Stephen Kovacevich is one of the most searching interpreters. As a pianist he has won unsurpassed admiration for his playing of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Schubert. In addition to his long and distinguished career as a soloist he has conducted for many years, winning warm praise for his work with orchestras throughout the world in repertoire from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Born in Los Angeles, Stephen Kovacevich made his concert debut as a pianist at the age of 11. When he was 18 he moved to England to study with Madame Myra Hess. His international reputation has been built both on his concert appearances, renowned for their thoughtfulness and recreative intensity, and on the highly acclaimed recordings he made throughout his career.

Kovacevich has enjoyed two-long term relationships with recording companies, first Philips and then EMI. His concerto recordings for Philips, including Beethoven, Schumann and Bartók, have been long staples of the catalogue. As an exclusive EMI artist, he recorded both Brahms Piano Concertos with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Sawallisch; nº 1 was Grammy-nominated and won the 1993 Gramophone Award and the Stereo Review Record of the Year, while nº 2 won the Diapason D’Or. The other great projects of his work with EMI were a compelling series of Schubert Sonatas and a set of the 32 Beethoven Sonatas completed in 2003, hailed as one of the most authoritative ever recorded. One critic described The Hammerklavier as “an unflinching, sometimes combative view of a titanic masterpiece, and a version to be spoken of in the same breath as those of Brendel, Gilels and Pollini… Kovacevich announces the music’s potency from the first bar.” His latest CD release is a disc of Chopin and Ravel [EMI] that has already won prizes in Choc du Monde de la Musique and Recompense Classica / Repertoire.

Stephen Kovacevich has appeared with orchestras worldwide, including recent concerto performances with the London Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Since his conducting debut in 1984 with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Kovacevich has conducted many of the world’s finest orchestras, including the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, London Mozart Players, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, Gulbenkian and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras and the Tapiola Sinfonietta.

After his London conducting debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, the Daily Telegraph critic Geoffrey Norris wrote: “he brought precision and crispness combined with a full tone and galvanising immediacy. Structure was unshakeable; these performances really made one sit up and take note.” After an initial concentration on 18th-century music (especially Mozart), Kovacevich’s conducting repertoire has expanded to include 19th-century Romantic music, including the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and a memorable Sibelius Symphony nº 4.

Stephen Kovacevich is a committed chamber music player whose partners include Steven Isserlis, Lynn Harrell, Gautier Capuçon, Renaud Capuçon, Kyung-Wha Chung, Truls Mørk, Emmanuel Pahud and Anna Larsson. He has lived in London for many years.


November 20th, 9.30PM
Palácio Nacional de Queluz