• Born 1953
The American-born French pianist David Lively has a large repertory of more than 80 concertos as well as numerous chamber and solo pieces. He is also a noted educator and festival director in France.
Lively was born in Ironton, Ohio, on June 27, 1953. He studied in the U.S., and at age 14 he played the difficult Piano Concerto of Aram Khachaturian with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Two years later, he moved to France to continue his studies, later taking French citizenship. His first teacher in France was Jules Gentil, who had been an assistant of Alfred Cortot. He then caught the attention of Claudio Arrau, who rarely gave lessons but agreed to teach Lively. He won several important prizes, including a fourth-place finish at Belgium's Queen Elisabeth Competition in 1972 and the Dino Ciani Prize in Milan, Italy, in 1977. Lively has performed concertos with many of Europe's top orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, the Orchestre National de France, and the English Chamber Orchestra, working under conductors including Simon Rattle, Leonard Slatkin, and Kurt Sanderling.
He has performed music from the Baroque (including Bach's The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080) to the present day, specializing somewhat in music of the U.S. Lively met Elliott Carter randomly on a Paris subway and subsequently programmed his works frequently, but he was also an enthusiastic performer of works by such vernacular and vernacular-influenced composers as Gershwin, William Bolcom, and Scott Joplin. Lively's 2018 album I Got Rhythm, a survey of American piano music, was an especially strong seller in France. Another Lively specialty has been extremely difficult music, as represented by concertos of Busoni, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and Joseph Marx. He is also an enthusiastic chamber music player, especially at his own Saint-Lizier Festival in the Pyrenees mountains, which has attracted Martha Argerich and other top musicians.
Lively has taught at the Paris Conservatory and has given master classes at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, the Royal Scottish Academy, and Belgium's Chapelle Royale. He also is a frequent competition jurist. Lively's recordings include one of Chopin's piano concertos arranged for piano and string quintet, with the Quatuor Cambini-Paris, in 2019.