Performance Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | 7:30 PM

Jonathan Biss

Zankel Hall
Highly regarded for his intellect and “unerring sophistication” (The New Yorker), Jonathan Biss returns to Carnegie Hall to present works by Mozart and Schumann, along with selections from Janáček’s On the Overgrown Path.


  • Jonathan Biss, Piano


  • SCHUMANN Fantasiestücke
  • JANÁCEK Selections from On the Overgrown Path, Book I
  • MOZART Minuet in D Major, K. 355
  • MOZART Adagio in B Minor, K. 540
  • SCHUMANN Davidsbündlertänze

  • Encore:
  • SCHUMANN "Im Anfange ruhiges, im Verlauf bewegtes Tempo" from Fünf Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133


  • Jonathan Biss

    Jonathan Biss has appeared with the foremost orchestras of North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Widely regarded not only for his artistry and poetic interpretations, but also for his deep musical curiosity, Mr. Biss performs a diverse repertoire that ranges from Mozart and Beethoven through the Romantics to Janáček and Schoenberg, as well as works by contemporary composers such as György Kurtág and commissions from Leon Kirchner, Lewis Spratlan, and Bernard Rands. Mr. Biss has recently embarked on a new project in which he explores Robert Schumann's role in musical history, entitled Schumann: Under the Influence.   The initiative features Mr. Biss and several collaborators around the world performing Schumann's works; music by his notable influences, such as Beethoven, Schubert, and Purcell; and selections from his long list of successors, ranging from Berg and Janáček to Timothy Andres.

    Mr. Biss also has a busy recording career. His releases include an album of Schubert sonatas and two short Kurtág pieces, named by   NPR   as one of the best albums of 2009. His recent albums for EMI won a Diapason d'Or award and an Edison Award. In January 2012, Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven's complete sonatas. His recent CD of Schumann and Dvořák piano quintets was made with the Elias String Quartet.

    Mr. Biss studied at Indiana University and at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he was appointed to the piano faculty in 2010. His bestselling e-book, Beethoven's Shadow (published by Rosetta Books in 2011) was the first Kindle Single to be written by a classical musician. He followed it with the e-book A Pianist Under the Influence, a personal introduction to the music of Schumann. His blog-featuring ruminations on music, reflections on his life as a musician, and interviews-can be found at

    More Info


Schumann's Fantasie in C (Durchaus phantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen)
Jonathan Biss, Piano

At a Glance

This evening's concert presents a series of oppositions: major against minor, meek versus muscular. Such contrasts lend music drama; they provoke the tensions and resolutions that are part and parcel of its forms and narratives. For Robert Schumann, they were also indicative of a taxing emotional life in which he was beset by depression and unable to impress his future father-in-law. In order to deal with these disappointments, Schumann retreated into an imaginary world, dominated by two characters called Florestan and Eusebius. One is outspoken while the other is introverted, and they jostle for our attention in Fantasiestücke and Davidsbündlertänze.

Leoš Janáček had his own problems, including a trying domestic situation and the failure of his contemporaries to understand his music. His character pieces called On the Overgrown Path are the unknowing offspring of Schumann's musical postcards. Although distinctly Moravian in flavor, they are filled with the same longing and unresolved harmonic frictions. Yet even Mozart, the ever-prodigious composer who was lauded across Europe, communicates similar tensions in two piano works from his last decade. Rather than the irrepressible happiness we immediately associate with Mozart, here a melancholic shadow hovers over the music.
Program Notes
This performance is part of Keyboard Virtuosos III: Keynotes.