"The pianist's pianist"
"As pianist and musician,
he has everything - fingers, heart, style, temperament,
the arching line.
The man seems to be imbued with music,
and he in turn imbues everything he touches with poetry and majesty."
"What Moravec offers is what makes him, for me, one of the greatest pianists in the world today."
The world-famous pianist Ivan Moravec is one of the most important representatives of the Czech piano art of the 20th century. He was born
on November 9, 1930, in Prague. After graduating from the Prague Conservatory in 1952, where he studied piano with Erna Grünfeldová),
he continued with Prof. Ilona Štěpánová-Kurzová at the Faculty of Music
of the Prague Academy of Performing Arts. Between 1957 and 1958,
he completed piano master classes with Artur Benedetti-Michelangeli
in Arezzo, Italy. Ivan Moravec was subsequently invited to London for his two debuts — a solo recital at Wigmore Hall, and Prokofiev's First Piano Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Gunnar Staern at the Royal Festival Hall. His two performances met with critical acclaim and great reviews in The Daily Telegraph and The Times. Based on his success,
Ivan Moravec was invited in 1962 to make two records for the American Connoisseur Society featuring works by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Franck.
At the end of the 1950s, he also performed for the first time with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under Karel Ančerl. He was again invited to London
for concerts with the Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt. When the legendary conductor George Szell heard the recordings
of Ivan Moravec, he invited him as a soloist in Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto in the United States. Four concerts with The Cleveland Orchestra
in Cleveland, Hartford, and New York's Carnegie Hall turned out to be
a resounding success and launched Moravec's international career.
Ivan Moravec played practically on the world’s all major stages. He also achieved huge success in Japan and Australia. He was a regular guest
at music festivals in Tanglewood, Ravina, Blossom, Montreux, Salzburg, Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Schleswig-Holstein, and the Mostly Mozart Festival
in New York. He performed at a total of twenty-one concerts at the Prague Spring Festival between 1962 and 2012.
Ivan Moravec collaborated with a number of the world's most renowned conductors (Jiří Bělohlávek, Herbert Blomstedt, Mariss Jansons, Kurt Masur,
Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf, Simon Rattle, Leonard Slatkin, Franz Welser-Möst, David Zinman, and others) and orchestras (Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Berliner Symphoniker,
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Concertgebouw Amsterdam,
Czech Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, and many others).
He made many recordings at home and abroad, which were published
on gramophone records and CDs. Most recordings made in the United States were awarded "Recording of the Year", and they were repeatedly nominated for a Grammy Award. Phillips included a selection of these recordings
in its prestigious anthology "Great Pianists of the 20th Century", in which
Ivan Moravec is the only one representing Czech piano art. His recording
of four Mozart concerts with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of
St. Martin-in-the-Fields was a remarkable success at the MIDEM festival
in Cannes, which was awarded the best recording in the 18th-century music category. In the United States, Ivan Moravec recorded for the Connoisseur Society (reissued by VAI and Supraphon) and other prestigious labels (e.g., Nonesuch, Dorian, Hänssler Classics, VOX, and Supraphon).
Romantic European music and Czech music became the focus of Moravec’s interest. His repertoire included piano compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, César Franck, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, and Leoš Janáček. His greatest artistic achievements associate with the music of Fryderyk Chopin, of which he is
a world-famous performer. Ivan Moravec's art also found its way into the cult films of the 1980s: Excerpts from his films of Janáček's compositions On the Overgrown Path and In the Mists were used in Philip Kaufman's feature
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and the 3rd movement from Mozart's Piano Concerto in E flat major, K 482 was utilized in Miloš Forman's Amadeus.
From 1969 to 2014, he worked as a teacher at the Faculty of Music
of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Many of his students have become successful pianists themselves. He offered piano master classes
for universities in the United States. He also taught at courses in Pilsen and Prague. Between 2010 and 2013, he led master classes at the Prague Music Performance Institute and Festival. He was often invited to the juries at international interpretation competitions — as a judge, he participated
in the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels (1978, 1983, 1987), in Leeds (1969),
in Vienna (1975), and Washington (1987).
The artistic and pedagogical activity of prof. Ivan Moravec was awarded
the State Award for Merit in Culture in 2000 by the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel. On November 22, 2000, he was awarded the Charles IV International Award by Charles University in Prague. In 2004, he received
the Czech Music Council Award for his lifelong artistic achievement
and the promotion of Czech music abroad.
Ivan Moravec died in Prague on July 27, 2015 in Prague, at the age of 84.