Menahem Pressler, founding member and pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio, has established himself among the world’s most distinguished and honored musicians, with a career that spans over five decades. Now 90 years old, he continues to captivate audiences throughout the world as performer and pedagogue, performing solo and chamber music recitals to great critical acclaim while maintaining a dedicated and robust teaching career.
Born in Magdeburg, Germany in 1923, Pressler fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and emigrated to Israel. Pressler’s world-renowned career was launched after he was awarded first prize at the Debussy International Piano Competition in San Francisco in 1946. This was followed by his successful American debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Eugene Ormandy. Since then, Pressler’s extensive tours of North America and Europe have included performances with the orchestras of New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Francisco, London, Paris, Brussels, Oslo, and Helsinki, among others.
In 2007 Menahem Pressler was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in recognition of a lifetime of performance and leadership in music. In 2005 Pressler received two additional awards of International merit: the German President’s Deutsche Bundesverdienstkreuz (Cross of Merit) First Class, Germany’s highest honor, and France’s highest cultural honor, the Commandeur in the Order of Arts and Letters award.
Pressler has received honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska and the North Carolina School of the Arts, five Grammy nominations, a lifetime achievement award from Gramophone magazine, Chamber Music America’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Gold Medal of Merit from the National Society of Arts and Letters. He has also been awarded the German Critics Ehrenurkunde award, and election into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. On April 6, 2011, Mr. Pressler has been named the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 International Classical Music Awards. More recently, Gramophone magazine honored Pressler –as part of the Beaux Arts Trio—in their May 2012 issue “Hall of Fame: 50 People Who Changed Classical Music.” In July of 2012, Queen Sofia of Spain presented Pressler with the Yehudi Menuhin Prize for the Integration of Arts and Education.
Internationally active as soloist and chamber musician, additional honors include England’s Record of the Year Award and Ensemble of the Year from Musical America in 1997. In addition to his busy schedule as a performer, he has given master classes in Germany, France, Canada, and Argentina, and continues to serve on the jury of the Van Cliburn, Queen Elisabeth, and Arthur Rubinstein competitions.
The 1955 Berkshire Music Festival saw Menahem Pressler’s debut as a chamber musician, where he appeared as pianist with the Beaux Arts Trio. This collaboration quickly established Pressler’s reputation as one of the world’s most revered chamber musicians. His other chamber music collaborations have included multiple performances with the Juilliard, Emerson, Guarneri and Cleveland Quartets.
In addition to over fifty recordings with the Beaux Arts Trio, Menahem Pressler has compiled over thirty solo recordings, ranging from the works of Bach to Ben Haim. Pressler’s life has always been completely devoted to his music. When not touring or giving master classes around the world, Mr. Pressler can be found teaching at Indiana University, where he holds the rank of Distinguished Professor. Pressler lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife Sara.