• Born 1991
Pianist Sophie Pacini, German of Italian background, emerged in the 2010s as living proof that the traditional career path leading through well-established Classical-Romantic repertory was still viable. A native of Munich, Germany, Pacini was born on December 12, 1991. She showed major talent even before taking any serious lessons, making her concert debut in 2000 at the age of eight. At ten she entered the Salzburg Mozarteum in Austria, studying with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling and winning admission after two years to the school's new institute for highly gifted students. Pacini won the Jugend Musiziert (Young People Making Music) prize in 2002 and 2005, gaining media attention as a near prodigy. She appeared in 2007 on the Klassik-Kids program on the ZDF television network in Germany.
Pacini won several more prizes and scholarships late in the 2000s decade, but her next real breakthrough came in 2010, when she met top German pianist Martha Argerich. Argerich invited Pacini to give a recital at her Martha Argerich Project series in Switzerland in 2011, and she has since emerged as the young pianist's mentor. Pacini graduated with honors from the Mozarteum that year but has continued to study in master classes from the likes of Dmitri Bashkirov and Fou Ts'ong. The following year she made debuts at several European festivals and appeared on the ZDF show Stars von Morgen (Stars of Tomorrow). Her concert-season profile grew from Salzburg appearances with the Mozarteum Orchester and Camerata Salzburg to wider-ranging appearances with the Dresden Philharmonic and the Tokyo Philharmonic at Suntory Hall.
In 2012 Pacini made her recording debut on the Onyx label, the result of a Rothschild Foundation prize she won. She moved to CAvi Music for recordings of Liszt and Chopin in 2012 and 2014. An ECHO Klassik newcomer prize in 2015 and subsequent signing by the major Warner Classics label seemed to confirm Pacini's star trajectory. She released her Warner debut, a Beethoven-Liszt recital, in 2016, took the program on the road, and appeared that year with the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, among other top ensembles. With Argerich encountering health problems that year, her replacement seemed ready to take the stage.