Peter Orth



Competition Winner

Born: (Philadelphia, PA)

Peter Orth, was named the first prizewinner of the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation's 1979 Piano Competition, that year, held in the memory of William Kapell.  He studied at The Juilliard School on full scholarship, where he was a pupil of Adele Marcus.

After his studies in New York, he studied at the Marlboro Festival at the invitation of Rudolf Serkin, and subsequently studied with Serkin at his Institute for Young Performing Musicians in Vermont. Later, Orth encountered Sergiu Celibidache in Germany, for whom he played much of his repertoire. In Boston he coached for several years with Paul Doguereau who knew Ravel, and had himself studied with the Busoni pupil Egon Petri as well as Emil von Sauer and Ignace Paderewski.

The Naumburg Prize brought Orth acclaimed New York debuts, alongside engagements with major Orchestras as well as Chamber Music performances with ‘Music from Marlboro’. He played with Zubin Mehta, Leonard Slatkin, Herbert Blomstedt, Karil Kondrashin, James Conlin with Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and the New York Philharmonic. Orth made his Carnegie Hall Orchestra debut with Sergiu Commissiona and the American Symphony. He also was given the Shura Cherkassky Prize by the ’92’nd Street Y’ in New York where he often played.

In 1991 Orth met the German Auryn String Quartet at the Kuhmo Festival in Finland which culminated in Orth’s moving to Germany and eventually recording most of the Piano Quintet literature with them. Arriving to live in Germany in 1992 presented a unique situation for Orth, as he had no infrastructure or history there professionally. He has since played extensively in Europe with tours of Holland, Italy and Ireland, while maintaining a close artistic relationship with the Auryn Quartet.

Orth was Professor pf Piano and Chamber Music at the Detmold Hochschule for Musik in Detmold from 2010. For the first of his recordings for the Challenge Label his Diabelli Variations received the Classic Central Golden Label Award.  

Excerpt from The New York Times review, October 15, 2007

Music Review I Peter Orth

Tackling Familiar Repertory with Tenderness and Fervor

"When the Philadelphia-born Peter Orth took first prize in the 1979 Naumburg International Piano Competition, he seemed poised for a major career. Since then he has played in recital halls and with orchestras around the world. Still, for whatever reasons, he has had more success in Europe than in his native country and has been living in Cologne, Germany, since 1992.

Mr. Orth has an ardent following in New York, his recital on Friday night at Zankel Hall, sponsored by the Hausmusik-Meet the Artist series.

Beethoven’s Sonata in E (Op. 109) ... followed with Chopin’s complete 24 Preludes...After intermission he took on the mighty Sonata in B minor by Liszt.. Mr. Orth was most impressive in the Liszt, a notoriously difficult piece to bring off.  Mr. Orth conveyed the music’s volatility while making the score seem one long, inevitable arc of inspiration. He dispatched the cascades of octaves and knotty passage work with command...his steely, crashing fortissimos were perfect for the Liszt. Frenzied climaxes came across with brassy orchestral fervor. That he can play with tenderness was clear during the sonata’s strangely ruminative passages, exceptionally well paced and shaped here.

Mr. Orth also gave a distinctive account of the Beethoven...he captured its mysticism and fantasy...this was a fine performance...In his encore, “The Maiden and the Nightingale” from Granados’s “Goyescas,” Mr. Orth was at his subtlest and most elegant." Anthony Tommasini


1979 Piano Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

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Naumburg Performances

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Recording Awards

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