Mitsuko Uchida is a performer who brings deep insight into the music she plays through her own search for truth and beauty. She is renowned for her interpretations of Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven, both in the concert hall and on recordings, but she has also illuminated the music of Berg, Schoenberg, Webern and Boulez for a new generation of listeners.
Uchida was born in Atami, near Tokyo and moved to Vienna when she was twelve years old. She studied with Richard Hauser at the Vienna Academy of Music, and later with Wilhelm Kempff and Stefan Askenase. She gave her first Viennese recital at the Vienna Musikverein at the age of only 14. In 1969 she won first prize at the Beethoven Competition in Vienna, in 1970 the second prize at the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition, and in 1975 the second prize at the Leeds Piano Competition.
Uchida performs throughout the world with many different artistic partners. 2012 featured Mozart concertos in Chicago and Cleveland, the Schoenberg concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic (Boulez) and the Philharmonia (Salonen), and the late Schubert sonatas throughout Europe and the USA. The year’s chamber collaborations included Magdalena Kožená (Wigmore Hall, Prague Spring Festival and Perugia) and the Quatuor Ébène (the Franck Piano Quintet in Heidelberg and at the Salzburg Mozart Week). 2013 included Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto with Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh and Lucerne festivals; more Mozart with the Cleveland and Chicago Symphony orchestras as well as with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Spain and Portugal; Beethoven Concertos 2 and 3 with the Cleveland Orchestra under Leon Fleisher; Mozart and Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Andris Nelsons); Schoenberg/Schumann recitals throughout Europe, the USA and Japan; recitals with soprano Dorothea Röschmann and chamber music “with friends” at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
She has enjoyed close relationships over many years with the world’s most renowned orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and – in the US – the Chicago Symphony and The Cleveland Orchestra, with whom she recently celebrated her 100th performance at Severance Hall. Conductors with whom she has worked closely have included Bernard Haitink, Sir Simon Rattle, Riccardo Muti, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Vladimir Jurowski, Andris Nelsons, Gustavo Dudamel, and Mariss Jansons.
Since 2016, Mitsuko Uchida has been an Artistic Partner of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with whom she is currently engaged on a multi-season touring project in Europe, Japan and North America. She also appears regularly in recital in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, New York and Tokyo, and is a frequent guest at the Salzburg Mozartwoche and Salzburg Festival.
Uchida records exclusively for Decca. Her recording of the Schoenberg Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez and The Cleveland Orchestra won four awards, including the Gramophone Award for “Best Concerto”, while her recording of Beethoven’s Sonatas opp. 101 and 106 won two BBC Music Magazine Awards 2008 in the categories “Disc of the Year” and “Instrumentalist of the Year”. For her album with Mozart’s Piano Concertos nos. 23 and 24 she was awarded a Grammy for “Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra”. Her discography includes the complete Mozart Piano Sonatas and Piano Concertos, the complete Schubert Piano Sonatas, the five Beethoven Piano Concertos with Kurt Sanderling, and the last five Beethoven Piano Sonatas. In 2008 she released Berg’s Chamber Concerto with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Pierre Boulez and Christian Tetzlaff and in 2010 she marked Schumann’s bicentenary with her first recording of the Davidsbündlertänze and the Fantasy in C major.
In 2009, Uchida released Mozart’s Piano Concertos nos. 23 and 24 with The Cleveland Orchestra, which she conducted from the piano, continuing that series in 2011 with Concertos nos. 20 and 27 and in 2012 with Concertos nos. 9 and 21. A Schumann recital comprising the Piano Sonata no. 2 op. 22, Waldszenen op. 82 and the late Gesänge der Frühe op. 133 appeared in September 2013. Her latest Decca release, to be issued in August 2014, is another instalment of the ongoing Mozart series from Cleveland. It contains Concertos nos. 18 and 19.
Uchida has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to aiding the development of young musicians and is a trustee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. She is also co-director, with Richard Goode, of the Marlboro Music Festival. In June 2009 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and in May 2012 she was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal.