January 06, 2020


Culminating in a performance at Carnegie Hall, the tour marks the orchestra’s first in the U.S. and also includes concerts at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, Virginia Tech, University of Georgia, and Duke, Immaculata, & Lehigh Universities As part of the culminating season of his decade-long focus on the music of Beethoven, pianist Jonathan Biss performs the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major (“Emperor”) with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, led by Osmo Vänskä, on its first U.S. tour, from January 30 to February 8. This seven-city East Coast tour comprises concerts at Immaculata University’s Alumnae Hall (Immaculata, PA) on Thursday, January 30 at 8:00 p.m.; Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater (Philadelphia, PA) on Friday, January 31 at 8:00 p.m.; Lehigh University’s Zoellner Arts Center (Bethlehem, PA) on Saturday, February 1 at 4:00 p.m.; University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall (Athens, GA) on Monday, February 3 at 7:30 p.m.; Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center (Blacksburg, VA) on Wednesday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m.; Duke University’s Baldwin Auditorium (Durham, NC) on Thursday, February 6 at 8:00 p.m.; and Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage (New York, NY) on Saturday, February 8 at 8:00 p.m. In addition to the “Emperor” Concerto, the tour program includes Mr. Vänskä conducting Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 and Curtis alumna Gabriella Smith’s newly commissioned work f(x) = sin²x –1/x. Links to ticketing information are available at For Mr. Biss, a 2001 Curtis alumnus who is now on faculty as the Neubauer Family Chair in Piano Studies, this tour is one of two Beethoven-themed collaborations with his alma mater this season. Today, January 6, registration opens for the final lectures in his free web course Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, which surveys all 32 of these landmark works and is hosted by online learning platform Coursera in partnership with Curtis. He launched the course in 2013, and since then it has reached more than 150,000 students in nearly every country in the world. Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas is one of many avenues through which he has engaged with and shared Beethoven’s music over the past decade—for him a period of in-depth immersion in the composer’s work. While Mr. Biss’s chief focus has been the Beethoven piano sonatas—including several performance cycles this season and a complete, nine-disc box set to be released by Orchid Classics on March 6—he has also explored the composer’s five piano concertos. Most notably, in 2015 he partnered with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra to launch a commissioning project, Beethoven/5, that pairs each Beethoven concerto with a new concerto composed in response. This project has led to world premieres by Timo Andres, Sally Beamish, Salvatore Sciarrino, Caroline Shaw, and—this season—Brett Dean, whose new commission, Gneixendorfer Musik – A Winter’s Journey, was composed in response to the “Emperor” Concerto. On February 13 and 15, Mr. Biss joins The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm to perform this world premiere and the “Emperor” Concerto itself on the same program. In recital this season, Mr. Biss performs the Beethoven sonatas almost exclusively, including complete cycles at Berkeley’s Hertz Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, and the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts at Oklahoma State University. He also gives sonata recitals and mini-cycles around the U.S. this season, including at the 92nd Street Y in New York, Perelman Theater in Philadelphia, Meany Hall in Seattle, and The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, as well as abroad in Budapest, Melbourne, Rome, and Sydney.