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Sebastian Knauer, solo piano

solo piano

Sunday Concert

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Photo of Sebastian Knauer

Having made his concert debut at the age of 14 in the Laeiszhalle in his native city of Hamburg, pianist Sebastian Knauer can already look back on a concert career lasting more than a quarter of a century. He has played in over 50 countries on four continents, appearing in such prestigious venues as the Berlin Philharmonie, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, London’s Wigmore Hall, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Zurich Tonhalle, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Lincoln Center in New York and the NCPA in Beijing. 

For the occasion of his 50th birthday, pianist Knauer commissioned internationally acclaimed composer Michael Nyman to compose six piano pieces intricately linked to the Piano Sonatas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Sebastian Knauer builds a musical bridge between the 18th and 21st centuries by combining these pieces with movements from existing sonatas by Mozart. With this unique recital program, Knauer demonstrates the importance of the combination of classical music and the music of today.

  • Concert guests 12 years of age and over must show proof of vaccination or a same-day negative COVID-19 test.
  • Concert guests over the age of two must wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth at all times, regardless of their vaccination status.
  • The Music Room is now able to operate at 1/2 capacity. However, given the intimate nature of the setting, we can no longer follow strict social distancing guidelines. All in-person guests may be seated next to, in front of, or behind other vaccinated and masked concert guests.

Since his concert debut at the age of 14 in the Laeiszhalle of his home city of Hamburg, Sebastian Knauer is now able to look back on a concert career spanning more than 30 years.

Sebastian Knauer has performed in over fifty countries on four continents, at venues such as the Berlin Philharmonie, the Gewandhaus Leipzig, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, London’s Wigmore Hall, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées Paris, Tonhalle Zurich, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Lincoln Center New York, Harris Theater Chicago, National Center for Performing Arts Beijing and the Toppan Hall inTokyo.

He is a regular guest at festivals such as those in Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and Rheingau, at the Dresden Music Festival, the Ruhr Piano Festival, the Beethovenfest Bonn, the Schubertiade in Hohenems, the Salzburg Festival, and in Gstaad, Montreux, Merano, Bath, Ravinia, Savannah and Shanghai.

Sebastian Knauer’s wide-ranging and multifaceted repertoire is reflected in his 15 CD releases to date. For his CD “ÜBERBACH” (composed by Arash Safaian), he was awarded the 2017 Echo Klassik prize. The recordings of “Bach & Sons” and “Bach & Sons II”, together with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra and once under the baton of Sir Roger Norrington, received high critical acclaim: “Brilliant” (Stern), “Fantastic” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung), “Excellent” (Die Presse, Vienna). Previous recordings for the Berlin Classics, Warner Classics, Deutsche Grammophon and Naxos labels have featured works by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schubert, as well as the American composers Gershwin, Barber, Bernstein and Copland. His joint project entitled “East meets West” together with Daniel Hope received an Echo Klassik Award in 2005 and a Grammy nomination. The Pianoconcerto „This is (not) Beethoven -Variations for Piano & Orchestra“, which Sebastian Knauer commissioned from composer Arash Safaian, had been released on CD (BMG/Modern Recordings) in August 2020 and entered the German Classic Charts (#6) and the US Billboard Charts (#15) shortly after.

Sebastian Knauer has played the full cycle of 27 Mozart piano concertos with the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra and all of Haydn’s concertos with the Bamberg Symphony, in both cases directing the orchestra from the piano. He has also given concerts with the Staatskapelle Dresden, the NDR Symphony Orchestra, the Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, the Philharmonia Zurich, Bournemouth Symphony, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, New York City Opera Orchestra, New Century Chamber Orchestra San Francisco and the Shanghai Philharmonic, conducted by Fabio Luisi, Thomas Hengelbrock, Neeme Järvi, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Ingo Metzmacher, Philippe Entremont, John Axelrod, Simone Young, Michael Sanderling, Alexander Shelley, Markus Poschner and Jaap van Zweden.

