New Haven, Connecticut – Morse Recital Hall is set to come alive on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. as world-famous classical pianist Boris Berman takes the stage to perform a captivating array of musical compositions by Mozart, Debussy, Schoenberg, and Prokofiev.
This eagerly anticipated concert is a part of the prestigious Horowitz Piano Series, which pays homage to the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz, who entrusted his archives to Yale before his passing. Dr. Boris Berman serves as the artistic director of this esteemed series and has graced every edition since its inception in the year 2000.
Dr. Berman’s illustrious career has made him a distinguished figure in the world of classical music. In addition to his role as a professor in the Practice of Piano and the head of the Piano Department, he has been a member of the School of Music faculty since 1984. The Boston Globe has hailed him as the “pianist’s pianist.” Born in Moscow, he has consistently performed across the globe, gracing stages on six continents and in over 50 countries.
Elisabeth Tsai, a student of Dr. Berman, aptly describes him as “one of the greatest living pianists in the world,” noting his profound influence on her generation of pianists. His expertise in performing the works of Prokofiev and Scriabin has established him as the gold standard in the field, with his recordings serving as a primary reference for pianists worldwide.
Dr. Berman’s contributions extend to the realm of recording as well. He holds the distinction of being the first pianist to record Prokofiev’s complete solo works. Presently, he is immersed in an ambitious recording project, referred to as the “dawn of modernism.” This project explores pieces composed in the 1910s and 1920s, illuminating how different composers of the era influenced subsequent generations.
Notably, despite his extensive performing and recording career, Dr. Berman confesses to still experiencing “terrible nervousness” before each performance. He views each concert as a unique opportunity to communicate his passion for music to the audience and embrace the spontaneity and improvisation that live performances offer.
For Dr. Berman, crafting a concert program is a deliberate and artful process. He considers various principles in programming, including monographic programming, exploring the influence of younger composers by their predecessors, creating contrast between pieces, and examining music from different countries during the same period.
His upcoming performance on Wednesday deftly encompasses these principles. The program will commence with Mozart’s Piano Sonata in B flat major, K. 333, and conclude with Prokofiev’s Fifth Sonata, a neoclassical masterpiece. Dr. Berman believes this “bookending” technique will offer insight into how Prokofiev modified classical principles established by Mozart.
The middle of the program delves into his “dawn of modernism” concept, featuring three pieces composed in the 1910s and 1920s: Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Piano (1923), Debussy’s “Six épigraphes antiques” (1914), and Prokofiev’s “Visions fugitives” (1917). These selections promise a captivating journey through the contrasting styles and influences of the era.
Dr. Berman’s impact extends far beyond the concert stage. His students, such as Elisabeth Tsai and Anthony Ratinov, speak of the profound influence he has had on their development as musicians and the nurturing environment he has fostered at the School of Music. Berman’s legacy now spans generations, with former students, Melvin Chen and Wei Yi Yang, assuming faculty positions at the School of Music.
The School of Music, with its increasingly competitive applicant pool, reflects Dr. Berman’s dedication to fostering collaboration between faculty and students and embracing diverse musical viewpoints. His dedication to his craft and his students is further exemplified through his publications, including “Notes from the Pianist’s Bench” and “Prokofiev’s Piano Sonatas: A Guide for the Listener and the Performer.”
Tickets for this remarkable concert start at $17, with reduced rates for Yale faculty and staff at $12, and students can avail tickets for $8. This is a unique opportunity to witness the artistry and intellectual depth of a living legend in the world of classical music.