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Jeremy Denk, piano

Tuesday, October 15, 7:30PM

Ordway Concert Hall

Pianist Jeremy Denk is one of the foremost musicians of our age – “a pianist you want to hear no matter what he performs,” proclaimed the New York Times. To open the 2024-2025 International Artist Series, Denk will present a program of both old and new, featuring music by notable female composers along with music by Schumann and Brahms.

For the last few years, Denk’s concert programs have focused on works by women composers who have been overlooked by history. The first half of his International Artist series program will feature works by notable women composers from the 19th century to the present day, performing works by such as Cécile Chaminade, Clara Schumann, Amy Beach, Ruth Crawford Seeger, and Louise Farrenc, alongside some of the finest women composers working today: Tania León, Missy Mazzoli, Meredith Monk and Phyllis Chen.

The second half of the program is devoted to music of Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, who shared a deep personal connections before Robert’s early death in an asylum at age 46. Schumann’s “Ghost” Variations, composed in 1854, was the last work he completed before his admission to a mental hospital. At this stage of his illness, Robert believed that he was surrounded by spirits who played him musi., both “wonderful” and “hideous”. One day, he wrote down a theme he believed to be dictated by these “angels”.  (It was in fact a theme he had written previously.) Within days he had written out the aptly-named “Ghost” Variations, lovingly dedicated to Clara, who protectively guarded the manuscript from publication. The first edition did not appear until 1939.

Five years after Schumann’s death, Johannes Brahms presented his Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel to his “beloved friend” Clara Schumann, on her 42nd birthday. It consists of 25 masterful variations and a concluding fugue, with an exuberant finish designed to bring the house down.



Winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and the Avery Fisher Prize, Denk is also a New York Times bestselling author of the memoir Every Good Boy Does Fine; A Life in Piano Lessons. A former Artistic Partner of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Denk’s recent recording of Mozart Piano Concertos with the SPCO has earned critical reviews.