Jonathan Biss returns to Keyboard Concerts a bigger classical star

The Fresno BeeFebruary 5, 2014 

Pianist Jonathan Biss will perform in the Philip Lorenz Keyboard Concert Series.

BENJAMIN EALOVEGA — Special to The Bee

American pianist Jonathan Biss, who visited the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series in 2008, returns with an even bigger name in the classical music world. Here's a rundown:

The artist: Biss grew up in Bloomington, Ind., and studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with the great Leon Fleisher, who performed at Keyboard Concerts in September. Biss has appeared with the nation's great orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Boston, Chicago and San Francisco symphonies. He is a frequent soloist in Europe, appearing with such stalwarts as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The program: Biss will play works by Brahms, Kurtág and Chopin. Two Beethoven works, the Sonata in E minor and the Sonata in C major, are on the program. Andreas Werz, artistic director of Keyboard Concerts, points out that Biss played the same program at Carnegie Hall in New York a couple of weeks ago and will present it right after his Fresno concert at Cal Performances at UC Berkeley. "His career has definitely taken off," Werz says.

The technology angle: Biss in September taught a five-week course on Beethoven's piano sonatas to 35,000 participants in partnership with Coursera, a MOOC (massive open online course). The course will begin a repeat run featuring the same lecture videos and fresh assignments on March 13, according to Biss' website, at

His 2008 Fresno concert: George Warren, writing for The Bee, was wowed by Biss' performance of Schoenberg's Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19. "Schoenberg's name rarely, if ever, appears on the programs of the long-standing music presenting organizations in Fresno, but here he was in all his reviled glory," Warren wrote. "Biss gave the best performance of the Op. 19 I have ever heard, and his work here ranks among the best performances of the Lorenz series during the past 12 years."

Concert details: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Fresno State Concert Hall., (559) 278-2337. $18, $12 seniors, $5 students.


The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6373, and @donaldbeearts on Twitter. Read his blog at

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