Hailed by the European press for his “overwhelmingly visceral” playing and a “phenomenal sound world realized through maximum palette,” Zsolt Bognár has also been recognized by the Akron-Beacon Journal as “at once extraordinary and authentic.” Recipient of the 2007 Arthur Loesser Prize, Mr. Bognár has studied for over ten years with Sergei Babayan, the distinguished performer and teacher who studied with Lev Naumov, Mikhail Pletnev, and Vera Gornostaeva. Mr. Bognár began his studies in his hometown of Champaign, Illinois with Roger Shields, a pupil of Soulima Stravinsky, Rhosina Lhevinne, Yvonne Loriod, and Wilhelm Kempff. Mr. Bognár completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and is frequently invited to perform chamber music with members of the Cleveland Orchestra and the former Cleveland Quartet. He performed a solo debut recital in May 2009 in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall introduced by the Japanese composer and musical icon Shigeaki Saegusa.
Winner of numerous awards and prizes, Mr. Bognár won first prize in the 2000 Harvard Musical Association Competition, the Boston Musician’s Prize, the 2004 Allegro Vivo Competition in Austria, the 2005 CIM Concerto Competition, 2006 Kankakee Valley Concerto Competition, and was a winner in the 2008 Bradshaw and Buono Competition in New York. His appearances abroad have included performances in Hungary, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Russia, and an ongoing series of tours in the Netherlands that started with concerts from the 2005 and 2006 Holland Music Sessions in Bergen as part of the “New Masters on Tour” series. In the United States, his performances have included appearances at Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, and the 92nd Street Y. Many of his full-length recitals and interview features have been broadcast live over NPR and telecast over the internet. During the summers of 2008, 2010, and 2012 Zsolt was invited to perform at PianoFest in the Hamptons, an eight-week festival for young musicians. In 2009 he was the Kenneth and Annette Hallock Chair of Piano at the National Repertory Orchestra in Colorado, where he was also soloist. Mr. Bognár won the 2009 Artist Presentation Society Auditions in St. Louis, a prize which seeks to find and promote emerging stars. In 2010 he was presented in a solo German recital debut in Munich’s Rubinstein Hall, followed in America by the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts Series at the Chicago Cultural Center, broadcast live on NPR WFMT. In November of 2010 he appeared in Los Angeles with Beethoven’s First Concerto with Case Scaglione and the Debut Orchestra, where an HD documentary was filmed about the project.
As part of a multi-faceted pursuit of musical goals, Zsolt also includes music scholarship and journalism in his interests and has published reviews and program notes for several publications including Wigmore Hall in London. He published an interview piece with Sergei Babayan, appearing in the November/December 2012 issue of International Piano magazine. On faculty at the Aurora School of Music, Mr. Bognár has also been involved in technology-integrated distance-learning projects for children, and community service musical outreach as part of his goal to make classical music accessible to as many people as possible. Also very active in new music ensembles, Mr. Bognár has premiered works by award-winning young composers, including Dan Visconti (in collaboration with cellist Joshua Roman) and Louis Chiappetta, in collaborations that have included appearances in Cleveland, Chicago, and at New York’s Copland House Series.
In December 2010, Mr. Bognár completed a recording and film project with Grammy-winning producer Philip Nedel in Berlin, and a tour of the Netherlands. Also from Elyria Pictures in New York is a new series of web videos in regular episodes entitled “Zsolt Bognar & Friends” which seeks to raise awareness about the many issues of musical life, in conversation with prominent musical figures around the world. A profile documentary about Mr. Bognár prepared by New York filmmakers Pete Hobbs and Elizabeth Foley is also forthcoming. Most recently in August of 2012, Mr. Bognár performed a critically-acclaimed, sold-out solo debut recital at Berlin’s Konzerthaus in Gendarmenmarkt for the Young Euro Classic Piano Festival.
PIANIST ZSOLT BOGNÁR RELEASES DEBUT ALBUM, FRANZ & FRANZ, WITH GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING PRODUCER PHILIPP NEDEL
NEW YORK – A young and rising presence in the classical music world, pianist Zsolt Bognár releases his debut album—Franz & Franz—of works by Franz Schubert and Franz Liszt, recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer Philipp Nedel in Berlin’s B-Sharp Studios. It is to be released October 2013 on the Con Brio label. Click here for the album trailer.
Fanfare Magazine triumphs the album as “meltingly beautiful, even downright seductive, his tone singing sweetly; but he can also be downright diabolical in his expression… there is plenty of excitement.”
Following 10 years of European, Asian, and American concert tours, he commits these works to disc for the first time as a culmination of his musical journeys.
Zsolt Bognár recounts: “Schubert and Liszt both had a wandering, restless musical spirit, and their works were always microcosms of these lifelong journeys. These harrowing, dramatic, and poignant statements have been at the heart of my own musical mission.”
On this disc, Mr. Bognár plays works central to his repertoire.
• Schubert Three Pieces, D.946
• Schubert-Liszt Song Transcriptions (Aufenthalt, Die Doppelgänger, Ständchen von Shakespeare)
• Paganini-Liszt “La Chasse”
• Liszt “Après une lecture de Dante”
This debut album follows recent performances in Los Angeles, New York (Lincoln Center), Chicago, Washington DC (Kennedy Center), Munich, Brussels, Vienna, and Tokyo (Suntory Hall).
He is the host of a short film series—Living the Classical Life—exploring life as a classical musician presented by Elyria Pictures in New York. Click here to watch these videos.
His musical collaborations and diverse projects were the recipient of an International Festival Society Grant in 2013 to spend a week with Martha Argerich, and have included international speaking engagements, publications, and residencies in performance series and universities. Especially noted for his insights in the works of Beethoven, Schubert, and Russian repertoire, Mr. Bognár has been selected by the Wilhelm Kempff Foundation to present six Beethoven sonatas and two concerti on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, October 2013.
Mr. Bognár is a student of Sergei Babayan. He has received both bachelor and master degrees in music from the Cleveland Institute of Music.