• 1928 — 2019
Jörg Demus was a highly regarded pianist and one of the finest of accompanists. He was noted for combining a basically Romantic sound with an interest in historic keyboard interpretation and early model pianos.
He entered the Vienna Academy of Music at the age of 11, where he studied piano and conducting, graduating in 1945. He continued to study conducting with Josef Krips and Hans Swarowsky, while also taking composition classes. He made his debut as a pianist at the age of 14, while still a student at the Conservatory. From 1951-1953, he was a pupil of Yves Nat in Paris. In 1953, he attended master classes with Gieseking in Saarbrücken, and studied interpretation further with Wilhelm Kempff, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and Edwin Fischer.
He made his debut as a mature artist in Vienna in 1953. In 1956, he won the Busoni Prize of the International Competition for Pianists. He maintained a notable solo career, especially for personal interpretations of Bach and flexible, colorful renditions of Debussy. He was also well regarded for the main line of German piano music from Mozart to Schumann, and for his performances of the piano music of César Franck. He was a recipient of the Beethoven Ring and the Mozart Medal of Vienna.
He was a sensitive accompanist and worked with singers of the highest caliber, including Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Diskau. His version of Schubert's Winterreise, with Fischer-Dieskau, is one of the most critically acclaimed of all recordings of the great song cycle.
He also accompanied violinists (Josef Suk, for instance) and cellists (Antonio Janigro). He appeared in piano duet and two-piano concerts with Paul Badura-Skoda, who shared Demus' interest in older keyboard instruments. Demus acquired several notable examples of early instruments, including harpsichords and pianos by Broadwood, Clementi, and Conrad Graf, and recorded appropriate music on them. He also authored several essays, a book on interpretation, and, as co-author with Badura-Skoda, an analysis of the Beethoven piano sonatas.
Later releases featuring him on piano included Mozart: Lieder (2006), Primeval Sounds (2007), and Haydn: Complete Songs (2009).