Pianist Dimitris Sgouros is one of today's most sought-after classical artists. As orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, he has garnered an enviable reputation as a performer whose commanding virtuosity and impassioned music-making are bringing new life to the concert stage.
Dimitris Sgouros was born in Athens on August 30th, 1969, and began his piano studies at the age of six and a half. Within eighteen months he gained a scholarship to the Athens Conservatory of Music, where he studied with the noted pianist-teacher Maria Herogiorgiou-Sigara. He gave his first piano recital in the Public Theatre of Piraeus in 1977 performing two of his own compositions, for which he also won two first prizes in the Composer's Competition in Sofia. He graduated from the Athens Conservatory in 1982 with a Professor's and Performer's Diploma, a First Prize and a Gold Medal. This was but one of several First Prizes he took at successive competitions between 1978 and 1983, among them the UNICEF Competition in Bulgaria in 1979, the competition at Ancona, Italy, in 1980, and two major competitions in Athens. These early successes established him as the pianist of choice to perform with visiting artists in Greece. In 1981 he gave his first performance outside Greece in Bologna, Italy, followed by appearances and tours in France, Switzerland, Holland and Venezuela. Sgouros began his orchestral career at the age of 11, performing a Mozart concerto with the Chamber Orchestra of Cannes under Phillip Bender. In the same year he performed in Germany with the Karlsruhe Chamber Orchestra in the palace where the seven-year-old Mozart had played.
In April 1982, his meteoric rise took him to Carnegie Hall in New York where he played one of the most demanding concertos in the piano repertoire, the 3rd of Rachmaninov with the National Symphony of Washington conducted by Rostropovich. This great Russian musician who has spoken of Sgouros as "a miracle - a creation from God" also conducted his London debut at the Royal Festival Hall with the same concerto in March 1983. Later in that year Sgouros returned to the Royal Festival Hall for his U.K. recital debut, and to give the U.K. premiere of the Symphonic Piano Concerto by Greek composer Kalomiris. Sgouros was fortunate to have the opportunity to play for the great Artur Rubinstein just a few months before his death. Rubinstein was deeply affected by Sgouros' playing and declared him the best pianist he had ever heard, which was an extraordinary tribute.
While pursuing his career as a concert artist, Sgouros continued his musical studies, first at the University of Maryland under Stewart Gordon, and then at the Royal Academy of Music in London under Guy Jonson (a pupil of Cortot and Rachmaninov) and Timothy Baxter, graduating with the highest mark ever awarded by that institution.
A phenomenal memory allows Sgouros to choose his programmes from a repertoire of over 45 concertos and hundreds of solo and chamber-music works (including the complete piano music of Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven). He has a passionate interest in opera and has in his memory the scores of all the great operas of Verdi and Puccini. Apart from music, Sgouros has shown exceptional ability in his mathematics studies at Athens University and Oxford University (St Peter's College) and an outstanding gift for languages. As well as his native Greek he is fluent in English, Spanish, Portugese, Italian and German. His concert schedule has included tours of the U.S.A., Russia, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Venezuela, South Africa and virtually every country in Europe.
He is a popular and familiar figure with German audiences, having toured repeatedly to major cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, as well as many smaller provincial towns. He has collaborated with all the major German orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, with which he made his now-legendary recording of the Rachmaninoff 3rd Piano Concerto on EMI, when aged only 14. And he memorably performed the Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto and Tchaikovsky Concert Fantasy Op 56 with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan and Mariss Jansons, respectively. In the wake of Germany's historic reunification, Kurt Masur invited him to appear as soloist with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in the Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto. They gave three hugely successful concerts together, Sgouros proving yet again his strong affinity for the core Germanic repertoire. His partnership with Lorin Maazel and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Prokofiev's 3rd Piano Concerto was noteworthy for its intense musical rapport.
Dimitris Sgouros has made five extended tours of Australia and New Zealand. They were among the greatest triumphs ever seen in those countries with dozens of solo and orchestral concerts played to capacity audiences in all the major venues including Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Concert Hall and Auckland Town Hall. Critics wrote countless columns of praise for Sgouros comparing his extraordinary technical ability with that of Liszt and Horowitz and delighting in his all-embracing musicianship which swept his audiences along with an intensity and excitement few performers of this or any other time have possessed.
A particular favourite of Asian audiences, Sgouros has given concerts in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. His three tours of Japan - in 1984, 1986, and 1993 - took in the major cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Yokohama and included solo recitals as well as orchestral performances with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, and the NHK Radio Symphony Orchestra.
