David Lively © Philippe Matsas

David Lively


The American pianist David Lively holds a unique place in the music world, thanks to his virtuosity, the scope of his knowledge, and the depth of his interpretations. From his precocious début in the United States, he was brought by the French government to continue his music studies in France. His career was launched thanks to international prizes that he began collecting at the age of eighteen, including the Geneva Competition, and less than a year later, the Queen Elisabeth Competition, where he was the youngest and most ovationed prize-winner. Shortly thereafter, his distinctions were to include the Dino Ciani Prize of La Scala of Milan and two coveted awards of the Tchaikovsky Competition including the Special Prize for Contemporary Music.

Ever since his début, David Lively sought the most influential artists for his artistic development. His studies with Claudio Arrau, Wilhelm Kempff, Nadia Boulanger, Erich Leinsdorf broadened his horizons. Studies of the manuscripts and the use, also in concerts, of historic instruments have also enriched his interpretations of the masterpieces of the repertoire. The University of Music of Vienna recognized his mastery naming him Guest Professor.

His attachment to modern music resulted in friendship with Aaron Copland and Henri Dutilleux, whose major piano works of both he recorded, and especially Elliott Carter, whose works he champions. The Finnish repertoire is not neglected, particularly the piano works of his friends Kaija Saariaho and Magnus Lindberg, lately for the Ircam ManiFeste festival at the Paris Centre Pompidou.

His many recordings include particularly the giant concertos of the Romantic and post-Romantic periods: Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Busoni, Furtwängler and the two concertos of Joseph Marx. The Swiss composer William Blank wrote his major piano concerto ‘Reflecting Black’ for him which he premiered with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande with Dennis Russell Davies and recorded with Pascal Rophé, CD recently released for Aéon.

His latest recordings also include early 20th-century chamber music with Pierre Amoyal for Cypres label and the complete piano works of Philippe Boesmans, Belgium’s most celebrated contemporary composer. To be mentioned, the 4 CD album of complete chamber works of César Franck in collaboration with Die Munt Opera of Brussels including three major works never recorded. Also recently released, the piano concerto of Benoît Mernier. Last month, he recorded an historically informed interpretation of the chamber version of the Chopin concertos on an Erard 1836 with the Cambini Quartet for Aparté Music.

He has returned to his alma mater, the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris as Dean of Exams ensuring the calibre of highest demands at the famous school founded by Alfred Cortot.

More specifically, the legendary course given by Wilhelm Kempff in Positano Italy, his studies with Claudio Arrau and Erich Leinsdorf focusing on Beethoven as well as his performances of the concertos with Paavo Berglund, Ferdinand Leitner, Michael Gielen, Yuri Ahronovitch, Libor Pesek, Zdenek Macal and has informed his Beethoven interpretation.