Michael Gees


The German pianist, improviser and composer, Michael Gees, had the piano as his favourite toy when he was 3. He started piano lessons at the age of 5. In 1961, at age 8, he won the first prize at the Hamburg Steinway Competition and at the Student Competition hosted by the Salzburg Mozarteum, where he subsequently studied. He made his concert debut in his native Bielefeld in 1963. Acclaimed as the “Westphalian Mozart”, he studied with Seydlhofer and David at the Vienna Musikhochschule before pursuing his training in Detmold and Hannover.

It and it seemed as if nothing more stood in the way of Michael Gees's career as a pianist. But the longing of the gifted child to explore the world of sounds in his own peculiar way was stronger; to re-invent it as it were from tone to tone, rather than practise technique. The “wunderkind” fled from the arena of the predicted career via music competitions and so forth, ran away from school, university and parental home, jobbed around to earn his living, also as an archaeological assistant, and went to sea for two years.

In 1974 a chance opportunity cropped up to study at the University of Music and Theatre in Hannover. Michael Gees developed his skills as a pianist in an individual way, composed, and became internationally renowned as a superlative Lied accompanist, playing recitals all over the world. His playing revives a long forgotten tradition: that of embellishing an established work with extemporised passages. In 1986, he appeared as composer, soloist and accompanist at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. He has performed Lieder with such singers as mezzo-soprano Elivra Bill, baritone Michael Dahmen, mezzo-soprano Ingeborg Danz, soprano Katariina Järvinen, tenor Christoph Prégardien, and soprano Anna Lucia Richter, among others. In 2001 he opened his Consol Theater in Gelsenkirchen, a concept of his own. Children, young people and adults are inspired and encouraged here to discover their own artistic impulses and put them into practice.

Several CD's with Michael Gees have been released on CPO and EMI, and on his own label Kunstvereint. He has been recording for Challenge Classics since 2007. "Die Schöne Müllerin" with Christoph Prégardien released on this label won the MIDEM Classical Award in 2009 and was also nominated Recording of the Year.

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