Stephen Kovacevich was born under the name Stephen Bishop to a Croatian father and an American mother. He began his piano studies with Lev Schorr in 1948, and in 1951, at the age of 11, made his public concert debut in San Francisco. When he was 14, he played Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major and Robert Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. In 1959 he went to London on a scholarship to pursue his piano training with Dame Myra Hess. A highly influential teacher, Myra Hess recognised and encouraged Kovacevich's affinity with L.v. Beethoven's music, particularly the works from his late period.
After moving to England to study with Dame Myra Hess, Stephen made his European debut at Wigmore Hall in 1961. Since then he has appeared with many of the world’s finest orchestras and conductors including Hans Graf, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Masur, Simon Rattle, Georg Solti and Yannick Nezet-Seguin. In addition, he has forged many longstanding professional relationships, most notably with Colin Davis with whom he made numerous outstanding recordings, including the legendary Bartok Piano Concerto No.2 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Duo performance with Martha Argerich include the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Philharmonie de Paris, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Victoria Hall in Geneva, Flagey in Brussels and the Gulbenkian in Lisbon. Recent and upcoming recital highlights include the Mariinsky International Piano Festival (by invitation of Valery Gergiev), Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, the prestigious Phillips Collection in Washington, the Singapore International Piano Festival, the renowned Pyeong Chang ‘Great Mountains’ Festival in South Korea (with Kyung-Wha Chung), the Beijing National Centre for Performing Arts, the Les Rencontres Musicales d’Évian festival, and the Istanbul Recital Series. In 2019 Stephen will also undertake extensive recital tours to the Far East, Australia and New Zealand. Further recital highlights include Paris, Berlin, Geneva, Luzern, Boston, Zagreb, Mumbai, Dublin and Cardiff, alongside two live BBC Radio 3 broadcasts from St George’s Hall, Bristol and Wigmore Hall. In addition, Stephen is a regular soloist at the Verbier and Lugano festivals. He also appeared at the 2016 Buxton International Festival, the Settimane Musicali Festival in Ascona (for a solo and chamber performance with Alina Ibragimova and Francesco Piemontesi) and made a welcome return to the 2016 Le Domaine Forget Festival in Quebec.
Recent and upcoming concerto highlights include debut performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla), the Orquestra Camera Musicae, Barcelona, the Aurora Orchestra (Nicholas Collon), Turkish National Yourh Orchestra (Cem Mansur), Belgrade Philharmonic (Eiji Oue), Sofia Philharmonic, a triumphant return to Montreal Symphony Orchestra (David Zinman), Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (Sylvain Cambreling), Malaysian Philharmonic (Jacek Kaspszyk), Orchestre de chambre de Paris (John Nelson) and Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Vladimir Ashkenazy).
Stephen is a committed chamber musician who has collaborated with Jacqueline du Pré, Martha Agerich, Steven Isserlis, Nicola Benedetti, Nigel Kennedy, Lynn Harrell, Gautier Capuçon, Renaud Capuçon, Kyung-Wha Chung, Truls Mørk, Emmanuel Pahud, Anna Larsson, Alina Ibragimova, Philippe Graffin, Joseph Suk and the Amadeus, Belcea and-Cleveland Quartets.
Stephen Kovacevich has enjoyed an illustrious long-term relationship with recording companies Philips and EMI. To celebrate his 75th birthday, Decca has released a Limited Edition 25 CD Box Set of his entire recorded legacy for Philips. In 2008 Stephen Kovacevich recorded Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations exactly 40 years after his first recording of the work. This Onyx recording won him the 2009 Classic FM Gramophone Editor’s Choice Award and the ‘Top Choice’ by Gramophone Magazine in September 2015, to quote: “his seasoned yet fearless mastery reveals something new with each hearing”.
- Last Update : 07.02.2019