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Yefim Bronfman to play Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 with the SSO

BY Katherine Stevenson | 20-Nov-2014
Multi-Grammy-Award-Winning pianist Yefim Bronfman will play the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra this month, conducted by acclaimed Scottish conductor Donald Runnicles. @sydsymph
Bronfman is widely regarded as one of the most talented virtuoso pianists performing today. His commanding technique and exceptional lyrical gifts have won him consistent critical acclaim and enthusiastic audiences worldwide.

Brahms’ first piano concerto was written in 1858 when the composer was still a young man. It has been described as a striking and youthful piece, where piano and orchestra seem involved at times in a titanic struggle.

The concerto is a favourite of the powerhouse pianist. “This music is so adventurous and so modern,” Bronfman says. “It always feels like playing new music.”

As well as consistently performing and recording with the world’s leading orchestras, Bronfman has given numerous solo recitals in the leading halls of North America, Europe and the Far East, including acclaimed debuts at Carnegie Hall in 1989 and Avery Fisher Hall in 1993. In 1991, he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, one of the highest honours given to American instrumentalists. In 2010, he was honoured as the recipient of the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance from Northwestern University.

Also known for his towering physique, Bronfman is a true force of nature, whose fame has reached beyond the musical world. He makes an appearance in Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, with the author describing him as “Bronfman the Brontosaur” and “Mr Fortissimo”.

And despite having an award-winning career spanning decades, Bronfman − who is known as “Fima” to his friends − says he is most proud of having a viticultural tribute to his name.

“I have to brag about something that’s much more important to me than anything else in my career: There is a wine named after me − Fimasaurus, a blend of cabernet and merlot produced by John Kongsgaard in Napa Valley,” he says. “He also has concerts − and you get paid in wine. You play for 400 people in a church in Napa and it’s all winemakers. They see a poor starving musician so they want to feed you and make sure you get a good drink.”

And as an added bonus – whenever Bronfman wins a Grammy – he gets an extra case of wine.

Born in Tashkent in the Soviet Union on 10 April 1958, Yefim Bronfman immigrated to Israel with his family in 1973, where he studied with pianist Arie Vardi, head of the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University. In the United States, he studied at The Juilliard School, Marlboro and the Curtis Institute, and with Rudolf Firkusny, Leon Fleisher and Rudolf Serkin. **