Available languages: EnglishPianist Daniel-Ben Pienaar is known for unconventional approaches to the conventional repertory. He tends to perform and record large cycles of a single composer's works in a consistent and unusual style. Pienaar was born in South Africa, a fact to which he attributes his original style. "[In] South Africa, I did not have teachers from any of the established traditions that train young people so effectively," he told Pamela Hickman. "My technical upbringing was not systematic in any way. I never did any kind of technical exercises or studies, always real music." The son of a minister and chaplain, he was raised on a South African military base near Kimberley and in Port Elizabeth. Pienaar won several national competitions and was invited to perform concertos with several of South Africa's leading symphony orchestras. That earned him a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy in London, where he has lived since he was 18. In his university studies, he was influenced not only by pianist Christopher Elton, but by viol player and musicologist Laurence Dreyfus, and by trumpeter and recording theorist Jonathan Freeman-Atwood, with whom he later recorded a group of trumpet-and-piano arrangements of music from various eras. He received the Queen's Commendation upon graduating in 1997. Pienaar toured often in Japan from 1999 to 2005 and has continued to tour as a recitalist, not only in Britain but in Japan, Singapore, and his native South Africa, among other countries. Pienaar is especially noted for his recording career, which began in 2003 with an album of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846-869, undertaken after a period of concentrated study of the pieces. He has tended toward cycles and recordings of synoptic works or sets of works. In 2008 and 2009, he recorded the complete piano sonatas of Mozart for the Avie label, and for the same label, the complete sonatas of Beethoven from 2012 to 2014. He has recorded mostly for the Linn and Avie labels, issuing The Long 17th Century: A Cornucopia of Early Keyboard Music on the latter imprint in 2020. Pienaar teaches at the Royal Academy of Music, where he is a Fellow and holds the title of Lecturer in Performance Studies.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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