“The Vienna-born pianist, now something of a national treasure in Canada, has an impeccable lineage, having studied with Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski. His playing is strikingly individual, yet honors the spirit of Horszowski’s teacher, the legendary Theodor Leschetizky: a focus on line and touch, a clear and flexible rhythm, a deeply analytical and exploratory approach. The latter quality was immediately apparent on Tuesday; not a note had been taken for granted, with even the most prosaic passages refracted through a powerful intellectual prism.” – The Boston Globe, March 2008
Anton Kuerti’s parents were scientists, academics and amateur musicians; his father was acquainted with Albert Einstein. He grew up in the United States and moved to Canada in 1965. In the U.S., he studied with its most notable teachers: Erwin Bodky, Ernö Balogh, Henry Cowell, Marcel Dick, Edward Goldman, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Arthur Loesser, Beryl Rubinstein, Rudolf Serkin, and Gregory Tucker.
His first appearance as a soloist was at age 11 performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 488. The following year, he performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. In 1957 he won the Philadelphia Orchestra Youth Prize, the National Music League Award and the prestigious Leventritt Award – which included concert engagements with the orchestras of New York, Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh. He was still a student at the time. The New York Times praised him for the “strength and accuracy of his technique” and the Herald Tribune glowingly reported that “the moment Anton Kuerti touches the keyboard, he unerringly unlocks the esprit of the music he performs.”
As a young piano student, Anton was strongly influenced by Arthur Loesser, whom he recalls as “my best teacher ever. Through him I learned a more joyful and exhilarating appreciation of a large range of music. The joy he experienced while playing was palpable, and he communicated this enthusiasm very effectively to his students.”
Anton followed this path to share the higher art without excessive concern for its commercial aspects. He lived his beliefs that classical music should be accessible. In addition to urban engagements, Anton built a reputation for charging low fees to small-town concert societies. As a result, he has played in many small halls in North America.
In the 1980s, he toured for many months by driving his piano in a specially converted van to Canada’s more isolated communities, where musicians of his stature rarely, if ever, appear. Anton was deeply moved while performing in Flin Flon, Manitoba, a remote mining town with a population of about 15,000, where 750 people attended his recital. And with his usual esprit de corps, he performed in the Queen Charlotte Islands because an elderly woman wrote to him, saying how much she enjoyed listening to him on the radio and asked him to come to her town.
Unsung, Anton has given benefit performances for numerous charitable organizations, including Oxfam, SOS Children’s Villages, United Nations Children’s Fund, Amnesty International, Pollution Probe, and WaterCan, donating 25% of CD sales directly to Oxfam.
Countries performed in:
Azerbaijan, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, (former) Czechoslovakia, England, Estonia, France, Germany–West and East, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Madeira, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, United States, Virgin Islands, (former) Yugoslavia. Has appeared in over 150 communities across Canada.
Major Orchestras performed with:
United States: New York Philharmonic, National Symphony, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver, Detroit Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Honolulu, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, Minneapolis Symphony, Houston, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Seattle Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra
Canada: Every professional orchestra including 55 concerts with Toronto Symphony and 2 European tours with National Arts Centre Orchestra
Other: London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Noord Nederlands Orkest, Austrian Radio Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Shanghai Philharmonic, Prague Spring Festival Orchestra, Portugal National Symphony, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, The Hague Philharmonic, Singapore National Orchestra, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra
Yehudi Menuhin, George Szell, Eugene Ormandy, Sir Andrew Davis, Kurt Masur, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Walter Susskind, Seiji Ozawa, Karel Ancerl, Boris Brott, Mario Bernardi, Pinchas Zukerman, Jens Nygaard, Charles Dutoit, Iván Fischer, Michel Tabachnik, Julian Kuerti, Alain Trudel, Sir Adrian Boult, Klaus Tennstedt, Paul Paray, Herbert Blomstedt, Kees Bakels, Franz Welser-Möst, Arvid Jansons, Hans Graf, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Johannes Fritzsch, Steven Smith, Günter Herbig
Dresden Statskapelle, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Concertgebouw, Berlin Philharmonie, Nieuwe Kerk [The Hague], Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Museum, Tschaikowskii Hall [Moscow], Smetana Hall [Prague], Royal Festival Hall [London], Queensland Performing Arts Centre [Brisbane]
Spoleto [Italy], Prague [Czech Republic], Dubrovnik [Croatia], Santa Fe, Grand Teton, Newport, Caramoor, Ravinia, Aspen, Marlboro [U.S.], Lofoten [Norway], Lockenhaus [Austria], Guelph Spring, Ottawa Chamber Music, Music Bridge, Fort McLeod [Canada], Northern Lights [Mexico]
Performances with Gidon Kremer, Yo-Yo Ma, Janos Starker, Barry Tuckwell, and Cleveland, Colorado, Guarneri, New Zealand, Orford, St. Lawrence, St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Fine Arts, Tokyo String, Vermeer, Tokai, Afiara, Alcan, Audubon, Da Ponte, Cecelia, Pacifica Quartets, Jacques Thibaud Trio, and New York Chamber Soloists
New Works Premieres:
Oskar Morawetz – Piano Concerto No. 1, 1963 with Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Sophie Eckhardt-Gramatté – Symphony-Concerto, 1968 with CBC Festival Orchestra
Srul Irving Glick – Northern Sketches for choir, violin, cello and piano 1982 Festival of the Sound
Beethoven/Kuerti – Piano Concerto in Eb major WoO 4, 2010 with National Broadcast Orchestra
Talivaldes Kenins – Piano Quintet
Larysa Kuzmenko – Entre Amis
Anton Kuerti – Piano Quintet – commissioned for Fort Macleod International Festival