• Born 1967
Often appears with
Pianist Mari Kodama has flourishing careers as a performer and recording artist in both Japan and the West. She is especially noted as a Beethoven specialist.
Kodama was born in 1967 in Osaka. Kodama's mother was a former concert pianist, and Kodama began piano lessons at age three (she wanted to start even earlier). Kodama's father was a Sumitomo Bank executive who was sent on postings to Germany, France, Switzerland, and Britain. Kodama enrolled at the Conservatoire de Paris when she was 14, studying piano with Germain Mounier and chamber music with Geneviève Joy-Dutilleux. She made her debut in Japan when she was 17, gaining wide publicity there. A breakthrough was a well-reviewed performance of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26, in London in 1987. She made her debut at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1995, and she has appeared with major orchestras across Europe, the U.S., and Japan, including the NHK Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Kodama is frequently seen at festivals, not only as a performer but also as an administrator; she has presented festivals in San Francisco (Musical Days at Forest Hill, where she works with her husband, conductor Kent Nagano) and in Postignano, Italy.
Kodama has a large catalog of recordings stretching back to the early 1990s. She has recorded mostly for PentaTone Classics, where she issued a complete cycle of Beethoven's piano sonatas between 2003 and 2012; the project began as a set of performances in Los Angeles and Pasadena, California, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She is one of the few female pianists to have recorded a Beethoven sonata cycle. Kodama later recorded a cycle of Beethoven's piano concertos with Nagano and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; it included the rarely heard Piano Concerto No. 0, WoO 4, of 1784. In 2020, Kodama joined cellist Matt Haimovitz on PentaTone for the recital Mon Ami, Mon Amour.