Markus Becker

„Markus Becker is unbeatable as a virtuoso, a musical soul painter with a mind.“ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In international concert life, Markus Becker has been convincing for many years as a powerful interpreter of piano literature from Bach to Rihm, as an imaginative programme designer and distinguished artist who has his second home in jazz. Markus Becker was born into a musical household in 1963. Even as a three-year-old, he enjoyed spending time at keyboard instruments. He first received piano lessons from Marton Keönch, later from Heidi Köhler. Singing in the Hanover Boys‘ Choir, founding his first chamber music ensembles, playing in jazz and rock bands and composing music for the stage complete the artistic horizon of his school years. After winning first prizes in various youth competitions, Markus Becker began studying piano with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling in Hanover in 1982, flanked by master classes with Lew Vlasenko, Leon Fleisher and Fanny Waterman and supplemented by intensive work with chamber music. For many years he received further important inspiration from Alfred Brendel. He won various national and international prizes, including 1st prize at the International Brahms Competition in Hamburg in 1987.

Today Markus Becker sets standards with concertos by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Gershwin, but also with rediscoveries such as Pfitzner, Hindemith, Draeseke, Widor or the two concertos for the left hand by Franz Schmidt. In his solo programmes, Markus Becker contrasts rediscoveries with the great standard works of the piano literature. As a virtuoso jazz improviser, he is an exceptional phenomenon among classical pianists.

Becker is a regular guest at the Ruhr Piano Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Rheingau Music Festival, Kissinger Sommer, Beethovenfest Bonn and the Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele. Markus Becker has performed with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the RSB Berlin, the radio orchestras of the NDR, WDR and SWR, the BBC Welsh Orchestra under conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Howard Griffiths, Michael Sanderling, Steven Sloane, Marcus Bosch. Becker’s central concern is chamber music. As a performer, professor and festival director, he devotes himself to this field with particular dedication. The borderline between musical individuality and the joint search for interpretative solutions forms the core of his artistic work. His partners here include Albrecht Mayer, Nils Mönkemeyer, Adrian Brendel, Igor Levit, Sharon Kam, Alban Gerhardt and Tabea Zimmermann.

Chamber music is also the focus of Markus Becker’s teaching activities: He has been a professor at the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media since 1993. Here he leads a class of pianists and chamber music ensembles that repeatedly attract attention through competition successes. He is director of the Institute for Chamber Music and director of the annual chamber music festival at his university. For his CD recordings, Becker has received the ‚ECHO-Klassik‘ three times as well as the German Record Critics‘ Award and the „Editor’s choice“ in the British journal GRAMOPHONE. In 2019 Becker got awarded the Opus Klassik (Reger Piano Concerto live CD). Recordings appear on EMI, Decca, cpo and Thorofon with works by Brahms, Schumann, Bach, Beethoven, Dussek and George Antheil. Today Markus Becker produces most of his recordings for the English label hyperion. Here he has released in quick succession the cello sonatas of Max Reger (with Alban Gerhardt), piano concertos by Draeseke, Jadassohn and Widor, chamber music by Erwin Schulhoff and most recently Reger’s arrangements of Bach’s organ works. Becker’s complete recording of Max Reger’s piano works on a total of 12 CDs (Thorofon) is already considered legendary. The FonoForum judges this encyclopaedic feat: „One of the rare truly great achievements of German pianism of the last fifty years“.

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