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Dame Mitsuko Uchida (Japanese pronunciation: [miꜜtsu͍̥ko u͍ꜜtɕida]), DBE (内田光子), born December 20, 1948, is a Japanese naturalized-British classical pianist generally regarded as one of the finest of her era. She has appeared with most of the world's foremost orchestras, recorded a wide repertory with major labels, won numerous awards and honors (including Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2009), and serves as co-director of the Marlboro Music School and Festival. In recent years, she has also conducted major orchestras.
Born in Atami, a seaside town close to Tokyo, Japan, Uchida moved to Vienna, Austria, with her diplomat parents when she was 12 years old, after her father was named the Japanese ambassador to Austria. She enrolled at the Vienna Academy of Music to study with Richard Hauser, and later Wilhelm Kempff and Stefan Askenase, and remained in Vienna to study when her father was transferred back to Japan after five years. She gave her first Viennese recital at the age of 14 at the Vienna Musikverein. She also studied with Maria Curcio, the last and favourite pupil of Artur Schnabel.
In 1969 she won the first prize in the Beethoven Competition in Vienna and in 1970 the second prize in the International Chopin Piano Competition. In 1975, she won second prize in the Leeds Piano Competition.
She is an acclaimed interpreter of the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Debussy and Schoenberg. She has recorded all of Mozart's piano sonatas (a project that won the Gramophone Award), and concerti, the latter with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jeffrey Tate. Her recording of the Schoenberg Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez won another Gramophone Award. She is further noted for her recordings of Beethoven's complete piano concerti with Kurt Sanderling conducting, Beethoven's late piano sonatas, and a Schubert piano cycle. She is distinguished as an interpreter of the works of the Second Viennese School. Her 2009 recording of the Mozart Piano Concertos nos. 23 and 24, in which she conducted the Cleveland Orchestra as well as playing the solo part, won the Grammy Award.
From 2002 to 2007 she served as artist-in-residence for the Cleveland Orchestra, where she led performances of all of Mozart's solo piano concertos. She has also conducted the English Chamber Orchestra, among others, from the keyboard. In 2010, she was artist-in-residence for the Berlin Philharmonic. She is one two Artistic Directors of the Marlboro Music School and Festival, along with fellow pianist Richard Goode. She is also a trustee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, an organization established to help young artists develop and sustain international careers. In May 2012, the Royal Philharmonic Society announced that she would be honored with their Gold Medal (she received the society's annual Music Award in 2003); previous recipients have included Johannes Brahms (1877), Frederick Delius and Sir Edward Elgar (1925), Richard Strauss (1936), Igor Stravinsky (1954), Benjamin Britten and Leonard Bernstein (1987).
Honours and awards
- 1986 Suntory Music Award.
- 1989: Gramophone Award for Best Instrumental Recording, for her set of the complete Piano Sonatas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- 2001: Appointed Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2001 New Year Honours. At the time, the award was honorary because she was not yet a citizen of the United Kingdom.
- 2001: Gramophone Award for Best Concerto Recording, for her recording of the Piano Concerto of Arnold Schoenberg (with Pierre Boulez conducting)
- 2008: In April, BBC Music Magazine presented her its Instrumentalist of the Year and Disc of the Year awards.
- 2009: She was promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours. On this occasion, the award was substantive, as she had become a British citizen.
- 2009: In June, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music (DMus) degree by the University of Oxford during Encaenia 2009.
- 2011: Grammy award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra) for her recording of Mozart's Piano Concerti No. 23 K. 488 and No. 24 K. 491 with the Cleveland Orchestra, which she conducted from the keyboard.
- 2012: in May, Uchida was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal, one of the highest honors in classical music.
- "Uchida, Mitsuko", Grove Music Online, 2007. Accessed June 3, 2007.
- The Guardian, 14 April 2009
- Telegraph, 7 April 2009
- Hunt, Brian, "Rekindling the very grandest of passions", Daily Telegraph, April 2, 2001. Accessed September 22, 2009.
- "About Us", Marlboro Music School and Festival Official Website, 2007. Accessed June 3, 2007.
- Erica Jeal: "Musical moments" (The Guardian, February 25, 2006). Accessed September 21, 2009.
- BBC News, 30 December 2000
- The London Gazette: . June 13, 2009.
- Honorary awards are specifically listed as such, and are not usually gazetted
- "Oxford University Gazette, 5 February 2009"
- "BBC News, 4 May 2102
- Erica Jeal, 'Musical moments' (profile of Mitsuko Uchida), The Guardian, February 25, 2006. Accessed February 1, 2008.
- Allan Kozinn, 'A Keyboard Alchemist Exploring the Haze', New York Times, April 29, 2005. Accessed February 1, 2008.
- Transcript: 'Mitsuko Uchida', The Music Show, ABC (Australia), July 1, 2006. Accessed February 1, 2008.
- Andrew Lindemann Malone, 'From Pianist Uchida, Daring, Intense Mozart', The Washington Post, November 17, 2005, Page C02. Accessed February 1, 2008.
- Mitsuko Uchida
- Borletti-Buitoni Trust