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Simon Ghraichy, the 29-year-old, prize-winning, Paris-based, Lebanese-Mexican pianist, has a busy fall ahead of him, making his Carnegie Hall debut Thursday, October 15 after launching a new CD, “DUELS,” on September 30.
“LISZT AND THE AMERICAS,” GHRAICHY’S CARNEGIE HALL DEBUT OCT. 15, 2015:
“Liszt and the Americas,” will feature Simon Ghraichy at the piano performing a program of Liszt compositions “Sonata in B Minor,” “Funeral March dedicated to the souvenir of Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico,” as well as works by Godowski, Gottschalk, Lecuona, Ponce and Villa-Lobos. Liszt never visited the Americas. (He was afraid of the boat crossing.) Nonetheless, Liszt had strong links with the New World. Often organizing picnics and festivities to honor the Fourth of July for his more than thirty American pupils in Weimar, he was known to improvise variations on “Yankee Doodle.” Many of his European students immigrated to the USA and founded piano schools in the Lisztian virtuosic tradition, among them Otto Singer, Arthur Friedman and Alexander Siloti, who later was Rachmaninov’s mentor. Liszt also personally knew Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the Louisiana-born American composer and pianist who had lived for many years in the Caribbean and Latin America and died in Rio de Janeiro playing his own composition entitled “Morte”. Gottschalk not only played Liszt’s works but also dedicated his own Mazeppa to Liszt. In 1867, Franz Liszt composed and dedicated a funeral march to the memory of Maximilian, the Emperor of Mexico. Liszt was so intrigued by the New World that he quoted in a letter to Baron Georg Von Seydlitz: “If cataclysms […] were to devastate Europe from end to end, I would try to find refuge in the West Indies”.
Says Simon Ghraichy, “Carnegie Hall has always been a dream for me, an aspiration. To me, as a European musician, Carnegie Hall reflects an America where all cultures and musical genres are welcome. I feel very honored to be having my New York City recital debut at that institution, especially since the 2015-2016 season is its 125th anniversary, and also the 50th anniversary of Vladimir Horowitz’s – my favorite pianist – great return to the musical scene after 10 years of absence… in a concert at Carnegie Hall.”
For tickets and information, visit www.CarnegieHall.org.
Ghraichy’s Carnegie Hall debut is the first stop in a “Liszt and the Americas” tour that will play engagements at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on March 16, 2016, and Mexico, Berlin and Paris in fall 2016.
SIMON GHRAICHY TO RELEASE 2ND CD, “DUELS,” SEPTEMBER 30, 2015:
Ghraichy’s new CD, “DUELS,” will be released September 30. The new CD, to be released by Dutch record label, Challenge, features Ghraichy performances of Schumann’s “Kreisleriana op.16,” Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, and Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony (Allegretto).
“Schumann’s ‘Kreisleriana’ display the sometimes calm, sometimes stormy duality of the composer’s character,” says Ghraichy. Liszt’s B Minor Sonata is an extraordinary one-movement pianistic journey, whose dueling elements serve as an allegory for Liszt’s personas as both a worldly dandy, and a fervent Catholic.Beethoven’s Allegretto from the 7th symphony is full of melancholy beauties punctuated by a sudden gleam of sunshine.”
The new recording follows Ghraichy’s debut CD, “Always in Motion: Opera Transcriptions and Paraphrases by Franz Liszt,” which was released in 2011 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Liszt’s birthday, and is available online from iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify.
ABOUT SIMON GHRAICHY
Simon Ghraichy is a 29 year old, Paris-based, Lebanese-Mexican pianist. He juxtaposes his Latino-American and oriental roots with a European sensibility and history of classical music tradition that he has learned alongside masters such as Michel Béroff and Daria Hovora at the Conservatoire National de Paris (CNSMDP), and Tuija Hakkila at the Sibelius Academy of Helsinki. He’s attracted to traditional classical and romantic European repertoire, as well as lesser-known repertory by Latin American composers such as Villa-Lobos, Ponce, Gottschalk, Guarnieri, Chaves; Finnish composer Sibelius; and Australian and Anglo-Saxon contemporary composers.
Simon Ghraichy’s career took flight in 2010 when critic Robert Hughes of The Wall Street Journal praised his interpretation of the Réminiscences de Don Juan of Franz Liszt. He has performed in recitals, chamber music concerts and as a soloist with orchestras on five continents including the Brazil Symphony Orchestra, State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Cairo Symphony Orchestra, Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, Cuba National Symphony Orchestra, UniSA international music festival in South Africa, the EXIT festival in Serbia, and the Isang Yun festival in South Korea. Ghraichy has won numerous prizes and international distinctions at festivals including the BNDES (Banco do Brasil) International Piano Competition, the Manuel M. Ponce International Piano Competition in Mexico City, and the Torneo Internazionale di Musica in Rome. He is a laureate of the Gyorgy Cziffra Foundation with whom he collaborates yearly in Senlis (France) and different partner festivals. In 2015, Simon Ghraichy debuts at the Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence at the Theatre du Jeu de Paume, and the Bard Music Festival and Carnegie Hall in New York. His debut CD, “Always in Motion: Opera Transcriptions and Paraphrases by Franz Liszt,” was released in 2011. A new CD featuring Ghraichy’s performances of Schumann’s “Kreisleriana op.16,” and Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor,” will be released by Dutch record label, Challenge, on September 30, 2015.