The American pianist, Frederic Chiu, was born to a Chinese immigrant family. Critics count his Asian/American/ European background as one of his strengths, permitting him a wider point of view in studying the music he plays. On the other hand, his concert repertory is as centered on the classical European piano literature as that of any comparable player. Another part of his background gives him unusual insight into collaboration: his brother is a violinist, and as the pair was growing up Frederic often accompanied him. He has also an early and ongoing exploration of artificial intelligence and human psychology, especially the body-mind-heart connection. He attended Indiana University, where he pursued a double major in piano performance and computer science. His piano teacher at Indiana was Karen Shaw, a pianist known for her powerful virtuosic interpretations. While attending Indiana he frequently participated in the violin class of the late teacher Josef Gingold as a class accompanist. One of his acquaintances from those years was one of Gingold's greatest pupils, Joshua Bell. Chiu frequently accompanies Joshua Bell and also with Pierre Amoyal. After Indiana, he studied at the Juilliard School with Abbey Simon, Shaw's teacher.
At that point Frederic Chiu decided to base his performing career in Paris. Having settled in France, he co-founded (with violinist Philippe Graffin) the 1991 Consonance Festival in Saint Nazaire and participates regularly in it, often collaborating with Jeremy Menuhin, the St. Lawrence and Shanghai string quartets, Christian Ivaldi, Gary Hoffman, or Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
In 1993, already considered one of the quickest-rising young pianists, Frederic Chiu entered the Van Cliburn competition. His elimination before the final round resulted in a storm of protest, reminiscent of the 1980 scandal involving Ivo Pogorelich in the Chopin Competition. He received more publicity as a result than did the winner; The New York Times began referring to him as a "maverick pianist." Since then, he has received more positive recognition as the recipient of the Petscheck Award of the Juilliard School, the American Pianists Association Fellowship, and the 1996 Avery Fisher Career Grant.
Frederic Chiu has toured extensively in the USA and Europe, appearing with the major orchestras and in solo recitals in the major venues. He has performed in most of the major European cities, including Rome, Milan, Brussels, Antwerp, Berlin, Frankfurt, the Hague, Warsaw, Prague, and London. In North America he has appeared in the Place des Arts in Montreal, at the Ambassador Theatre in Pasadena, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Lincoln Center and the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. Frederic Chiu is a perennial guest at the Newport Music Festival and has traveled across the USA on extended recital tours with Community Concerts. His orient tours have taken him to Taiwan and Hong Kong with great success and is a permanent guest of the Beijing Central Conservatory as performer and teacher. His cosmopolitan background brings a unique approach to his music-making. "He has reinvented virtuosity...a phenomenon that must be heard." (Le Monde, Paris). Highlights of his performances include concerts with the BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Hartford Symphony, Orchestre de Bretagne of France, China National Symphony, Taipei National Symphony.
Frederic Chiu is also committed to expanding the place of classical music. He has created unusual collaborations with non-musicians, such as the Shakespearean actor Brian Bedford and psychologist/ writer/clown Howard Buten. He does extensive work with children through concert/lectures for schools, and has brought classical music to places where it is rarely heard. After 12 years spent in France, Frederic Chiu recently returned to the USA.
Frederic Chiu records for the French Harmonia Mundi label, with over 20 CDs on the market. He has completed several volumes of a critically acclaimed project to record all the piano music of Sergei Prokofiev, including the unpublished juvenilia and Chiu's own transcription of the suite from the film Lt. Kizhe. He is drawn to little-performed Romantic repertory, including the Felix Mendelssohn piano sonatas and the great virtuoso piano transcriptions of the era, especially those of Franz Liszt. He has given lecture-concerts on F. Liszt's piano version of the Schubert song cycle Schwanengesang, which he had recorded for Harmonia Mundi. He has also recorded transcriptions of music by Rossini and, more conventionally, Ravel's piano music and Chopin's Opus 10 etudes. Many have been singled out, such as "Record of the Year" by Stereo Review, "Top 10 recordings" by the New Yorker, with raves from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.