As a devotee of chamber music, he is involved in numerous projects with such eminent colleagues as the Emerson String Quartet, the Philharmonia Quartet Berlin, Renaud Capuçon, Sabine Meyer, Albrecht Mayer, the cellists Sol Gabetta, Jan Vogler and Alban Gerhardt, singers Anne Sofie von Otter, Simone Kermes, Christiane Karg, Mojca Erdmann, Michael Schade, and (while he was alive) Hermann Prey, as well as with choreographer John Neumeier and drummer Stewart Copeland (of The Police) and Jason Marsalis.

Furthermore, in 2016 he was co-founder of the Hamburger Pianosommer project, at which he combined four different genres in a concert with the pianists Martin Tingvall, Axel Zwingenberger and Joja Wendt. Up to four sold-out back-to-back concerts at the Hamburg State Opera and more recently a performance before several thousand people at Klassik Open Air on Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt are proof of the huge popularity of this unique combination.

As a result of his official commitments to numerous charitable institutions, and his keen interest in the state of world politics, Sebastian Knauer is frequently in the news with one or other special project.
On July 13, 2017 he organised, together with the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper, a special concert in the great hall of the new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg at which he performed for over 1,000 police officers and their partners. He called the concert RESPEKT, as a sign of recognition for their commitment in dealing with the serious clashes at the G20 summit in his home city.

Ever since 2001, he has organised numerous “Wort trifft Musik” (spoken word meets music) programmes, which always focus on one particular composer. Sebastian Knauer takes personal responsibility for the written texts detailing the composer’s life that are then recited on stage by actors. He began this series of projects with Hannelore Elsner, and together they performed several hundred times until her death in 2019. Nowadays he regularly works with German actors such as Martina Gedeck, Iris Berben, Katja Riemann, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Ulrich Tukur.

In 2012 Sebastian Knauer founded his own festival called “mozart@augsburg” and took on its artistic directorship at the same time. The festival in Augsburg, a city which has close ties with Mozart, has already featured artists such as Philippe Entremont, Mariss Jansons, Sir Roger Norrington, Menahem Pressler, András Schiff, Arcadi Volodos, Martin Stadtfeld, Lars Vogt, Daniel Hope, Christian Tetzlaff, Emanuel Pahud, Jan Vogler, the Emerson String Quartet, Artemis Quartet, Hagen Quartet, Hannelore Elsner, Klaus Maria Brandauer, the Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and the Zurich,Vienna and Paris chamber orchestras.

In 2017 he also took on artistic direction of the International Music Festival at Schloss Bad Berleburg, and in 2021 he will be initiating yet another festival in the city of Aachen under the name “Ludwig FUN Beethoven”.

Michael Nyman was born in London in 1944, studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music (with Alan Bush) and musicology at King’s College, London (with Thurston Dart) between 1962-67. Prior to becoming a full-time composer in 1977 Nyman had been a student-ethnomusicologist in Romania, a quasi-scholarly editor of Purcell and Handel, a librettist for Harrison Birtwistle, a music critic from 1968-78 and a historian of contemporary music (‘Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond', 1974, republished by Cambridge University Press in 1999.).

He has written 5 operas, of which the first was ‘The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat’ (1987), based on the case study by Oliver Sacks, 7 string quartets, 14 symphonies, a number of concertos and song cycles with texts by Pietro Aretino, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Paul Celan and Pablo Neruda.

As a composer of film music he has written soundtracks for a number of films by Peter Greenaway (of which ‘The Draughtsman’s Contract’ was the groundbreaking collaboration) and Jane Campion’s ‘The Piano’, and a number of films by Michael Winterbottom, Neil Jordan and Andrew Niccol (‘Gattaca’). He has also composed soundtracks for Eisenstein’s ‘Battleship Potemkin’ and 3 Dziga Vertov films, including ‘Man with a Movie Camera’, which has subsequently become the model for a gallery installation ('Nyman with a Movie Camera') which, along with ‘War Work: 8 Songs with Film’ is the most significant of the films that Nyman has himself directed as an ‘observational' cameraman/film-maker. His photo-book ‘Sublime’ was published in 2007 and in 2005 he set up his own record label MN Records, with ’The Piano Sings’ as the opening release.

‘The Music of Michael Nyman: Texts, Contexts and Intertexts’ by Pwyll ap Sion was published by Ashgate in 2007 and ‘Michael Nyman: Collected Writings’ was published, also by Ashgate, in 2013.

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