In partnership with the University of Maryland, Phillips Music will celebrate the music of pianist and Leading International Composer, Fazıl Say.
Fazıl Say is not only a virtuosic pianist but also a prolific composer. Say had his first piano lessons from Mithat Fenmen, who asked him to improvise on themes from his daily life in addition to his essential piano exercises. This creative process formed the immense improvisatory talent and the aesthetic outlook that make Say the pianist and composer he is today. Say fine-tuned his skills as a classical pianist with David Levine, first at the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf and later in Berlin. His blend of refinement (in Bach, Haydn, and Mozart) and virtuoso brilliance (in Liszt, Mussorgsky, and Beethoven) helped him win the Young Concert Artists international competition in New York in 1994. Since then he has played with renowned American and European orchestras and numerous leading conductors, building a repertoire ranging from the Viennese Classics and the Romantics to contemporary music. Fazıl Say’s interests include improvisation, jazz, and a passion for Mozart, all of which are reflected in his compositions. So, too, is his interest in Turkish folklore and literature. His output ranges from large-scale orchestral works (including four symphonies and several concertos), as well as a wide variety of music for chamber ensemble and large-scale vocal works. Say has been commissioned to compose works for, among others, the Salzburg Festival, West German Radio (WDR), the Vienna Konzerthaus, and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival.
Performers for this concert include University of Maryland School of Music faculty and students.
In partnership with the University of Maryland.
FAZIL SAY (b. 1970)
Cleopatra for Solo Violin, Op. 34
performed by Laura Colgate
Space Jump for Piano Trio, Op. 46
performed by Kei Sugayama, violin, Molly Jones, cello, and Andrew Welch, piano
String Quartet “Divorce,” Op. 29
performed by the Left Bank Quartet
Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 42
performed by James Stern, violin, and Fazıl Say, piano
Alevi Dedeler rakı masasında (Alevi fathers at the rakı table) for Wind Quintet, Op. 35
performed by Wavelength Winds
Please note that this concert will be held at The Phillips Collection in Gallery 116.
About the Composer
With his extraordinary pianistic talents, Fazıl Say has been touching audiences and critics alike for more than 25 years, in a way that has become rare in the increasingly materialistic and elaborately organised classical music world. Concerts with Say are something different. They are more direct, open, and exciting; in short, they go straight to the heart. Which is exactly what the composer Aribert Reimann thought in 1986 when, during a visit to Ankara, had the opportunity, more or less by chance, to appreciate the playing of the then 16 year old pianist. He immediately asked the American pianist David Levine, who was accompanying him on the trip, to come to the city’s conservatory, using the now much-quoted words: “You absolutely must hear him, this boy plays like a devil.”
Say had his first piano lessons with Mithat Fenmen, who had himself studied with Alfred Cortot in Paris. Perhaps sensing just how talented his pupil was, Fenmen asked the boy to improvise every day on themes to do with his daily life before going on to complete his essential piano exercises and studies. This contact with free creative processes and forms is seen as the source of the immense improvisatory talent and the aesthetic outlook that make Say the pianist and composer he is today. He has been commissioned to write music for, among others, the Salzburg Festival, WDR, Dortmund Konzerthaus, and Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern festivals. His work includes compositions for solo keyboard, chamber music, as well as solo concertos and large-scale orchestral works.
From 1987 onwards, Say fine-tuned his skills as a classical pianist with David Levine, first at the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf and later in Berlin. In addition, he regularly attended master classes with Menahem Pressler. His outstanding technique very quickly enabled him to master the so-called warhorses of repertoire with masterful ease. It is precisely this blend of refinement (in Bach, Haydn, and Mozart) and virtuoso brilliance in the works of Liszt, Mussorgsky, and Beethoven that gained him victory at the New York Young Concert Artists international competition in 1994. Since then he has played with all of the renowned American and European orchestras, including numerous leading conductors, building up a multifaceted repertoire ranging from Bach, through the Viennese Classics and the Romantics, right up to contemporary music, including his own piano compositions.
Guest appearances have taken Say to countless countries on all five continents; Le Figaro called him “a genius.” He also performs chamber music regularly: for many years he was part of a fantastic duo with the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Other notable collaborators include Maxim Vengerov, the Minetti Quartet, Nicolas Altstaedt, and Marianne Crebassa.
From 2005-10, he was Artist in Residence at the Dortmund Konzerthaus; during the 2010/2011 season he held the same position at the Berlin Konzerthaus. Say was also a focal point of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in the summer of 2011. There have been further residencies and Say festivals in Paris, Tokyo, Meran, Hamburg, and Istanbul. During the 2012/2013 season Say was the Artist in Residence at the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt am Main and at the Rheingau Musik Festival 2013, where he was awarded the Rheingau Musik Preis. In April 2015, Say gave a successful concert with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall that was followed by a tour with concerts all over Europe. In 2014 he was the Artist in Residence at the Bodenseefestival, where he played 14 concerts. During their 2015/2016 season the Alte Oper Frankfurt and the Zürcher Kammerorchester invited him to be their Artist in Residence. Say’s current residency is with the Festival der Nationen in Bad Wörishofen.
In December 2016, Say was awarded the International Beethoven Prize for Human Rights, Peace, Freedom, Poverty Reduction, and Inclusion, in Bonn. In the autumn of 2017, he was awarded the Music Prize of the city of Duisburg.
His recordings of works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Gershwin, and Stravinsky have been highly praised by critics and won several prizes, including three ECHO Klassik Awards. In 2014, his recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (with hr-Sinfonieorchester and conductor, Gianandrea Noseda) and Beethoven’s Sonatas Op. 111 and Op. 27/2 Moonlight was released, as well as the CD Say plays Say, featuring his compositions for piano. Since 2016 Say has been an exclusive Warner Classics artist. In the autumn of 2016, his recording of all of Mozart sonatas was released on the label, for which, in 2017, Say received his fourth ECHO Klassik award. Together with Nicolas Altstaedt, he recorded the album 4 Cities (2017). In autumn 2017 Warner Classics will release Nocturnes by Frédéric Chopin and the album Secrets, featuring French songs which he recorded together with Marianne Crebassa.
About the Artists
Performers for this concert include the University of Maryland School of Music faculty and students.