MALCOLM BILSON has been in the forefront of the period instrument movement since the early 1970s. His performances of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven and Schubert on late 18th and early 19th century pianos have been a key contributor to the restoration of the fortepiano to the concert stage and to recordings of the mainstream repertory. He has recorded the three most important complete cycles of works for piano by Mozart: the Piano Concertos with John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists for Deutsche Grammophon/Archiv, the solo Pianos Sonatas for Hungaroton and the Piano-Violin Sonatas with Sergiu Luca for Nonesuch, along with numerous other solo and chamber music disks for various labels. He has also toured extensively with the English Baroque Soloists with John Eliot Gardiner, the Academy of Ancient Music with Christopher Hogwood, the Philharmonia Baroque under Nicholas McGegan, Tafelmusik of Toronto and Concerto Köln in addition to other early and modern instrument orchestras around the world.
Since the mid-1980s Bilson has been focusing his attention increasingly on the piano literature of the 19th century. The Piano-Cello Sonatas of Beethoven with Anner Bylsma are on the Nonesuch label, and his traversal of the Schubert Piano sonatas on period pianos for Hungaroton (including the so-called incomplete sonatas) was completed in 2003. For Deutsche Grammophon a disc of Schubert’s four-hand music with Robert Levin appeared in November, 1997, and in March, 2005 a single CD of Haydn Keyboard Sonatas appeared on the Claves label.
In the fall of 1994 Bilson and six of his former artist-pupils presented the 32 Piano Sonatas of Beethoven in New City, the first time these works had ever been given as a cycle on period instruments. The New York Times said that “what emerged in these performances was an unusually clear sense of how revolutionary these works must have sounded in their time.” In 1996 the group recorded the series for Claves; it has recently been reissued.
Bilson teaches and lectures extensively around the world. As the Frederick J. Whiton Professor of Music at Cornell University, he directs keyboard studies in 18th Century Historical Performance Practice. He is likewise Adjunct Professor at the Eastman School of Music. In 1991 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Bard College, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In the Fall of 2005 a 2 ½ hour DVD entitled “Knowing the Score – Do We Really Know How to Read Urtext Editions and How Can This Lead to More Expressive, even Passionate Playing” was released; information can be seen at www.knowingthescore.com.