Yefim Bronfman takes Tchaikovsky on tour


Yefim Bronfman
Photo credit: Dario Acosta

Piano virtuoso Yefim Bronfman arrives in San Francisco this week, at the start of a series of engagements in which he’ll visit four North American cities.  The tour includes performances with the San Francisco Symphony, the NAC Orchestra in Ottawa, the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, all of which will feature one of Mr Bronfman’s signature works, the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1.

Widely recognised as one of the most talented performers of today, Mr Bronfman is known for his “commanding technique and exceptional lyrical gifts”, acclaimed by critics, and thrilling audiences the world over with his recitals, orchestral appearances and his catalogue of recordings.  The New York Times describes him as “…certainly one of the greatest pianists active today…”.

Born in Tashkent, in the Soviet Union, Yefim Bronfman emigrated to Israel with his family in 1973, at the age of 15.  There he studied with pianist Arie Vardi, head of the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University.  In the United States, he continued his studies at the Juilliard School, at Marlboro, and the Curtis Institute, under the instruction of teachers such as Rudolf Firkusny, Leon Fleisher and Rudolf Serkin.  Mr Bronfman was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1991, and the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize from Northwestern University in 2010.

Rezital 1: Yefim Bronfman; Konzerteinführung Alfred Brendel

Piano virtuoso Yefim Bronfman
Photo credit: Georg Anderhub/Lucerne Festival

In 1997, he won a Grammy® award for his recording of the three Bartók piano concertos, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and in 2009 was nominated for a Grammy® for his recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto, a performance led by the composer.  Mr Bronfman has recorded DVDs with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and the Berlin Philharmonic, and his impressive range of CD recordings includes works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Magnus Lindberg, and of course Tchaikovsky – the Piano Concerto No 1 having been recorded with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Mariss Jansons.

Already in this 2013-14 season, Yefim Bronfman has appeared at the Aspen, Tanglewood and Grand Teton summer festivals, completed a tour of Amsterdam, Helsinki, Luxembourg, Lucerne and Berlin with the Royal Concertgebouw and performed in Moscow with the Russian State Symphony Orchestra.  After this Fall series of North American concerts, engagements are lined up in Paris, Berlin, Munich, Moscow and Vancouver, before Mr Bronfman goes on tour with the Royal Concertgebouw once more – this time to Australia, as part of the Concertgebouw’s worldwide centenary celebrations.


The New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Photo credit: Chris Lee

Yefim Bronfman is also Artist-in-Residence with the New York Philharmonic this season, and in this capacity he will perform – amongst other works – the complete cycle of Beethoven piano concertos, led by the New York Phil’s Music Director, Alan Gilbert, as well as joining the Orchestra for a winter tour to the Far East.  Next spring will see him embarking on a tour of the US and Canada, with Pinchas Zukerman, and an appearance at the Berlin Philharmonic’s spring residency in Baden-Baden.

1-Porträt_des_Komponisten_Pjotr_I._Tschaikowski_(1840-1893) copy

Source: State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow – via Wikimedia Commons

It almost defies belief that Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, one of the great works of Russian Romanticism, and amongst the best known of all piano concertos, received such a disastrous reception from Nicolai Rubenstein, Director of the Moscow Conservatory, and  the man whom Tchaikovsky had hoped would premiere the work.  It was composed in November and December 1874, and the orchestration was completed in February the following year.   With Rubenstein refusing to perfrom the concerto until a number of revisions had been made, and Tchaikovsky refusing to “alter a single note”, the concerto was premiered at the Music Hall in Boston on October 25, 1875, with soloist Hans von Bülow – to whom it was dedicated.  Benjamin Johnson Lang conducted a freelance orchestra.  Rubenstein, however, was eventually won over, and not only performed the concerto many times, but he became an ardent supporter of the work, which underwent further revisions in the summer of 1879 and December 1888.


Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony
Photo credit: Bill Swerbensky


Michael Tilson Thomas – Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony
Photo credit: Courtesy San Francisco Symphony

Yefim Bronfman performs the Tchaikovsky concerto with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall on September 11th, 12th and 14th.  The programme opens with the West Coast premiere of Lineage by young Canadian composer, Zosha Di Castri – a work commissioned as part of the SF Symphony’s New Voices partnership with the New World Symphony in Miami, and Boosey & Hawkes.  The concert also features Prokofiev’s Symphony No 3, the work which the composer considered to be “one of my best compositions”.


Pinchas Zukerman
Photo credit: Cheryl Mazak

The National Arts Center in Ottawa is Mr Bronfman’s next port of call, and there, on September 19th, he’ll perform the Tchaikovsky concerto with the NAC Orchestra, under the direction of Pinchas Zukerman. The programme includes John Estacio’s Brio: Toccata and Fantasy for Orchestra – a work commissioned by the NAC Orchestra – and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5.

Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert Credit:  Chris Lee

Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert
Photo credit: Chris Lee

From September 26th to 28th, Yefim Bronfman will perform with the New York Philharmonic, led by Alan Gilbert, in a programme in which the Tchaikovsky concerto will be preceded by Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso (Morning Song of a Jester), and followed by Leonard Bernstein’s suite of Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.


Walt Disney Concert Hall – View From Courthouse
Photo credit: Music Center of Los Angeles County


Gustavo Dudamel
Photo credit: Chris Christodoulou

In this 10th anniversary season of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic welcome Mr Bronfman and Tchaikovsky from October 3rd to 6th.  The programme includes Schubert’s Symphony No 4 – given the title Tragic by the composer – and the world premiere of an LA Phil commission, Lieberson’s Shing Kham percussion concerto.


For further information on Yefim Bronfman and these performances, please visit the following websites:

Yefim Bronfman

San Francisco Symphony 

National Arts Center, Ottawa  

New York Philharmonic 

Los Angeles Philharmonic 

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