Anton Kuerti honoured with Schumann Prize


TORONTO, Feb. 20 2007

Pianist Anton Kuerti has been selected as a recipient of the Schumann Prize given every two years by the Robert-Schumann-Gesellschaft in association with the city of Zwickau, Germany, Robert Schumann's birthplace.  Kuerti shares this year's prize with another Canadian, Vancouver musicologist Margit McCorkle.  Other recent winners include Daniel Barenboim, Alfred Brendel, John Eliot Gardiner and Nikolaus Harnoncourt.  Given since 1964, this is the first time Canadians have been selected as recipients.

The 5,000 Euro prize will be awarded in Zwickau on August 25, and Kuerti will perform an all Schumann concert as part of the ceremony.  In announcing the prize, the director of the Robert-Schumann-Gesellschaft, Dr. Gerd Nauhaus, said that Kuerti is "at home in the most important European concert halls.  He performed often in the former German Democratic Republic, and was even a soloist with the Zwickau Symphony Orchestra in the 1977/78 season......he has interpreted the major Schumann piano works in an exemplary manner, and recorded them on numerous CD's.  He is celebrated as an exceptional pianist, and as such he was recently featured as the cover story in the German magazine "Piano News."

Kuerti says "I am deeply honoured to receive this prize, especially because Schumann is near the top of my favourite composers, and is perhaps the one the touches me most personally... he is second to no other composer in the incandescent and stirring spontaneity of his inspiration.  Just as he himself tottered at - and sometimes beyond - the edge of sanity, the interpreter needs to approach that same edge and enter a world of utter whimsy, spontaneity, and nearly maniacal poetry and passion.  Daring extravagance is needed, and yet there is a relatively small space between playing that is highly competent, but does not truly take flight on the wings of inspiration, and playing that is so exaggerated and arbitrary that it quickly turns into a travesty."

Anton Kuerti continues to perform actively in many countries.  He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has been awarded numerous honourary doctorates.  Among his approximately 50 CD's there are 5 devoted to the music of Schumann, the most recent being a CBC recording of the famous Schumann Piano Concerto with two other Schumann works for Piano and Orchestra.

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Translation (G. N.):

Anton Kuerti: „Ich fühle mich besonders geehrt durch den Preis, steht doch Schumann mit an der Spitze meiner Lieblingskomponisten. Er ist vielleicht derjenige von ihnen, der mich persönlich am tiefsten berührt. Er steht keinem anderen Komponisten nach, was die strahlende und erregende Unmittelbarkeit seiner Inspiration betrifft. Gerade wo der Komponist die Grenzen der Gesundheit streift oder zu überschreiten scheint, muss der Interpret sich diesen Grenzen nähern und in eine Welt der (wie Schumann es nennt) “Grillen“, der Spontaneität und beinahe besessenen Poesie und Leidenschaft eintauchen. Man braucht waghalsige Kühnheit, um den schmalen Grat nicht zu verfehlen zwischen „authentischer“, aber letztlich uninspirierter Interpretation und einem so übertriebenen, willkürlichen Ausdruck, dass er ins Parodistische umschlägt.“