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Friday, December 16, 2011

Last modified: Friday, December 16, 2011

IU Distinguished Professor of Piano Menahem Pressler wins national achievement award

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Dec. 16, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- From performances at Greenwich Village cabaret Le Poisson Rouge to virtually all the worlds' grandest concert halls, Menahem Pressler, distinguished professor of piano at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, continues to prove why he is a music legend.

Pressler, who turns 88 on Dec. 16 and still frequently performs and receives honors around the globe, was recently selected to receive the 2012 Music Teachers National Association Achievement Award. He will accept the accolade March 27 at the group's national conference in New York City.

The award is the Music Teachers National Association's highest honor and is given only to those individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions to music and music teaching. Recipients are chosen by the group's board of directors and include Van Cliburn, Dave Brubeck, Leon Fleisher, Ross Lee Finney, Henry Steinway, William Bolcom and Joan Morris, Alan Walker and Warren Jones.

"Menahem is a passionate and dedicated teacher and performer, having shaped the musical lives of legions of talented young people, earning their lifelong admiration and devotion," said Gwyn Richards, dean of the Jacobs School of Music. "Many of his former students have focused on pedagogy and become recognized teachers in their own right. Therefore it is fitting for the MTNA, which has done so much to further the cultural life of our nation, to honor him in this way.

"Menahem is an international citizen of the musical world; claimed as a favorite son by several countries. And while he could call anywhere home, we are honored that his home has been Indiana for 57 of his 88 years."

The honor is yet another in a long line for Pressler, founder of the Beaux Arts Trio, whose career spans six decades.

On Oct. 14, 2011, he accepted the prestigious Wigmore Medal, which honors international artists and figures from the world of classical music who have made a significant contribution to London's Wigmore Hall.

Other recent awards for Pressler include a lifetime achievement award from the International Classical Music Awards, an honorary professorship at China's Beijing Central Conservatory of Music, the German President's Cross of Merit First Class -- Germany's highest honor -- and the Commandeur in the Order of Arts and Letters award -- France's highest cultural honor.

He was presented with the first copy of his most recent biography -- "Always Something New to Discover: Menahem Pressler and the Beaux Arts Trio" (Paragon Publishing, 2011) -- by the book's author, Cynthia Wilson, last month at the Concertgebouw concert hall in Amsterdam.

The robust octogenarian is also featured in "A Natural History of the Piano" (Knopf, 2011), published last month. Author Stuart Isacoff calls Pressler "one of classical music's most revered performers" and a "bullet train without brakes."

In between teaching, adjudicating and performing internationally the past several months, Pressler participated in an August ceremony in Taiwan with President Ma Ying-jeou and former President of the Republic of South Africa F.W. de Klerk.

Highlights next year include Pressler premiering a solo piano piece written for him by György Kurtág at England's Aldeburgh Festival in June -- an event the composer will attend.

"György Kurtág is one of the most important composers of the day and one of the finest musicians I know," Pressler said. "I love him, respect him, fear him."

December 2012 will find Pressler on a two-week North American tour with tenor Christoph Prégardien, performing Schubert's song cycle "Winterreise." A Bloomington performance is scheduled for Dec. 16, 2012, Pressler's 89th birthday. The pair will also perform the work at Switzerland's Verbier Festival and the Cité de la Musique in Paris.

For more information about Pressler, including an extended biography, visit

For more information about the IU Jacobs School of Music, visit

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