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Born in 1944 in Lisbon, the pianist Maria João Pires gave her first concert at the age of four and was nine years old when she won Portugal’s Jeunesse Musicale Competition, which was followed by a series of additional awards. In 1961 she received a grant enabling her to continue her studies with Rosl Schmid and Karl Engel in Germany. Her international career began in 1970 when she won an international competition marking the 200th birthday of Beethoven. Important stages in her career have included her debuts in London (1986) and New York (1989). In 1987 Claudio Abbado engaged her as soloist for the first tour undertaken by the newly founded Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, and he also conducted Pires in her Vienna Philharmonic debut in 1990. Today she concertizes all over Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, and Israel. Appearances during the 2015-16 season included with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony; in the current season she will work with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and undertake a European tour with the Artemis Quartet. Her repertoire focuses on the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Chopin. Educational work plays an important role for Maria João Pires as well: in the course of her teaching she founded the “Partitura” project, which engages both young and experienced artists in non-competitive, friendly interactions, while her “Equinox” project provides musical support for disadvantaged children under the age of 14. Her CDs have garnered many awards. Her latest recording, from 2014, is of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos 3 and 4 with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 22 August 1976 in a matinee concert in memory of Clara Haskil featuring works by such composers as Bach, Mozart, and Chopin.