RALPH VOTAPEK– UNITED STATES
Pianist Ralph Votapek’s early triumph–as winner of the prestigious Naumburg Award and gold medalist in the First Van Cliburn International Piano Competition–were an auspicious prelude to an even more remarkable career. His compelling keyboard style embodies all that is best in 20th-century piano traditions, combining the fire, poetry, and tonal warmth of the grand-manner pre-war era with the modern-day virtues of fastidious clarity and electrifying rhythmic flair.
Mr. Votapek has made hundreds of appearances with major American orchestras. Featured 16 times as the Chicago Symphony’s guest soloist, he has frequently played with the Boston Pops, also concertizing with The Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony, and leading orchestras in St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, Louisville, and elsewhere.
With concerto appearances abroad ranging through London, Lisbon, St. Petersburg, and Asia, Mr. Votapek has made a special commitment to Latin America, where he has toured every other year for over 50 years, performing in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Asuncion, Montevideo, Sao Paolo, Lima, Caracas, Santiago, and numerous smaller cities. Mr. Votapek is equally celebrated as a solo recitalist throughout four continents: in New York, he has performed repeatedly at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Guest appearances with the Julliard, Fine Arts, New World, and Chester String Quartets are highlights of his extensive chamber music experience.
Born in Milwaukee, Mr. Votapek began his musical education at age 9, when he enrolled in the Wisconsin Conservatory. Continuing his studies at Northwestern University, he subsequently attended the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School, where his principal teachers were Rosina Lhevinne and Robert Goldsand. He has served as artist-in-residence at Michigan State University, where he is currently professor emeritus of piano at the College of Music.
Mr. Votapek was the soloist on Arthur Fiedler’s last Boston Pops recording, a Gershwin program released on CD by London Records and most recently available as part of the Deutsche Grammophon CD titled The Arthur Fiedler Legacy. In recent years he has recorded for the Ivory Classics and Blue Griffin labels. On the former, he has recorded the complete Debussy Preludes, the complete Goyescas of Granados, and a collection of important 20th-century works. On the latter there are Votapek Plays Gershwin, The Votapeks, From Mozart to Piazzolla, Beethoven’s complete works for piano and cello with cellist, Suren Bagratuni, and most recently, Schubert’s Last Sonatas. Each recording has received critical acclaim in the industry’s leading publications.
Frequently joined by his wife Albertine in two-piano and four-hand recitals, the Votapeks have appeared in Buenos Aires under the auspices of the Mozarteum Argentino, on the Cliburn Concerts series in Fort Worth, at the Pabst Theatre Series in Milwaukee, and have been featured on performing arts series of numerous colleges and universities.
The remainder of the 2020 Cliburn Amateur Jury will be announced Autumn 2019.