Get to Know Chopin Champion and Acclaimed Pianist Brian Ganz


Internationally celebrated pianist, scholar, and devoted champion of Frédéric Chopin, Brian Ganz partnered with the National Philharmonic in 2011 on a multi-year performance project striving to perform Chopin’s entire catalogue. On May 4, Ganz performs Romantic Revolutionary which includes Chopin études from Op. 25 and Op. 10, Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23, and Scherzo No. 2, Op. 31 in D-flat major. Maryland Theatre Guide notes, “Ganz is a marvelously talented musician... [whose] love for the music spills onto the piano and across to concert hall, filling each member of the audience.” For a preview of Ganz's musical prowess, watch the video below:

Want to know more about the May 4 program? Read this recent article, featuring fun facts about some of the highlights of the evening. 

Brian Ganz participated in a Q&A with the Center, providing a look into his musical history, relationship with Chopin, and upcoming performance: 

How did your musical journey lead to your dedication to performing every note composed by Chopin? What inspired this project? 

  • My musical journey virtually began with falling in love with Chopin's works. Within months of my first lesson, I was listening rapt with fascination to his works on the old LP recordings. I was immediately enchanted with his mazurkas, waltzes, ballades, and études— only later did I come to know and love his polonaises, nocturnes, sonatas, scherzi, impromptus, preludes, and all the rest. I can remember once doing calisthenics with my mom to the polonaises! I knew very early on that I absolutely HAD to play all the works I was in love with, and eventually that blossomed into every single note he composed. The project itself was the idea of my friend Piotr Gajewski, music director of the National Philharmonic, and is a collaboration with the Philharmonic. I am eternally grateful to Piotr and the NatPhil! 

In what ways does Chopin stand out amongst musical icons such as Beethoven or Mozart? 

  • Well, I'm hardly a non-biased observer, so others might disagree. But I find that Chopin is THE premiere musical storyteller. His ability to weave a compelling, emotionally powerful narrative out of beautiful and substantive musical ideas has been unparalleled in musical history, in my opinion. I like to say that he explores every conceivable human emotion and creates some inconceivable ones along the way. We can point to other gifts as well: an extraordinary grasp of the colors and sonorities the piano is capable of, a rare gift for melodic beauty, creative imagination for new and often mysterious harmonic relationships, superb structural craftsmanship, but to me his most distinctive gift is that of the master storyteller. 

In the upcoming program at the Center, what specific pieces are you most excited to share with the audience? Why? 

  • The answer to that question is... whichever piece I am currently playing! I am passionate about each and every work on this program. But I'll call attention to three genres that are particularly dear to me: first, the mazurkas. I call them Chopin's "creative laboratory," because he conducts so many daring experiments with them, and thus creates sounds both strange and ravishing (a combination I adore). Next the Ballade No. 1, which is my favorite single work of his (and I learned it was also his favorite of all his works), which combines musical poetry with his aforementioned gift for storytelling. Finally the études, which unite thrilling virtuosity with magnificent beauty and pianistic color. But all the other genres I am playing are exciting in their own way. 

If you could ask Chopin one question, what would that question be? 

  • May I study with you? 

What can the Center's audience expect at your May 4 performance? 

  • Expect to fall in love anew with Chopin the storyteller! 

Buy your tickets today and experience the legendary composer in a fresh, enlightening way with Brian Ganz: A Chopin Recital on May 4. 

 The Center for the Arts is proud to co-present this performance with George Mason University’s Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music.