John Browning
piano | United States of America, °1933 - 2003
 
PIANO 1956 : Second Prize
In the tradition of the great Romantic pianists, John Browning (1933-2003) earned a distinguished reputation for his exceptional interpretive gifts, technical mastery of keyboard color and sonority, and deep commitment to music. He was considered one of the most important and extraordinarily compelling virtuoso performers of his time. He was an American luminary of musical greatness, impressing audiences and critics with his passion, integrity, and probing musical imagination in an extensive repertoire that ranges from Bach and Scarlatti to 20th-century composers.
His highly acclaimed recordings, which garnered three Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards, along with a number of significant compositions that were written for and expressly dedicated to him by renowned composers, further illustrate the superlative breath of his artistic scope.

Since his triumphant debut in 1956 with the New York Philharmonic, John Browning appeared in virtually every music capital of the world, amassing accolades for his solo recitals, concerto appearances and recordings. He performed and recorded a broad spectrum of works spanning three centuries from Mozart to the grand virtuoso masterpieces of Beethoven, Brahms, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Tchaikovsky -- including 43 concertos. In addition to championing the works of Samuel Barber, with whom he had long been associated, he premiered and recorded works by the contemporary American composer, Richard Cumming.

John Browning concertized regularly in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, South America, New Zealand, and Australia, and toured the Soviet Union on four occasions. In North America, he appeared regularly with the symphonies of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Toronto, and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. Performances abroad with European orchestras included the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, London Philharmonic, London and Scottish National Symphony Orchestras, and most recently, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic with Andrew Davis.

He collaborated with Leonard Slatkin at both the Wolf Trap and Blossom Music Festivals, Pinchas Zukerman at the Ravinia Festival, the Tokyo String Quartet at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, and Robert Spano and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. He was also a favorite at other American music festivals and was frequently heard at the Hollywood Bowl, Caramoor International, Grant Park, Saratoga, Newport, Rockport, Seattle International, St. Charles Art & Music, Minnesota Orchestra Summerfest, and the Peninsula Music Festival.

Born in Denver, Colorado, in 1933 to a violinist father and a pianist mother, John Browning began piano studies at age five and gave his first public appearance as soloist with the Denver Symphony at age ten. He subsequently moved to New York City to pursue his musical studies on scholarship with Rosina Lhevinne at The Juilliard School. He rapidly gained prominence by winning the Steinway Centennial Award in 1954, the Leventritt Competition in 1955, and placing second the following year in the Queen Elisabeth Competition. Widespread attention continued when he made his professional orchestral debut in 1956 in a critically acclaimed performance with the New York Philharmonic and Dimitri Mitropoulos, which not only launched his career internationally, but also inspired Samuel Barber to write a piano concerto for him.

Six years later, in 1962, John Browning was chosen to give the world-premiere of Samuel Barber's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony at the inaugural celebration of New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Written especially for John Browning, the piece was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and has since become the most frequently performed American piano concerto in the past half-century -- no other has been so firmly ensconced in the literature. He first recorded the work in 1964 with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra for the CBS Masterworks label. A new recording with Leonard Slatkin conducting the St. Louis Symphony was released in 1991 by BMG Classics/RCA Victor Red Seal. This earned him his first Grammy Award for "Best Instrumental Soloist With Orchestra" and a Grammy nomination for "Best Classical Album."

John Browning also recorded for MusicMasters, and a disc of the complete Barber solo piano repertoire, released in 1993, earned him a second Grammy Award for "Best Classical Instrumental Soloist Without Orchestra." Additional releases for that label included an all-Scarlatti disc in 1994, followed by a recording of two Mozart Concerti with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and Julius Rudel the next year, and a recording of the Brahms Piano Quintet and Horn Trio with John Browning and members of the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble.

In 1994, Deutsche Grammophone released John Browning's recording of the complete Barber songs with soprano Cheryl Studer and baritone Thomas Hampson. A highly acclaimed recording of the Beethoven "Triple" Concerto with violinist Pinchas Zukerman, cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, and Christoph Eschenbach conducting the London Symphony Orchestra was released in 1998 by BMG Classics/RCA Victor Red Seal. Additional listings in John Browning's discography include three recordings on the Delos label devoted to the music of Liszt, Mussorgsky and Rachmaninoff. He can also be heard on the Capital, RCA, Phoenix and Seraphim labels, which include the complete Chopin Etudes, all five of the Prokofiev piano concerti, and the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1. Recordings of Richard Cumming's Twenty-Four Preludes and Silhouettes, written for and dedicated to John Browning, were released on the CRI label.
Audio
Program
Final (30/05/1956)
Samuel Barber Sonata in E flat minor op. 26
René Defossez Concerto for piano and orchestra
Johannes Brahms Concerto n. 2 in B flat major op. 83
John Browning, piano
National Orchestra of Belgium, dir. Franz André
Relive the performances of Cello 2022
H.M. Queen Mathilde
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