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Jeffrey Biegel

  • Pianist


Jeffrey Biegel's recording of Leroy Anderson's 'Concerto in C' with Leonard Slatkin conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra for Naxos celebrates the 2008 centennial of Leroy Anderson's birth. Koch International Classics also releases his solo recording of 'Classical Carols' in 2007. Mr. Biegel is currently assembling a worldwide consortium project for William Bolcom's 'Choral Fantasy for Piano, Orchestra and Chorus' for the 2010-11 season.

The career of pianist Jeffrey Biegel has been marked by bold, creative achievements and highlighted by a series of firsts: He envisioned and performed the first live internet recitals in New York and Amsterdam in 1997 and 1998. In 1999, he assembled the largest consortium of orchestras (over 25), to celebrate the millennium with a new concerto composed for him by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. The 'Millennium Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra' was premiered with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In 1997, he performed the Boston premiere of the restored, original 1924 manuscript of George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' with the Boston Pops. He transcribed Mily Balakirev's 'Islamey Fantasy' for piano and orchestra, which he premiered with the American Symphony Orchestra in 2001 (available through Theodroe Presser Inc.).

Charles Strouse's 'Concerto America', composed for Mr. Biegel, premiered with the Boston Pops in 2002. He also arranged the piano part for Billy Joel's 'Symphonic Fantasies' in 2006, which he premiered at the Eastern Music Festival, the Boris Brott Festival and US orchestras including the Indianapolis and Harrisburg symphony orchestras. Mr. Biegel assembled the first global commissioning project featuring 18 orchestras performing Lowell Liebermann's 'Concerto no. 3 for Piano and Orchestra' composed exclusively for him for the 2006-07-08 seasons. The World Premiere took place with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andreas Delfs on May 12-14, 2006. The European Premiere featured the Schleswig Holstein Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gerard Oskamp in February 2007. Until the age of 3, Mr. Biegel was unable to hear nor speak, until corrected by surgery. The 'reverse Beethoven' phenomenon can explain Mr. Biegel's life in music, having heard only vibrations in his formative years.

Born a second-generation American, Mr. Biegel's roots are of Russian and Austrian heritage. A Russian cousin, pianist Herman Kosoff, emigrated to the United States in the early 20th century, and had been accepted into the class of the great Leopold Godowsky in Austria. Mr. Biegel's grandmother's cousin, Dr. Sonia Slatin,was a graduate of Columbia University who actively performed and also taught Schenkerian analysis at Brooklyn College. American composer Richard Danielpour composes a new concerto for Mr. Biegel, also for piano and orchestra, slated for the fall of 2009 with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Carl St. Clair. In addition, American composer, Daniel Dorff's 'Concerto for Piano and Orchestra', composed for Mr. Biegel, premiered with the Etowah Youth Orchestra in Gadsden, Alabama, in May 2007, Mike Gagliardo conducting.

Mr. Biegel performed Leroy Anderson's 'Concerto in C' with the Boston Pops conducted by Keith Lockhart in Boston's Symphony Hall, as well as with the New York Pops in Carnegie Hall for the New York premiere of this work. In addition, he substituted for the late pianist John Browning to perform the World Premiere of Marjorie Rusche's 'Dreaming the Rag Waltz Blues' and Beethoven's 'Concerto no. 1 in C Major' with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tsung Yeh. During a tour of Germany, he performed the World Premiere of Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons for Piano and String Orchestra' with members of the Schleswig Holstein Symphony Orchestra.

As an editor and composer, Schirmer has published Mr. Biegel's editions of Schumann's 'Scenes from Childhood', and a new 'Sonatina Album' for the Schirmer Performance Editions Series. Mr. Biegel and his son, Craig, co-composed 'The World In Our Hands', published by the Hal Leonard Corporation. It reflects the events of 9-11 with a vision for hope and peace, and has been performed in Africa, Ireland, and throughout the U.S. The Hal Leonard Corporation has also published 'Christmas In A Minute', an SATB choral version of Chopin's 'Minute Waltz' as well as his arrangement of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' for SATB divisi a cappella choir. The orchestration for 'Christmas In A Minute' by Kermit Poling is available through MMB Music, which can be performed by soloist and orchestra, or with choir and orchestra. Mr. Biegel received a commission to compose a new work for SSA choir with the chosen text, 'Hey Ho, The Wind and the Rain' from William Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night', and is published by the Hal Leonard Corporation. 'Hey Ho, The Wind and the Rain' is featured on a new cd recorded by Voci Nobili, the prize-winning Norwegian women's choir conducted by Maria Helbekkmo.

