Paul Lewis (19 February)
On the face of it, Liverpool-born Paul Lewis’s family background was not one conducive to his future as one of the most distinguished pianists before today’s public. His father, he says, would occasionally get out one of his John Denver records, and there was an electronic organ (one octave) in the house, but that was about the extent of it musically. Inspiration came from around the corner in the shape of Liverpool’s public library. This contained an extensive stock of recordings by pianists such as Wilhelm Kempff and Alfred Brendel. The latter figure was to become a huge influence after studies from the age of 14 at Manchester’s Chetham’s School of Music. Lewis encountered him at a masterclass while a student at London’s Guildhall School of Music, and was invited by him to have private lessons.
Paul Lewis’s large discography centres around the core Austrian-Germanic repertoire: for Harmonia Mundi the complete Beethoven sonatas and concertos, Brahms’ First Piano Concerto, much Schubert; for Hyperion the two Mozart piano quartets and Schubert’s Trout Quintet. His partnership with the tenor Mark Padmore has resulted in remarkable recordings of Schubert’s Winterreise, Die schone Müllerin and Schwanengesang.
Last year he succeeded Dame Fanny Waterman as Artistic Director of the Leeds International Piano Competition.
He is married to the cellist of the Vertavo String Quartet, Bjorg Lewis, and they have three children.