Rudolf Buchbinder

Rudolf Buchbinder

Piano

• Born 1946

Biography

Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder is an important specialist in core Austro-Germanic repertory, bringing precision and taste to music from Haydn to Brahms. He was a pioneering champion of Haydn's keyboard music, recording that composer's complete piano sonatas in the 1970s.

Buchbinder was born in Litomerice, Czechoslovakia, on December 1, 1946, as the region's ethnically German inhabitants were being expelled by order of the Czech government. He grew up in Austria and attended the Vienna Academy of Music, where he studied with Bruno Seidlhofer. Something of a prodigy, Buchbinder took a piano trio prize at the Munich International Festival in 1961 and earned a Dinu Lipatti Medal the following year. Not yet 20, he toured North and South America in 1965. In 1966, he was given a special prize at the Van Cliburn Competition, leading to a tour with the Vienna Philharmonic and a general reputation as a rising young star of the piano. Over the next several decades, he appeared across Europe, the U.S., and Japan, frequently touring with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and becoming a specialist in core Viennese repertory. In concert, but not on recordings, he has also programmed music of the 20th century. Buchbinder is also a chamber player noted especially for his collaborations with cellist János Starker. In 2007, Buchbinder became the artistic director of Austria's Grafenegg Festival. He was featured in the documentary Pianomania (2009). Buchbinder has remained active in his later years and is the recipient of a host of Austrian regional awards as well as a German ECHO Klassik Award for Instrumentalist of the Year, honoring his 2012 album Beethoven: The Sonata Legacy.

Buchbinder is perhaps best known for his large catalog of recordings, which numbered well over 75 by the late 2010s. His 1970s Haydn recordings have been reissued several times in digital media, even as recordings of this repertory had become much more common. Buchbinder conducted a cycle of Beethoven's piano concertos from the keyboard and recorded a cycle of the Brahms concertos with the Vienna Philharmonic for the Sony Classical label. He made numerous recordings of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert for labels that include Teldec, Calig, and Warner Classics, and he has made several recordings of the variations on a waltz by Diabelli that were published at the same time as Beethoven's famous set, Op. 120, as well as those later inspired by the project. Two of these, The Diabelli Project and The New Diabelli, appeared on Deutsche Grammophon in 2020. The septuagenarian Buchbinder also released a recording that year of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15, with the Berlin Philharmonic and conductor Christian Thielemann. Buchbinder has taught piano at the Basel Academy of Music.

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