Stephen KovacevichView in iTunes
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A highly regarded pianist featured in the Philips label's Great Pianists of the 20th Century series, Stephen Kovacevich is particularly known for his original approach to the standard classical repertoire. Prominent in his repertoire is the music of such composers as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Grieg, Brahms, and Bartók, but he is also an acclaimed interpreter of contemporary music, including Tippett's Piano Concerto and Richard Rodney Bennett's concerto (which was dedicated to Kovacevich). Born Stephen Bishop, he added his Croatian mother's surname, Kovacevich, in 1975, just in time to avoid confusion with popular singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop. Later in his career, however, he decided to use just the Croatian surname. He played his first concert in San Francisco, at the age of 11. When he was 14, he played Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major and Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. In 1959, Kovacevich went to London, where he studied with Dame Myra Hess. A highly influential teacher, Myra Hess recognized and encouraged Kovacevich's affinity with Beethoven's music, particularly the works form his late period. On his London debut, in 1961, Kovacevich played Beethoven's "Diabelli" Variations to enthusiastic reviews. Following his London triumph, Kovacevich embarked on a brilliant international career, performing with many major orchestras and making numerous acclaimed recordings, including legendary performances with Martha Argerich and Jacqueline du Pré. Kovacevich, who has played all of Mozart's concertos, is also known for his acclaimed series of Schubert's and Beethoven's sonatas. A particularly memorable performance is his interpretation of Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1, with Sawallisch, which received the 1993 Gramophone Award. He has an exclusive recording contract with EMI International. In 1984, Kovacevich started a conducting career, and has since conducted the Austrialian Chamber Orchestra and the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Also known for his support of contemporary composers, Kovacevich commissioned Stephen Montague's Southern Lament and performed the premiere at the 1997 Cheltenham International Music Festival. Also a teacher, Kovacevich has published a scholarly edition of Schubert's piano music.