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Biography

The breadth of Charles Rosen's endeavors reflects a remarkable synthesis of performing musician, scholar, writer and lecturer.   His two most celebrated books, The Classical Style and The Romantic Generation, are considered classics in their field.  First and foremost, however, Mr. Rosen remains one of the most widely respected pianists of our time, internationally acclaimed for his performances and recordings of a diverse repertoire ranging from Bach to today's most important composers. In recognition, Mr. Rosen was named 2008 Instrumentalist of the Year by Musical America.

Mr. Rosen's unique combination of musical sensitivity and powerful intelligence produces interpretations of exceptional understanding and impact.  He has been hailed by The Boston Globe as an "explosively intelligent musician who can convey his ideas with an almost chilling precision of execution but who can play with all the silkiness of sound and subtlety of rubato of the great romantic virtuosos "and by the Frankfurter Allgemaine Zeitung, which wrote, "Rosen's piano playing is riveting in the way it combines formal clarity and musical insight with an uncommon gestural and speech-like expressiveness."

Mr. Rosen has been heard in major concert halls and at leading festivals throughout the world, and he continues to perform in music capitals at home and abroad.  At Queen Elizabeth Hall, where he recently performed Beethoven's Appassionata sonata Op. 57 and the Diabelli Variations, The Independent wrote that "Rosen cast a spell of mystery and tension, of a vision understood," and in New York, where Mr. Rosen performed Beethoven three last sonatas, The New York Times said, "...his detailed playing did justice to the broad range and daunting strangeness of what are essentially inner dialogues."  In tribute to his 80th birthday in 2007 the University of Rochester Press published "Variations on the Canon: Essays on Music from Bach to Boulez in Honor of Charles Rosen on His Eightieth Birthday," a series of essays and articles by many of Mr. Rosen's admirers, including Pierre Boulez, Elliott Carter, Philip Gossett, and Sir Charles Mackerras.

A longtime champion of the music of Elliott Carter, whose work Mr. Rosen has championed throughout his career, he participated in several of Mr. Carter's 100th birthday celebrations, including performances of Carter's Night Fantasies, a work commissioned by four pianists, including Mr. Rosen himself, at Tanglewood and Ravinia.  This season he celebrates the 200th birthdays of Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann with performances of Chopin's late sonatas and all 20 of Schumann's Dicterliebe with tenor Christoph Genz.

Charles Rosen's wide-ranging discography includes works by Bach, Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Liszt, Chopin, Schumann, Martin?, Debussy, Ravel, Bartók, and Schönberg, and several important composers, including Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez, and Elliott Carter, have called upon Mr. Rosen to record their works. He also participated in a recording of the complete piano, vocal and chamber works of Anton Webern in collaboration with Isaac Stern, Heather Harper, and Gregor Piatigorsky. 

A writer of extraordinary perception in the fields of music, art, literature and intellectual history, Mr. Rosen's best-known book, The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, won the National Book Award for Arts and Letters and has been translated into seven languages.  The expanded edition of this volume, featuring a new chapter on Beethoven accompanied by a recording of Beethoven's Sonatas Op. 106 and 110, was published in 1997 by W.W. Norton.  

When Critical Entertainments, a collection of 18 insightful essays covering such subjects as Brahms, Mozart, opera, and stage fright, was published by Harvard University Press in 2000, the Financial Times wrote: "When the Muses were dispensing their gifts-musical skills to one person, literary ability to another, intellectual gusto to a third-they must have met in the middle of their rounds over Rosen and emptied their satchels on his head."

Mr. Rosen's writings have been recognized widely.  He was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for Piano Notes: The Hidden Life of the Pianist, a history/memoir published by Free Press in 2002; a Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism by the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop of the University of Iowa for Romantic Poets, Critics and Other Madmen; a ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Arnold Schoenberg; and a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Sonata Forms, among others. 

In addition, Mr. Rosen's articles, which appear regularly in The New York Review of Books and other publications, display much of the clarity, wit and penetrating insights that are hallmarks of his keyboard performances.  Mr. Rosen's newest book is Music and Sentiment published by Yale University Press in June 2010

Following in the tradition of such illustrious predecessors as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, T.S. Eliot, and Robert Frost, Charles Rosen held the prestigious Charles Eliot Norton Chair of Poetics at Harvard University.  An expanded version of his series of six Norton Lectures, entitled The Romantic Generation: Music 1827-1850, was published in 1995 by Harvard University Press, and received the Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society for the year's most distinguished work of musical scholarship.  This comprehensive volume, accompanied by a compact disc featuring Mr. Rosen's performances of works discussed in the text, earned the highest critical praise: The New York Times Book Review described it as "a rarity: a work of detailed musical analysis that combines profound scholarship with artistic intuition."  The book, also published in France by Gallimard, integrates Mr. Rosen's observations on the music of Schumann, Chopin, Liszt and other Romantic composers with reflections on the art, literature, drama and philosophy of the period.  To complement the book, MusicMasters released a recording, also entitled The Romantic Generation, which includes Mr. Rosen's performances of Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze, Liszt's Reminiscences of Don Juan, and short works by Chopin and Liszt. 

Charles Rosen was born in New York City, and by the age of four had begun to pick out tunes he heard his mother playing.  His parents enrolled him at The Juilliard School of Music when he was six, and the following year he played for the famed pianist Leopold Godowsky, who was astonished at the young boy's facility.  At 11, Mr. Rosen left Juilliard to study with Moriz Rosenthal, a pupil of Liszt, and with Rosenthal's wife, Hedwig Kanner, a pupil of Leschetizky, thus inheriting the great Romantic piano tradition in a direct line from some of its most illustrious proponents.  A Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of Princeton, Charles Rosen studied French literature in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar and went on to earn both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in French literature.  He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Award and was twice named by Phi Beta Kappa as a Visiting Scholar.  In 1951, the year he completed his doctoral work at Princeton, Mr. Rosen received widespread critical acclaim for his New York debut, which launched his performing career.  That same year he made his first recording, the world premiere on disk of Debussy's Études.

Charles Rosen has held distinguished chairs and visiting professorships at leading universities in the United States and abroad, including Harvard, the University of Chicago, Oxford University, and the University of California, where he delivered the Ernest Bloch lectures. Among his many other awards are Princeton University's James Madison Medal, an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Cambridge University and the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America from the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University.

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