In Athens in September 1988 Dimitris Sgouros gave his first performance with Russia's greatest conductor and orchestra - Yevgeni Svetlanov and the USSR State Symphony Orchestra. They performed together Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto to a capacity audience of 5000 in the Herodes Atticus Theatre which Sgouros has described as one of the greatest nights of his career. In May 1995, Sgouros performed in a gala recital at St James's Palace in London, attended by Their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden, HRH the Duke of Kent, and more than 300 other distinguished guests. In 1997 he was invited by Russian President Boris Yeltsin to Moscow as part of the celebrations marking the 850th anniversary of the founding of the city, performing Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto with the Russian State Philharmonic Cappella, under the baton of Valeri Polyansky. Sgouros also paid a memorable visit to Tchaikovsky Memorial House in Klin, Russia, performing on Tchaikovsky's own piano. In March 1999, Sgouros undertook his first tour of South Africa, giving solo recitals as well as orchestral performances with the National Symphony Orchestra of Johannesburg in the major centres of Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
In April 2000, Dimitris Sgouros appeared as solo recitalist in Carnegie Hall, performing masterpieces by Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. The New York Times said that his playing displayed "flashes of youthful virtuosity and magisterial poise." The American Record Guide went further, saying he "played with irresistible elegance and whimsy"; "emotional warmth"; and praising the "admirable structural clarity" of his interpretations.
The enthusiastic reception that greeted his historic return to Turkey in 2001 and 2002, recalled the momentous successes of his first appearances in that country in 1989 and 1990. Capacity audiences in Ankara and Istanbul were treated to solo recitals as well as orchestral performances with the Borusan Philharmonic under distinguished conductors Gürer Aykal and Emil Tabakov.
Other recent highlights of his concert diary include guest appearances at the 2000 Montpellier Festival in France, and the 2001 Spring Festivals in Athens, Bucharest, and Budapest. In 2003 he performed Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Myung-Whun Chung. In 2004 he appeared as soloist in Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto with the London Philharmonia under Vladimir Ashkenazy. And in 2007, he will play Liszt's 2nd Piano Concerto with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Ivan Fischer, and Chopin's 1st Piano Concerto with the Menton Festival Orchestra led by Jean Bernard Pommier.
In November 2007, he joined a star-studded lineup in Beijing for the 2008 Beijing Olympic cultural celebrations, performing Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra under Tan Lihua. He presented an invitation-only recital at the Purcell Room of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London's Southbank Centre in November 2008. The 2009 season took him to Berlin for a solo recital (March 2009) and appearing as soloist in Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra of London directed by Jiri Belohlavek. In 2010, Sgouros makes his debut appearance with the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra in the Ukraine, and takes centre stage in Ivan Fischer's Beethoven Marathon Festival in Budapest. As one of the foremost interpreters of Chopin, his appointment to the celebrations committee of Chopin 2010 comes as little surprise (the year 2010 having been officially declared Fryderyk Chopin Year by the Polish Parliament).
2011 witnessed his return to the gilded mansions of the Newport Music Festival in Rhode Island, with a Gala opening recital dedicated to the treasured memory of late Newport Music Festival Director Dr Mark P. Malkovich III.
In 2012, he opened the Festival of the Aegean in Greece and inaugurated the 2012/2013 seasons of the Mannheim Philharmonic and Qatar Philharmonic Orchestras. He ushered in 2013 with Orchestre National de France in Mozart's Piano Concerto No 21, and embarked on a major tour of Italy with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Ivan Fischer in May 2013. A wider European tour with the Budapest Festival Orchestra embracing The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Greece and Hungary is confirmed for the 2015/16 season. In recognition of his distinctive achievements, UNESCO conferred upon him their Prize for Arts, Sciences and Literature in May 2014.
Dimitris Sgouros has played in many of the world's most prestigious venues: London's Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Centre; New York's Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center; Salle Pleyelle de Paris; Berlin's Philharmonic Hall; Rome's Campidoglio; Vienna's Musikverein and Konzerthaus; Amsterdam's Concertgebouw; Tokyo's Suntory Hall; Athens' Odeon of Herodes Atticus; Australia's Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Concert Hall. He has collaborated with some of the world's best-known conductors and orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, London Symphony, BBC Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Oxford Symphony, Vienna Symphony, NHK Radio Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie, National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, Dallas & Fort Worth Symphonies, Manhattan Philharmonic and American Symphony of New York, Cleveland Symphony, Icelandic Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Auckland Philharmonic and many others. Frequent international tours have led him to the U.S.A., Russia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Venezuela, South Africa, and to virtually every European country.
Dimitris Sgouros is a perennial favourite of festival audiences, appearing at Newport (Rhode Island), Maryland, Lucerne, Prague Spring, Budapest Spring, Menton, Radio France. He is a frequent chamber music collaborator with some of today's most distinguished artists, including violinists Shlomo Mintz, Salvatore Accardo; the cellist Mischa Maisky; and ensembles such as the Borodin Quartet, Kodaly Quartet, Sharon Quartet, Komitas Quartet, Salzburg Pro Arte Quartet, Vienna Artis Quartet, and Zagreb Soloists.
Liszt, Horowitz, Rubinstein, Gilels, Michelangeli, Puccini, Strauss, Verdi, etc.
Has recorded for various labels including EMI. In homage of the Franz Liszt Anniversary Year in 2011, EMI/Warner Classics proudly announced a new double-CD set entitled "Essential Liszt" with landmark recordings by Dimitris Sgouros and other featured Liszt exponents of the modern era. Available NOW from Amazon:- http://tinyurl.com/3ztrh3c
A recording contract was sealed with Polymusic in 2019, and four new solo albums are planned for release (works of Beethoven, Liszt etc). These will be available through digital music platforms and all good CD shops.