Martin Berkofsky (born 1943, Washington, D.C.) is an American classical pianist known primarily for his interpretations of music by Franz Liszt and Alan Hovhaness. He has performed extensively throughout Europe as well as in Turkey and Armenia.
Of Belarussian ancestry, Berkofsky was a child prodigy; he began giving public performances and making recordings at the age of 8. During his early years he began traveling frequently to Europe to perform and record with orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra and Berlin Symphony Orchestra. He studied with the Polish pianist Mieczysław Munz (who had been a student of Ferruccio Busoni), with Konrad Wolff (a student of Artur Schnabel), and Walter Hautzig (who was a student of both Schnabel and Munz), as well as with Hans Kann in Vienna.
Berkofsky served as co-director of New York's Long Island Chamber Ensemble for three years. During this time, in 1971, Berkofsky met the composer Alan Hovhaness while the group was performing one of the composer's works. Many performances of Hovhaness works followed including a 1971 Carnegie Recital Hall all-Hovhaness concert which premiered "Saturn", Op. 243, which Hovhaness had written for the Ensemble. Hovhaness gave many newly-composed and unrecorded scores to Berkofsky who over the next decades recorded a number of discs of Hovhaness's music.
Berkofsky is known also for his work in the field of musicology. He helped to research and to restore the long-lost Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra of Max Bruch. When sole copyright to Bruch's work was claimed by Nathan Twining, the first pianist with whom he recorded the work, he successfully campaigned to return the rights of the music to the family of the composer, allowing them to publish the score with Simrock, Bruch's original publisher. National Public Radio broadcast a four-day series documenting his campaign. Subsequently he recorded the concerto a second time with the pianist David Hagan. Berkofsky also did similar restoration of a duo piano concerto composed jointly by Felix Mendelssohn and Ignaz Moscheles. In addition, he discovered in Paris and subsequently edited and published a previously unknown manuscript by Franz Liszt. Together with baritone Ludovic Konya and pianist Ferdinand Weiss he shares three compact discs of the Romanian composer Nicolae Bretan. Most recently, he recorded, together with the Romanian baritone Alexandru Agache, a new compact disc of Bretan's Romanian lieder. Bretan was removed from Romanian musical life because of his refusal to join the Communist Party: at the invitation of Bretan's daughter, Berkofsky joined the campaign to restore his music to the world.
Since recovering from a serious motorcycle accident which took place in Iceland in 1982, Berkofsky has donated proceeds from his performances to various charitable causes. He later founded the Cristofori Foundation to facilitate this purpose.
To celebrate his 60th birthday and his successful recovery from cancer, Berkofsky embarked on a marathon concert tour, "Celebrate Life Run," running 880 miles across America's heartland and raising over US$80,000 for cancer research. A second marathon six years later "All Men are Brothers" named after the symphony by that name of Alan Hovhaness, was run by Berkofsky from the summit of New Hampshire's Mt. Monadnock, to the Arlington, Massachusetts boyhood home of the composer. A member of the Alan Hovhaness Commemorative Committee, Berkofsky substantially aided in the successful efforts to fund and to unveil the first tangible memorial to Hovhaness.
In 2004, he presented the first Armenian performance of Hovhaness's piano concerto Lousadzak (1944), with the Alan Hovhaness Chamber Orchestra of Yerevan. Together with pianist Atakan Sarı he gave the world premiere performance in Moscow of Hovhaness' Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra with the Globalis Symphony Orchestra. In 2005 he presented the Turkish premiere of Lousadzak with the Orchestra Academic Başkent, Ankara, perhaps the first performance of a Hovhaness work in that nation. That same year, his and Atakan Sari's recording of Hovhaness' Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra was released. In November 2006, again with Sarı, he gave the Armenian premiere of the Hovhaness Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra in Yerevan. Another Hovhaness Armenian premiere was given in April, 2008, with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra in Yerevan, this time, Hovhaness' early "Prayer-Piano Concerto for Symphony Orchestra." At the same time, Berkofsky was awarded a Diploma by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia for his services to Armenian music.
Berkofsky has recorded for the Cristofori, Sanctuary/Black Box, Koch International, Crystal, Vox Allegretto, Nimbus, Vox-Turnabout, FONO, Angel, Poseidon Society, and Musical Heritage Society labels. For his charitable work he has been honored by the Voice of America's documentary "American Profiles."
Berkofsky lives in Casanova, Virginia and is helping to coordinate the project to establish the Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre, a central archive of Hovhaness' work which is being constructed in Yerevan, Armenia.
• 1972 - Alan Hovhaness: Saturn, Op. 243. Long Island Chamber Ensemble of New York (Kate Hurney, soprano; Lawrence Sobol, clarinet; Martin Berkofsky, piano). LP. New York: Poseidon.
• 1972 - Alan Hovhaness: Khaldis, Op. 91; The Spirit of Ink, Op. 230. Marin Berkofsky, piano; Samuel Baron, flute; Lawrence Sobol, conductor. LP. New York: Poseidon.
• 1974 - Max Bruch: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in A-flat minor, Op. 88a; 6 Klavierstücke, Op. 12; 2 Klavierstücke, Op. 14. Martin Berkofsky, piano; Nathan Twining, piano (in the concerto); London Symphony Orchestra, dir. Antal Dorati. LP. Hollywood, California: Angel.
