Preview: Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor, Op. 23

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Starring: Ben Schoeman (Pianist); Arjan Tien (Conductor); Chamber Orchestra of South Africa; Unisa Music Foundation; Sound Engineer - Derick Louw; Photography - Paul Kruger;

The Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bâ™­ minor, Op. 23, was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky between November 1874 and February 1875. It was revised in the summer of 1879 and again in December 1888. The first version received heavy criticism from Nikolai Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky's desired pianist. Rubinstein later repudiated his previous accusations and became a fervent champion of the work. It is one of the most popular of Tchaikovsky's compositions and among the best known of all piano concertos.

The South African pianist and Steinway Artist Ben Schoeman has won major prizes, including the first grand prize in the 11th UNISA Vodacom International Piano Competition, Pretoria (2008), the gold medal and Lorna Viol prize in the Royal Overseas League Music Competition, London (2009), the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music (2011) and the contemporary music prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition, USA (2013). In 2016, he was awarded the Huberte Rupert Prize from the South African Academy of Arts and Sciences for his contribution to music in his native country.
He has given solo, chamber music and concerto performances throughout Europe, Canada, the USA and South Africa in such prestigious concert halls as the Wigmore, Barbican, Cadogan and Queen Elizabeth Halls in London, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Gulbenkian Auditorium in Lisbon, Teatro del Giglio in Lucca, the Cape Town City Hall and the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest. He has performed at festivals in the United Kingdom (City of London, Edinburgh Fringe, King’s Lynn and Chester Festivals), Italy (Festival da Bach à Bartók and Festival Mario Ghislandi), South Africa (Grahamstown, KKNK and Woordfees), Romania (George Enescu Festival) and Canada (Ottawa Chamber Music Festival). He has recently appeared as soloist in Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto no. 1 with the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Hall in London. His critically-acclaimed renditions of Liszt’s Piano Concertos nos. 1 and 2 with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra are frequently broadcast on South African national television. He has performed with numerous conductors, including Nicholas Cleobury, Carlos Izcaray, James Judd, Gérard Korsten, Theodore Kuchar, Diego Masson, En Shao, Yasuo Shinozaki, Arjan Tien and Conrad van Alphen. He also regularly collaborates with pianist Tessa Uys and flautist Dawid Venter.
In collaboration with his duo partner, cellist Anzél Gerber, Ben Schoeman was awarded the first prize in the Ibla Grand Prize Competition in Italy. The duo performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and has received the gold medal in the Global Music Awards for their recording of music by Anton Rubinstein. The eminent South African composer Stefans Grové dedicated his Concerto for Piano, Cello and Orchestra ‘Bushman Prayers’ (2013) to Gerber and Schoeman, and they premiered the work with the Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestras in during their recent nationwide concert tour. Ben Schoeman studied at the University of Pretoria, the International Piano Academy in Imola, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole. His teachers include Michel Dalberto, Louis Lortie, Ronan O’Hora, Boris Petrushansky, Joseph Stanford and Eliso Virsaladze. In 2016, he obtained a doctorate in music from City, University of London and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with a thesis entitled ‘The Piano Works of Stefans Grové (1922-2014): A Study of Stylistic Influences, Technical Elements and Canon Formation in South African Art Music’. His doctoral studies were supervised by Christopher Wiley and supported by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, the National Research Foundation, the Wingate Scholarships, the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers and the Drake Calleja Trust.
His solo album, featuring works of Franz Liszt, is available under the TwoPianists label and he has recorded music of Rubinstein and Rachmaninoff with cellist Anzél Gerber. His performance in London with pianist Tessa Uys of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, arranged for piano duet by Xaver Scharwenka, will be broadcast on kykNet television in 2019.
Ben Schoeman is a senior lecturer in music at the University of Pretoria, where he received the Laureate Award.