Russian harpsichordist Olga Watts is a chamber music specialist in thorough bass performance. Resident in Germany for the past eighteen years, she has worked with many leading European Baroque specialists including Reinhard Goebel, Frans Bruggen, Thomas Hengelbrock, Andreas Scholl, Giovanni Antonini and Lars Ulrik Mortensen. She records regularly for Bavarian Radio, and has also recorded for Southwest German and North German Radio, both as soloist and chamber musician.
As top scholar of the music high school at the Moscow Conservatorium, Olga then proceeded to study piano and musicology at the Moscow Conservatorium before going to Munich to study harpsichord and thorough bass with Professors Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Christine Schornsheim. In 1997 she was awarded first prize for the most talented artist in the category early music performance in Bavaria, Germany. During her studies, Olga also attended masterclasses with Menno van Delft and Bob van Asperen. She received her diploma with distinction in 1998 and completed her Masters degree in 2003.
Olga Watts is a much sought-after accompanist, for example as official accompanist for at the International ARD (German Radio) Competition and the Leipzig Bach Competition. She works also as harpsichord accompanist at the High School of Music and Theatre in Munich and the University Mozarteum in Salzburg.
Together with her ensemble Lyriarte founded in 2000, she has won numerous prizes at various competitions in Germany, Italy and Austria and toured through Europe to much critical acclaim. A CD with rarely heard sonatas by Francesco Maria Veracini and Francesco Saverio Geminiani recorded by Bavarian Radio was released in 2004, and a new CD with Lyriarte with works by Antonio and Francesco Maria Veracini, and the Corelli sonatas Opus 5 with recorder player Stefan Temmingh. Her last CD production “Gentleman’s flute” was nominated for the International Classic Music Awards (MIDEM) in 2010.
Els Biesemans was born in Antwerp and is at home on a number of different keyboard instruments, performing concerts on the clavichord, fortepiano, modern concert grand piano, harpsichord, and organ in most European countries, Japan, Canada and the US.
She received a Master’s degree in music performance majoring in piano, organ and chamber music at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven, Belgium. She subsequently completed advanced studies in fortepiano (Jesper Christensen) and organ (Andrea Marcon, Wolfgang Zerer) at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland.
She has won prizes at well-known international competitions in Vilnius, Tokyo, Prague, Paris, and Montreal. In August 2012 she took First Prize in the international Arp-Schnitger Competition.
One month later her first cd on fortepiano, the very first recording on a historical instrument of the cycle 'The Year' and other works by Fanny Hensel, appeared on the GENUIN label
Her discography includes symphonic organ repertoire by Belgian and French composers as well as the complete works for organ by Maurice Duruflé on the Animato and Et‘cetera labels. She also has completed various recordings for Belgian and Swiss radio broadcasters...
Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco (4 May 1655 – 27 January 1731) was an Italian maker of musical instruments, generally regarded as the inventor of the piano.
The available source materials on Cristofori's life include his birth and death records, two wills, the bills he submitted to his employers, and a single interview carried out by Scipione Maffei. From the latter, both Maffei's notes and the published journal article are preserved.
Cristofori was born in Padua in the Republic of Venice. Nothing is known of his early life. A tale is told that he served as an apprentice to the great violin maker Nicolò Amati, based on the appearance in a 1680 census record of a "Christofaro Bartolomei" living in Amati's house in Cremona. However, as Stewart Pollens points out, this person cannot be Bartolomeo Cristofori, since the census records an age of 13, whereas Cristofori according to his baptismal record would have been 25 at the time. Pollens also gives strong reasons to doubt the authenticity of the cello and double bass instruments sometimes attributed to Cristofori.
Probably the most important event in Cristofori's life is the first one of which we have any record: in 1688, at age 33, he was recruited to work for Prince Ferdinando de Medici. Ferdinando, a lover and patron of music, was the son and heir of Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Tuscany was at a time still a small independent state.
It is not known what led Ferdinando to recruit Cristofori. The Prince traveled to Venice in 1688 to attend the Carnival, so he may have met Cristofori passing through Padua on his way home. Ferdinando was looking for a new technician to take care of his many musical instruments, the previous incumbent having just died. However, it seems possible that the Prince wanted to hire Cristofori not just as his technician, but specifically as an innovator in musical instruments. It would be surprising if Cristofori at age 33 had not already shown the inventiveness for which he later became famous.
The evidence—all circumstantial—that Cristofori may have been hired as an inventor is as follows. According to Stewart Pollens, there were already a number of qualified individuals in Florence who could have filled the position; however, the Prince passed them over, and paid Cristofori a higher salary than his predecessor. Moreover, Pollens notes, "curiously, [among the many bills Cristofori submitted to his employer] there are no records of bills submitted for Cristofori's pianofortes ... This could mean that Cristofori was expected to turn over the fruits of his experimentation to the court." Lastly, the Prince was evidently fascinated with machines (he collected over forty clocks, in addition to a great variety of elaborate musical instruments), and would thus be naturally interested in the elaborate mechanical action that was at the core of Cristofori's work on the piano...
Joseph-Maurice Ravel (7 March 1875 – 28 December 1937) was a French composer known especially for his melodies, masterful orchestration, richly evocative harmonies and inventive instrumental textures and effects. Along with Claude Debussy, he was one of the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist music. Much of his piano music, chamber music, vocal music and orchestral music is part of the standard concert repertoire.
Ravel's piano compositions, such as Jeux d'eau, Miroirs, Le tombeau de Couperin and Gaspard de la nuit, demand considerable virtuosity from the performer, and his mastery of orchestration is particularly evident in such works as Rapsodie espagnole, Daphnis et Chloé and his arrangement of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Ravel is best known for his orchestral work Boléro (1928), which he once described as "a piece for orchestra without music".
According to SACEM, as recently as 2009 Ravel has been on the list of the top 20 artists whose works have generated the most royalties abroad...
Claudia Klinkenberg, born in 1964 in Bonn, is a collector of keyboard instruments, pianist and harpsichordist based in South-west Germany.
As a musician, she confidently moves between many different styles; her musical and emotional range is far-reaching.
In her programs, she combines ancient music, classical, world music, jazz and pop.
She has performed in Bonn, Stuttgart (Mercedes-Benz-Museum), Karlsruhe (ZKM, Tollhaus, multiple times on the European Cultural Days festival), Münster (Westphalian State Museum), in the city of Bach Köthen (the famous Spiegelsaal, or Hall of Mirrors), Munich (BMW World), Milan, Paris (Festival of St. Cloud), Vienna (Bösendorfer Hall), Los Angeles, in a number of cities in India and in many other cities in Germany and around the world...
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