues to serve on the jury of many major international piano competitions.

Among his numerous honors and awards, Pressler has received honorary doctorates from the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Nebraska, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the North Carolina School of the Arts, six Grammy nominations (including one in 2006), lifetime achievement awards from Gramophone magazine and the International Chamber Music Association, Chamber Music America’s Distinguished Service Award, the Gold Medal of Merit from the National Society of Arts and Letters. He has also been awarded the German Critics “Ehrenurkunde” award, and election into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  In 2007 Pressler was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in recognition of a lifetime of performance and leadership in music. In 2005 Pressler received two additional awards of international merit: the German President’s Deutsche Bundesverdienstkreuz (German Cross of Merit) First Class, Germany’s highest honor, and France’s highest cultural honor, the Commandeur in the Order of Arts and Letters award.  His more recent honors and awards include the prestigious Wigmore Medal (2011), the Menuhin Prize given by the Queen of Spain (2012), inductions into the American Classical Music and Gramophone Magazine Halls of Fame (2012), and the Music Teachers National Association Achievement Award.

In addition to recording nearly the entire piano chamber repertoire with the Beaux Arts Trio on the Philips label, Menahem Pressler has compiled over thirty solo recordings, ranging from the works of Bach to Ben Haim.

Li-Shan Hung, Associate Professor of Music

As a winner of the Artists International Li-shan Hung made her New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in February, 2003 to great acclaim, which lead to a return in June 2005. Her performance of Cesar Franck's Prelude, Chorale, and Fugue was sited as "perhaps the finest performance of this piece I've ever heard" by Timothy Gilligan in the New York Concert Review. She has also received high praises from reviews by the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.

Dr. Hung has appeared both as a soloist and a chamber musician internationally. Besides Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall, she has performed in other venues, such as Merkin Hall in New York, Rachmaninoff Hall in Moscow, Shriver Hall Concert Series in Baltimore, Orpheus Classical Music Series in Chicago, Sejong Cultural Arts Center in Seoul, Korea, National Recital Hall in Taipei, as well as other major cities in Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Canada, and the United States. Dr. Hung has performed as a soloist with orchestras such as Taipei Symphony Orchestra, Stockton Symphony, Palo Alto Philharmonic, and Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra. She has collaborated with distinguished conductors and artists including Peter Jaffe and Bin Huang, the winner of the 1994 International Paganini Violin Competition. Dr. Hung was the featured pianist at the Rome Festival in Italy in 2002 and Maud Powell Festival in Illinois in 2003-2007. She has been on the piano faculty at the MasterWorks Festival, sponsored by the Christian Performing Art Fellowship since 2008. In addition, her performances have been broadcast on Television and Radio, including WBAL, WBJC, and WFYI. She was featured on the Korea Times in October, 2007.

A native Taiwanese, Li-shan obtained her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, where she studied with the renowned pianist Ann Schein, who is a pupil of the legendary master Arthur Rubinstein. Among the awards she received include the First Prizes of the Palo Alto Philharmonic Concerto Competition, National Taiwan piano Competition, the Second Prize of the Harrison L. Winter Piano Competition, at Peabody the Annie Wentz Prize in Chamber Music and Accompanying, and the Rose Marie Milholland Award for outstanding accomplishments in piano performance. Upon graduating at Peabody, she was selected to be a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society.

In the summers, Li-shan attended and performed in the musical festivals at Salzburg, Moscow, Orford of Canada, and Aspen, where she had the opportunities to study with distinguished artists, such as Jorg Demus, Imre Rohmann, Grant Johannesen, Sergei Dorensky, and Evgeny Malinin. Her great interest in chamber music also led her to study with the Alban Berg String Quartet in Germany.

Manami Kawamura, Piano, Accompanying Studies, Piano Chamber Music

Manami Kawamura is a graduate of Uenogakuen Junior High and High School Music courses, and College with a B.M. in piano performance. She received the highest honor among the graduating seniors and performed in the 52nd New Professionals Concert Series sponsored by Yomiuri Times in Tokyo. She studied for two years at Biola University, where she received the Outstanding Musician’s Award (1986-87), Outstanding Pianist Award (1985-86), and was chosen to play in the Honors Concerto Concert (1986). She then went to Indiana University, where she received an Assistant Instructorship with full scholarship, and earned her M.M. in piano performance in 1990. Her performances include solo recitals, as well as playing a piano concerto with the Biola Symphony Orchestra, piano duo programs, piano accompanying, and chamber ensemble performances. Ms. Kawamura has been a member of the music faculty of Biola University since 1990, and has given recitals in Japan and the United States. Her piano instructors include Menahem Pressler, Artist-in-Residence at Biola, distinguished professor of Indiana University, and pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio; Ms. Jennie K. Wong, former Piano Area Coordinator at Biola University; and Ms. Hisako Mizuno, former distinguished professor of Uenogakuen.

Marlin E Owen, Associate Professor of Music, Biola Symphony Orchestra Conductor

Marlin Owen of the Biola Conservatory of Music string program, conducts the Biola Symphony Orchestra, the New Music Ensemble and teaches music history. He is a very active performer as a solo cellist, chamber musician, guest conductor and chamber music clinician with performances throughout the U. S., Mexico, Europe, and Taiwan. He studied cello with Robert Jamisen, Peter Farrell, Rafael Druian and Janos Starker, piano with Edward Epple, and guitar with Manuel Lopez Ramos in Mexico City. He conducted the San Diego Civic Youth Orchestras and has an ongoing commitment to train young musicians. An active supporter and performer of 20th C. composers and music of world cultures, he is in great demand as adjudicator for Southern California's major music competitions. Recent musical travels have been to Eastern Europe, Myanmar, Paris, Thailand and Syria.


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