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Last modified: Tuesday, November 16, 2010

IU Distinguished Professor Menahem Pressler awarded Chinese professorship

Nov. 16, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Distinguished Professor Menahem Pressler, world-renowned pianist and faculty member at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, has been awarded an honorary professorship at China's Beijing Central Conservatory of Music (CCOM).

He joins the ranks of violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern, among other Western classical musicians who have received the honor.

The Oct. 14 announcement of the award by Conservatory President Wang Cizhao coincided with a performance at Beijing's Forbidden City Concert Hall by the China Youth Symphony Orchestra, in which Pressler performed two concerti. Pressler's residency in Beijing, marking his first visit to the country, also included a series of master classes for students at the Central Conservatory of Music.

Menahem Pressler

Print-Quality Photo

"I was deeply honored by the award and touched by the way in which the students performed," Pressler said. "During my time there, I was also fortunate to teach some of the top pianists at both the collegiate and high school levels."

The visit to China preceded a concert three days later by Pressler and Friends at St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ in Saint Paul, Minn., during which Mayor Christopher Coleman proclaimed Oct. 17 Menahem Pressler Day. Other members of the ensemble were Jacobs School professors Alexander Kerr, violin, and Eric Kim, cello, as well as violist Kim Kashkashian.

About Menahem Pressler

A founding member and pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio, Menahem Pressler has established himself among the world's most distinguished and honored musicians, with a career that spans over five decades. Now in his 87th year, 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. His 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, Helsinki and many others.

Pressler was co-founder and only pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio for nearly 55 years. The 2007-2008 season was nothing short of bittersweet, as violinist Daniel Hope, cellist Antonio Meneses and Pressler took their final bows as the Beaux Arts Trio, which marked the end of one of the most celebrated and revered chamber music careers of all time. Pressler continues to dazzle audiences throughout the world, both as piano soloist and collaborating chamber musician, including performances with the Juilliard, Emerson, American and Cleveland Quartets, among many others.

For nearly 60 years, Pressler has taught on the piano faculty at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he currently holds the rank of Distinguished Professor of Music as the Charles Webb Chair. His former students grace the faculties of prestigious schools of music across the world and have become some of the most prominent and influential artists and teachers today. In addition to teaching his private students at Jacobs, he continuously presents master classes throughout the world and continues to serve on the jury of many major international piano competitions.

Among his numerous honors and awards, Pressler has received honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the North Carolina School of the Arts, six Grammy nominations (including one in 2006), 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. In 2007, 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, he received two additional awards of international merit: the German President's Deutsche Bundesverdienstkreuz (German 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.

In addition to recording nearly the entire piano chamber repertoire with the Beaux Arts Trio on the Philips label, Pressler has compiled over 30 solo recordings, ranging from the works of Bach to Ben Haim.