Mitsuko Uchida

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Dame Mitsuko Uchida (Japanese: [miꜜtsu͍̥ko u͍ꜜtɕida]), DBE (内田光子?), born 20 December 1948, is a classical pianist, born in Japan and naturalised in Britain. She has appeared with most of the world's foremost orchestras, recorded a wide repertory with major labels, won numerous awards and honours (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,[1] 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.[2][3]

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.[1]

In 1998 Uchida was the Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival in conjunction with conductor and violinist, David Zinman.

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 in 1989), 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.[4] 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. This recording was the start of a project to record all the Mozart piano concertos for a second time, conducting the Cleveland Orchestra from the piano. Further recordings for this project were released in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

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 was senior artist at the Marlboro Music School and Festival in 1974 and 1992, and has been permanently associated with Marlboro since 1994 when she became a member of the Committee for Artistic Direction. In 1999 she became one of two Artistic Directors along with fellow pianist Richard Goode. Since 2013 she has been sole Artistic Director.[5] She is also a founding trustee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, an organisation established to help young artists develop and sustain international careers.[6] In May 2012, the Royal Philharmonic Society announced that she would be honoured 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).

Uchida currently resides in London. Her long-standing partner, Sir Robert Cooper, currently works for the European Union in Brussels.[7]

Honours and awards[edit]

  • 2008: In April, BBC Music Magazine presented her its Instrumentalist of the Year and Disc of the Year awards.


  1. ^ a b "Uchida, Mitsuko", Grove Music Online, 2007. Accessed 3 June 2007.
  2. ^ The Guardian, 14 April 2009
  3. ^ Telegraph, 7 April 2009
  4. ^ Hunt, Brian, "Rekindling the very grandest of passions", Daily Telegraph, 2 April 2001. Accessed 22 September 2009.
  5. ^ "Mitsuko Uchida, Artistic Director" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 3, 2015), Marlboro Music School and Festival Official Website, 2015. Accessed 3 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Borletti-Buitoni Trust: Making a Difference". Southbank Centre. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Erica Jeal: "Musical moments" (The Guardian, 25 February 2006). Accessed 21 September 2009.
  8. ^ BBC News, 30 December 2000
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59090. p. 7. 13 June 2009.
  10. ^ Honorary awards are specifically listed as such, and are not usually gazetted
  11. ^ "Oxford University Gazette, 5 February 2009"
  12. ^ "BBC News, 4 May 2102
  13. ^

External links[edit]