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Steffen Schleiermacher

Pianist Steffen Schleiermacher is one of Germany's leading advocates for contemporary music. He is equally active as a composer and has often been honored with awards and prestigious residencies. Schleiermacher was born May 3, 1960, in Halle, then in East Germany. He is distantly related to 19th century theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher. His education took place at one of the country's top universities, the Musikhochschule Leipzig, where he studied piano under Gerhard Erber, composition under Friedrich Schenker, and conducting under Günter Blumhagen. Schleiermacher also studied composition at the DDR Akademie der Künste and took private piano lessons with Aloys Kontarsky. It was as a composer that he first gained recognition, winning an award at the Gaudeamus Competition for composition in 1985, and the Hanns Eisler Prize in 1989 for his Concerto for viola and chamber ensemble. Schleiermacher held composition residences at the Villa Massimo, Rome (1992), and the Cité des Arts, Paris (1998). He is interested in non-Western music, and his compositions show influences from, among other traditions, the music of Indonesia's gamelan orchestras, and Japanese traditional music. As a pianist, Schleiermacher has performed concertos with the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, among other top ensembles. To explore his interests in contemporary music, he formed the Ensemble Avantgarde, and as a soloist, he has performed and recorded music by contemporary Japanese and Indonesian composers. As a recording artist, Schleiermacher has focused almost exclusively on music from the early 20th century to the present. He has recorded more than 80 albums, most them for the MDG label; these include a complete cycle of the piano music of John Cage and another of Satie's piano music, the sixth volume of which appeared in 2019. Schleiermacher's 2003 album Hommage à Walter Spies memorialized the Dutch artist who invigorated the contemporary art scene on the Indonesian island of Bali. He has won Germany's coveted ECHO Klassik award six times.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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