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That OTHER Major Piano Festival is Warming Up
by Jerome Weeks 26 May 2011

It’s the annual, summer workshop-international-academy piano festival. That one. With all ears on the Van Cliburn Amateur Competition this week, you haven’t noticed that the 30th anniversary of PianoTexas is sneaking up on us. And it’s going to go mad-crazy with Beethoven. Just wall-to-wall Ludwig.


What is it with North Texans and keyboards, anyway? You’d think we’d never seen a guitar.

We’re talking about PianoTexas here, the month-and-a-half long summer festival and international academy that’s actually already underway at TCU with amateur master classes and recitals (leading up to the Van Cliburn amateur competition, natch).

But the festival really only gets going next week with pianist John O’Conor.  That’s because PianoTexas is marking its 30th year with a Beethoven bonanza. It’s going to present all 32 of his piano sonatas (in fact, O’Conor is kicking things off with two of the best known, the “Moonlight” and the “Pathetique”), all of Beethoven’s piano trios and all of his piano concerti.

The festival is going to manage this by bringing in eight of the world’s leading keyboard bangers (people like Paul Badura-Skoda and John Lill) who’ll perform four sonatas each, two recitals a week, June 2-26. At the same time, these visiting artists will be teaching (and judging) young artists who’ve come to the PianoTexas academy. The young artists will  be competing June 10-11, using Beethoven’s five piano concerti. And then there will be a young artists’ chamber group as well, with such guest artists as Van Cliburn gold medalist Jose Feghali. And they’ll perform the piano trios in a series of master classes, June 12-16.

In addition to all that, when necessary, the pianists will be accompanied by the Fort Worth Symphony, guest-conducted by Leon Fleisher and Geoffrey Simon, when it’s not led by Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

You get the picture. In June, North Texas is going to be wall-to-wall Ludwig.

PianoTexas actually started as part of the 6th Van Cliburn Piano Competition in 1981 — as a way of utilizing the Van Cliburn’s quadrennial collection of talent to teach master classes to serious piano students. By 1990, PT had spun off into an annual, independent festival and summer workshop.