• 1976 - Johann Sebastian Bach: The Brandenburg Concerti. Transcribed for piano duet by Max Reger. Martin Berkofsky, piano; David Hagan, piano. 2 LPs. Oakhurst, New Jersey: Musical Heritage Society.
• 1978 - Max Bruch: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, Op. 88a in A-flat minor; Fantasy for Two Pianos in D minor, Op. 11; Schwedische Tänze (Swedish Dances) for piano four-hands, Op. 63 (originally for violin and piano; arranged by the composer). Martin Berkofsky and David Hagan, pianos; Berlin Symphony Orchestra, dir. Lutz Herbig. LP. Turnabout.
• 1981 - Johann Sebastian Bach: The Four Orchestral Suites, S. 1066-1069. Transcribed for piano duet by Max Reger. Martin Berkofsky, piano; David Hagan, piano (four hands). 2 LPs. Tinton Falls, New Jersey: Musical Heritage Society.
• 1994 - Max Bruch: Works for Violin and Two Pianos (Violin Concerto no. 1 in G minor, Op. 26; Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in A-flat minor, Op. 88a; Fantasy for Two Pianos in D minor, Op. 11; Schwedische Tänze (Swedish Dances), for piano four hands, Op. 63. Ruggiero Ricci, violin; Bochum Symphony, dir. Matthias Kuntzsch; Martin Berkofsky, David Hagan, pianos; Berlin Symphony Orchestra, dir. Lutz Herbig. CD. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Vox Allegretto.
• 1997 - Franz Liszt. Piano music played by Martin Berkofsky (Rhapsodie hongroise no. 12; La Vallée d'Obermann; Legende: St. François de Paule marchant sur les flots; Aprés une lecture du Dante (Fantasia quasi Sonata). CD. Casanova, Virginia: Cristofori Foundation.
• 1997 - Alan Hovhaness: Armenian Rhapsodies 1, 2, and 3; My Soul Is a Bird, from Symphony no. 38, Op. 314; Lullaby, from Symphony no. 38, Op. 314; Concerto no. 10 for piano, trumpet, and strings, Op. 413. Hinako Fujihara, coloratura soprano; Scott Goff, flute; Martin Berkofsky, piano; Chris Butler, trumpet; Seattle Symphony Orchestra, dir. Gerard Schwarz. [Austria]: Koch Schwann.
• 1999 - Nicolae Bretan: Sacred Songs. Phyllis Bryn-Julson, soprano; Ludovic Konya, baritone; Ronald Stalford; Donald S. Sutherland, organ; Ferdinand Weiss; Martin Berkofsky, piano. CD. Wyastone Leys, Monmouth: Nimbus.
• 2005 - Alan Hovhaness: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra; Mihr; Ko-ola-u; Vijag; Lousadzak: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Martin Berkofsky, piano; Atakan Sari, piano; Sergei Podobedov, piano; Nikolai Zherenkov, violin; Globalis Symphony Orchestra, dir. Konstantin Krimets. CD. [England]: Black Box.
• 2007 - Ludwig van Beethoven: Choral Fantasy. Martin Berkofsky, piano; Globalis Symphony Orchestra, dir. Konstantin Krimets, Chorus of the Music College of the Moscow Conservatory. Johanness Brahms: Two Sonatas for clarinet and piano; Einar Johannesson, clarinet; Martin Berkofsky, piano. Robert Schumann: Fantasiestucke for clarinet and piano; Einar Johannesson, clarinet, Martin Berkofsky, piano. CD, Casanova, VA, Cristofori Foundation.
• 2007 - Nicolae Bretan: "The Songs of Nicolae Bretan". Alexandru Agache, baritone, Martin Berkofsky, piano. CD. Wyastone Leys, Monmouth: Nimbus.
• 2011 - Franz Liszt: "Visions" piano works; Étude d’exécution transcendante no. 11 “Harmonies du Soir” S 139, Légende no. 1: St. Françoisd’Assise. La prédication aux oiseaux S 173:1,
Légende no. 2: St. François de Paule marchant sur les flots S 173:2, Ave Maria “Die Glocken von Rom” S 182, Hungarian Rhapsody no. 12 S 244, Sancta Dorothea S 187, Étude d’exécution transcendante no. 7 “Vision” S 139, Pater Noster from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses S 173, Martin Berkofsky, piano, Hybrid SACD. Germany, ARTS Music.
• 2011 - Ludwig van Beethoven "HOPE". Benefit for Assistance in Health Care and Donatori di Musica. Ludwig van Beethoven: Choral Fantasy. Martin Berkofsky, piano; Globalis Symphony Orchestra, dir. Konstantin Krimets, Chorus of the Music College of the Moscow Conservatory. Sonata Op. 2 No. 2, Martin Berkofsky, piano. Sonata Op. 110, Atakan Sari, piano, Sonata Op. 27 No. 2, Roberto Prosseda, piano. CD. USA, Casanova, VA, Cristofori Foundation.
• I Remember Theodore Roethke (2005). Produced and edited by Jean Walkinshaw. SCCtv (Seattle Community Colleges Television). 30 min. (Berkofsky's performances of Alan Hovhaness compositions used in soundtrack.)
• A Tribute to Alan Hovhaness (2006). Produced by Alexan Zakyan. Yerevan, Armenia: Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre. 22 minutes. (Berkofsky's performances of Alan Hovhaness compositions used in soundtrack.)
• American Profile: Martin Berkofsky (2008). Produced by Irina Robertson for the Voice of America.