Long recognized as one of the century’s great pianists, Ivan Moravec’s performances and recordings alike have prompted critics in search of parallels to call up such names as Gieseking and Richter. Yet his musicianship, while it challenges comparison with these masters, is riveting and penetratingly individual in style.
Mr. Moravec was born in Prague in 1930 and until the age of 15 his main musical interest was in opera. He later studied piano at the Prague Conservatory and the Prague Academy, performing during his student years in Poland and Hungary. In 1957 Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli heard Mr. Moravec perform in Prague and invited him to Italy for further study, where he participated in Michelangeli’s master classes in Arezzo in 1957 and 1958.
Mr. Moravec made his American debut in January 1964 with the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell at Severance Hall; the following month he made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall during Cleveland’s annual week of appearances there. Since then he has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia, Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, the Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto and Pittsburgh symphonies and the Los Angeles and Orpheus chamber orchestras among many others. As one of the world’s most acclaimed recitalists, Mr. Moravec has appeared in recital at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center and on the major recital series in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland and Philadelphia. His festival appearances in the United States include Tanglewood, Blossom, Ravinia, the Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart and Caramoor.
Recent and upcoming performance highlights in North America include appearances with the St. Louis, Detroit, Seattle, Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas, Indianapolis and Colorado symphonies; the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa; performances in Carnegie Hall on the Keyboard Virtuoso Series and with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s; and solo recitals in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Kansas City, Princeton, Fort Worth for the Van Cliburn Piano Foundation and at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
During the 07/08 season, Ivan Moravec was The Belknap Visitor in the Humanities at Princeton University and while on campus appeared in recital, with the University Orchestra and taught master classes. The Belknap Visitors program was created to recognize distinguished individuals in the arts and letters and previous visitors have included Isaac Bashevis Singer, John Updike, Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, Roy Lichtenstein and Merce Cunningham.
In Europe, Mr. Moravec has appeared in recital and as concerto soloist in the major music capitals, including Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Munich, Oslo, Rome, Milan and on the prestigious International Piano Series at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. His international festival appearances include the Salzburg, Edinburgh, Ruhr, Schleswig-Holstein and Prague Spring Festivals.
In October 2000 Vaclav Havel, then President of the Czech Republic, awarded Ivan Moravec the Medal of Merit for Outstanding Artistic Achievement. That same month Mr. Moravec was also honored by being the recipient of the Prize of Charles the Fourth, the Czech Republic’s most prestigious acknowledgement of outstanding service to humanity. In January 2002 he was honored with a Cannes Classical Award for Lifetime Achievement, an award given by several international music magazines to recognize the universal appeal of classical music.
Ivan Moravec has recorded for the Nonesuch, Supraphon, Connoisseur Society, Dorian, Pro Arte, Quintessence, Vox and the Moss Music labels and a number of his many recordings have appeared in “Record of the Year” listings in High Fidelity, Stereo Review, the New York Times, Time Magazine and Newsweek. In November 2000 Supraphon presented Mr. Moravec with their Platinum Disc in honor of having sold more than 250,000 recordings on that label. His legendary Connoisseur Society recordings of music by Chopin, Ravel, Debussy, Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart were released by VAI Audio and again most recently in a four CD set by Supraphon. He is also one of the pianists included on Philips’ historic series Great Pianists of the 20th Century. One of his recordings of the Mozart Concerti with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields on the Hänssler label was awarded a Cannes Classical Award for Solo with Orchestra 18th Century. Mr. Moravec’s most recent recordings are a live recital recorded at the 2000 Prague Spring Festival for Hänssler; an all-Chopin CD for Vox; and piano concertos by Ravel, Beethoven and Franck with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra/Belohlavek for Supraphon