Voci Nobili also performed the work in New York's Merkin Hall. His most recent choral compositions include an arrangement of 'The Christmas Song' for SATB a cappella choir, and both 'Ho Ho Hanukah, Ho Ho Christmas' and 'A Different Kind of Hero' will be published by Carl Fischer Inc. Earthsongs also publishes 'Elegy of Anne Boleyn'. In addition, Artaria publishes his edition of Cesar Cui's '25 Preludes' (cd available through Naxos) and Antoine Reicha's 'Symphonie Concertante pour Deux Violoncelles et Orchestre'. Mr. Biegel's Swiss debut featured Duke Ellington's 'New World A-Comin'' with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva, Pinchas Steinberg conducting. On January 8, 2001, he appeared on ABC-TV's Good Morning America, followed by a performance with the American Symphony Orchestra led by the late Vahktang Jordania in New York's Avery Fisher Hall. The program featured the World Premiere of Mr. Biegel's transcription of Mily Balakirev's 'Islamey Fantasy' for piano and orchestra, the restored original 1924 manuscript of George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's 'Peanuts Gallery'. PianoDisc (the player piano system manufacturer) has released Mr. Biegel's recording,

'Rare Gems of the Golden Age', 'Best of David Foster', 'Best of Josh Groban', and releases 'Classical Carols' in 2007 along with IQ dvd videos featuring works by Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt. In addition, his solo transcription of the complete 'Four Seasons' by Vivaldi with Grieg's 'Suite in the Antique Style (Holberg)' is avaliable for the Yamaha Corporation's downloadable PianoSoft product for disklavier. Naxos releases Mr. Biegel's solo Vivaldi transcription recording in 2008. In 1997, he performed the original 1924 manuscript of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' with the Boston Pops (covered by CNN, ABC-TV, NPR, CBC Canada, Associated Press and USA Today). He has subsequently performed the 1924 manuscript with orchestras across the United States, including the St. Louis Symphony, and the Israel Chamber Orchestra conducted by Philippe Entremont at the Kravis Center (West Palm Beach, Fla.).

He has also presented the German Premiere of the work with the Bochumer Symphoniker led by Steven Sloane and the Scandinavian Premiere with the Bergen Philharmonic led by Michael Stern in Norway, April 2001. Mr. Biegel performed the first global real audio/video cybercast piano recital in July 1997 from New York's Steinway Hall (featured in The New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Report syndicated TV feature). He subsequently performed the first European real audio/video cybercast piano recital from Amsterdam. The New York recital was released originally on the Angelok1 label, and is now available at Sought after by today's composers to present their own new works, Mr. Biegel has recorded the World Premiere of composer Lalo Schifrin's 'Piano Concerto No. 2 - The Americas' with the Bayerischer Rundfunk (Munich Radio Orchestra). This is featured in the current motion picture soundtrack titled Something to Believe In, released on Aleph Records.In addition, he has performed with many of the world's leading orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and the National Symphony Orchestras, the Tokyo, New Japan, Hong Kong, Oslo, Bergen, Buffalo and BBC Philharmonics, Singapore Symphony, Danish National Radio Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, Orchestre de Monte Carlo, Orchestre de Radio France, Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux, Palermo's Orchestra della Teatro Massimo, Turkey's Istanbul Symphony, Presidential Symphony Orchestra, Izmir Symphony and the Ensemble Orchestral de France in Paris' Theatre des Champs-Elysées.

In 1985, Leonard Bernstein said of pianist Jeffrey Biegel: 'He played fantastic Liszt. He is a splendid musician and a brilliant performer.' These comments helped to launch Mr. Biegel's 1986 New York recital debut, as the recipient of the coveted Juilliard William Petschek Piano Debut Award, in Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts' Alice Tully Hall. He has been heard in recital in New York, Boston, Washington DC, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Cincinnati, London, Paris, Tokyo, Oslo, Mexico City, plus a multi-city tour of Norway. Jeffrey Biegel was the unanimous recipient of the prestigious First Grand Prize in the 1989 Marguerite Long International Piano Competition and the First Prize in the 1985 William Kapell/University of Maryland International Piano Competition. He studied at The Juilliard School with the legendary artist/teacher Adele Marcus, herself a pupil of Josef Lhevinne and Artur Schnabel. He made his New York orchestral debut performing Prokofiev's 'Concerto no. 2 in g minor' with the Juilliard Philharmonia, in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall.

Mr. Biegel is currently on the piano faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, a City University of New York (CUNY), and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He resides in New York with his wife, Sharon, and their sons Craig and Evan.