Max Levinson, piano
Pianist Max Levinson is known as an intelligent and sensitive artist with a fearless technique. Levinson’s career was launched when he won First Prize at the Guardian Dublin International Piano Competition, the first American to achieve this distinction. He received overwhelming critical acclaim for his two solo recordings on N2K Encoded Music, and was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. In 2005, he was given the Andrew Wolf Award for his chamber music playing. The Boston Globe proclaimed: “The questioning, conviction, and feeling in his playing invariably reminds us of the deep reasons why music is important to us, why we listen to it, why we care so much about it”.
Max Levinson has performed as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, New World Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Oregon Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Boston Pops, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland among others. He has worked with such conductors as Robert Spano, Neemi Järvi, Uriel Segal, Joseph Swensen, Jeffrey Kahane and Alasdair Neale. Recital appearances include Washington Performing Arts Society’s “Kreeger String & Hayes Piano Series” at the Kennedy Center, Tonhalle Orchester Zurich’s “Competition Winner Series,” Ravinia’s “Rising Stars,” Lincoln Center’s “What Makes it Great” and the FleetBank Boston “Emerging Artists Series.”
Artistic Director of the San Juan Chamber Music Festival (in Ouray, Colorado) and former Co-Artistic Director of the Janus 21 Concert Series in Cambridge, Massachussetts, Max Levinson is an active chamber musician. He has collaborated with such renowned artists as the Tokyo Quartet, Vermeer Quartet, Borromeo Quartet, Mendelssohn Quartet, the Jacques Thibaud String Trio, Benita Valente, Richard Stoltzman, Pinchas Zukerman, Joseph Silverstein, Stefan Jackiw, Young Uck Kim, Arnold Steinhardt, David Finckel, Daniel Phillips, Nathaniel Rosen, Carter Brey, Allison Eldredge, Alisa Weilerstein, Christopheren Nomura, and Heiichiro Ohyama. He has appeared at major music festivals including Mostly Mozart, Santa Fe, Marlboro, Tanglewood, La Jolla, Bravo/Vail, Seattle, Killington, Vancouver, Cartagena, and Switzerland’s Davos Festival.
Max Levinson’s debut recitals at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and London’s Wigmore Hall as the Guardian Competition winner were critical successes and received standing ovations. He performed ambitious programs, which included works by Bartók, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Schönberg, Schubert and Kirchner. Of the New York debut performance, The New York Times wrote that Levinson’s “quietly eloquent conceptions, formidable technique and lovely touch left little else to be desired.”
Max Levinson garnered international accolades for his two recordings. Max Levinson , his debut recording released immediately following his triumph in Dublin, is an extraordinarily thoughtful program that traces the musical lineage between Brahms, Schumann, Schönberg and Kirchner. The Los Angeles Times deemed Mr. Levinson “a brilliant American pianist, musically mature and fully formed technically. More important, he uses his wide spectrum of pianistic mechanics for altogether poetic ends, touching the listener deeply and often.” American Record Guide declared Levinson’s second disc, Out of Doors: Piano Music of Béla Bartók “an important recording and a great one. The disc blew me out of my chair, and it has taken me a long time to get back up. Hearing performances as riveting as these produces a rare frisson; indeed, this is the most brilliant and exciting Bartók piano disc I have heard. On the basis of only two recordings, Mr. Levinson has created the myth of a pianist with everything.” His recording of Leon Kirchner’s “Five Pieces for Piano” was chosen for the composer’s complete works recording (Albany Records), alongside recordings by Leon Fleisher and Peter Serkin.
His most recent recording is of the Brahms Sonatas for Violin and Piano, with violinist Stefan Jackiw (Sony Classical). He has also recorded the Brahms Horn Trio with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival for the Stereophile label, and the violin sonatas of Debussy, Janácek, and Prokofiev with violinist Andrew Kohji Taylor for Warner Classics. Upcoming recording projects include the complete piano music of Bruce Sutherland.
Strongly committed to nurturing young audiences, Max Levinson has been a participant in the Grammy-in-the-Schools program throughout the United States and in other outreach performances in numerous cities. He has experimented with Internet broadcast, served as Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Lowell House for four years, and has been featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today” and “A Note to You.” Mr. Levinson serves on the boards of the Aube Tzerko Piano Institute and AMRON (Artists Musicians Recital Opportunity Network). In 2000, he was asked by the Millennium Committee of Ireland to design a National Education Initiative, and gave a televised masterclass as part of the project. He has also taught masterclasses at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Harvard, MIT, Brigham Young University, Rutgers, the University of Washington, UCLA, the Colburn School, Boston University, the Music Teacher’s Association of California annual convention and in various cities throughout the U.S. In 1997, he was named “Best Debut Artist” by The Boston Globe and was added to Steinway’s distinguished roster of artists.
He is on the faculty of both the New England Conservatory and the Boston Conservatory, where his students have achieved success in numerous competitions. He also teaches at the Foulger International Music Festival, and was formerly on the applied music faculty of Brown University.
He has recently become active as a conductor, and his performances as conductor of the Killington Music Festival and Foulger Chamber Orchestra have resulted in standing ovations and return engagements.
Born in the Netherlands and raised in Los Angeles, Max Levinson began studying piano at age five. His first teachers were Bruce Sutherland and Aube Tzerko, and as a child he also studied cello, composition and conducting. He attended Harvard University, graduating cum laude with a degree in English Literature, and later completed his graduate studies with Patricia Zander at the New England Conservatory of Music, receiving an Artist Diploma and the Gunther Schuller Medal, an award given to the school’s top graduate student. Max Levinson currently lives in the Boston area with his wife, cellist Allison Eldredge and their two daughters, Natalie and Jessica.
→ More info may be found on Max’s website.