Charles Neidich



Competition Winner

Clarinetist and conductor, Charles Neidich has gained worldwide recognition as one of the most mesmerizing virtuosos performing today. With a tone of hypnotic beauty and a dazzling technique, Mr. Neidich has received unanimous accolades from critics and fellow musicians both in the United States and abroad; but it is his musical intelligence in scores as diverse as Mozart and Elliott Carter that has earned for Mr. Neidich a unique place among clarinetists. In the words of The New Yorker, "He's an artist of uncommon merit - a master of his instrument and, beyond that, an interpreter who keeps listeners hanging on each phrase."

An ardent exponent of new music and a composer himself, he has expanded the technical and expressive possibilities of the clarinet and has championed the works of many of the world’s most important composers. He is a leading performer on period instruments and has restored and reconstructed original versions of works by composers from Mozart to Copland.

In wide demand as a soloist, Mr. Neidich has collaborated with some of the world's leading orchestras and ensembles, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the MDR, the Berlin Radio Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, San Diego Symphony, New City Chamber Orchestra of San Francisco, Yomiuri Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Tafelmusik, the Handel/Haydn Society, the Norwegian Baroque Orchestra, the Juilliard, Guarneri, American, Mendelssohn, Telegraph, and Parker String Quartets and the Peabody Trio. He has made his mark not only as an instrumentalist, but also as an innovative programmer and student of period instrument performance practice. An avid chamber musician, Mr. Neidich is a member of the renowned New York Woodwind Quintet and is a member emeritus of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

Mr. Neidich commands a repertoire of over 200 solo works, including pieces written, commissioned or inspired by him, as well as his own transcriptions of vocal and instrumental works. A noted exponent of 20th century music, he has premiered works by Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Edison Denisov, William Schuman, Ralph Shapey, Joan Tower, and other leading contemporary composers. With a growing discography to his credit, Mr. Neidich can be heard on the Chandos, Sony Classical, Sony Vivarte, Deutsche Grammophon, Musicmasters, Pantheon, Bridge, and Bremen Music Hall labels. His recorded repertoire ranges from familiar works by Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, and Brahms, to lesser-known compositions by Danzi, Reicha, Rossini, and Hummel, as well as music by Elliott Carter, Gyorgy Kurtag, Ursula Mamlok, Ralph Shapey, and other contemporary masters. Mr. Neidich received a rave review from Heuwell Tircuit in Fanfare for his Sony recording of Robert Schumann's Sonatas Op. 105 and 121 and the Three Romances, Op. 94:

“... Indeed, the First Sonata (a major masterpiece) seems even more expressive on clarinet -- at least as Neidich plays it. Besides sheer enjoyment, I found myself moved by this performance." 

Mr. Neidich’s re-recording on historical instruments of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, 26 years after his celebrated recording with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, was reviewed by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim in the New York Times: 

“...Charles Neidich’s reading of Mozart’s Concerto for Basset Clarinet in A (KV 622) radiates sunny serenity. But over the course of the following works, including Druzecky’s Concerto for three basset horns and orchestra in F and a reconstruction of Mozart’s Adagio in F for clarinet and three basset horns (KV 580a), the music takes on an inescapably narcotic quality.”

Mr. Neidich has performed at numerous summer festivals and in addition to the Sarasota Summer Music festival appears at the Marlboro Music Festival, the Orford and Domaine Forget Festivals in Canada, the International Stichting Masterclass Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, the Kryzowa Music Festival in Poland, and the Masterclasses of the Liszt Conservatory in Weimar, Germany.

A native New Yorker of Belarussian and Greek descent, Charles Neidich had his first clarinet lessons with his father, and his first piano lessons with his mother. Mr. Neidich's early musical idols were Fritz Kreisler, Artur Schnabel, Maria Callas, and other violinists, pianists, and vocalists rather than clarinetists.

The clarinet, however, won out over time, and he pursued studies with the famed pedagogue Leon Russianoff. Although Mr. Neidich became quite active in music at an early age, he opted against attending a music conservatory in favor of academic studies at Yale University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in Anthropology. While at Yale, he received the Selden Prize for musicianship and scholarship. In 1975 he became the first American to receive a Fulbright grant for study in the former Soviet Union. He attended the Moscow Conservatory for three years where his teachers were clarinetist, Boris Dikov and pianist, Kirill Vinogradov.

In 1985 Mr. Neidich became the first clarinetist to win the Walter W. Naumburg Competition, which brought him to prominence as a soloist. His European honors include top prizes at the Munich ARD International Competition, the Geneva and Accanthes International Competitions. 

As a conductor, Mr. Neidich is known for dynamically expressive performances ranging from historically informed repertoire to contemporary works. He has appeared as guest conductor with orchestras throughout the US, Europe, and in Asia most recently in acclaimed Beethoven programs with the Hyogo PAC Orchestra and Mozart programs with the Tokyo Philharmonic in Japan. He has also been featured in programs in the triple role of Conductor, Soloist, and Composer with the Tapiola Sinfonietta and the San Diego Symphony.

Mr. Neidich has achieved great recognition as a teacher in addition to his activities as a performer and is currently a member of the artist faculties of the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, the Mannes College of Music. In 2004, he was awarded the William Schuman Award for performance and scholarship at the Juilliard School and in 2018 he was awarded a lifetime membership in honor of his artistic achievements by the International Clarinet Society and a medal for lifetime achievement from the National Society of Arts and Letters.

Already in its 12th season, together with his wife, Ayako Oshima, he founded the Kitakaruizawa Music Seminar and in 2016, the acclaimed WA Concert Series in New York. Summing up his experience with the series throughout the 2017-18 season, Frank Daykin of New York Concert Review advised: “A word to the wise music lover: Run, don’t walk, to this series”

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