The French-Canadian pianist and composer, Marc-André Hamelin, began his piano studies at the age of 5 and was 9 years old when he won the top prize in a Canadian music competition. His father, a pharmacist by trade who was also a keen pianist, introduced him to the works of Charles-Valentin Alkan, Leopold Godowsky and Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji when he was still very young. From the age of 9, he studied at the Ecole Vincent d'Indy in Montréal Yvonne Hubert and Sister Rita de la Croix, and then at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with Harvey D. Wedeen and Russell Sherman. A popular rumour is that he learned K.S. Sorabji's Opus Clavicembalisticum at the age of 17; in fact, although he did study this work at that time, he did not learn it completely. He was the page turner for Geoffrey Douglas Madge in a performance of this piece in Montréal in 1984.
In 1982 Marc-André Hamelin came first in the International Stepping Stones of the Canadian Music Competitions and won first prize at the International Piano Competition in Pretoria, South Africa. In 1985 he was awarded first prize at Carnegie Hall's International Competition of American Music, which entailed numerous engagements in the USA with well-known orchestras, an important series of recitals (including at Carnegie Hall), and a recording contract with New World Records.
Well established in both North America and Europe, Marc-André Hamelin has given recitals in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Berlin, Birmingham, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Mexico City, Milan, Montreal, Moscow, New York, Ottawa, Paris, Philadelphia, Québec, San Juan Puerto Rico, De Doelen Rotterdam, Toronto, Vienna, Washington and Warsaw. Festival appearances have included Bad Kissingen, Belfast, Cervantino, La Grange de Meslay, Husum Piano Rarities, Lanaudière, Ravinia, La Roque d’Anthéron, Ruhr Piano, Scotia (Halifax), Singapore Piano, Snape Maltings Proms, Turku and Ottawa Strings of the Future, as well as the Chopin Festivals of Bagatelles (Paris), Duszniki and Valldemossa. Following the success of his 1994 Wigmore Hall series Virtuoso Romantics, Marc-André Hamelin appears regularly in both the Wigmore Hall Master-concert Series and the International Piano Series at London’s South Bank Centre. He plays annually in the Herkules-Saal in Munich and has given a series of six recitals in Tokyo entitled 200 Years of Pianism with Marc-André Hamelin. He performed at Lincoln Center in New York with the Manhattan Philharmonic Orchestra and the Riverside Symphony Orchestra, in Ottawa with the NACO, and with the symphony orchestras of several major centres including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Quebec City, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra. In 1987 he was a soloist with the MSO during its European tour. The Canada Council awarded him the Sylva Gelber Foundation Award in 1987 and the Virginia P. Moore Prize in 1989.
Marc-André Hamelin formed a duo with cellist Sophie Rolland in 1989; in 1991 they performed the complete works of Beethoven in Montreal, London, and New York. Hamelin also accompanied the soprano Karina Gauvin, and regularly performed a program of cabaret music with his wife, the US soprano Jody Karin Applebaum, which they also recorded.
Marc-André Hamelin Hamelin is internationally renowned for his effortless musical virtuosity and refined pianism - many regard him as the supreme technician of the instrument. He is ranked among the elite of world pianists for his unrivaled blend of musicianship and virtuosity in the great works of the established repertoire, as well as for his intrepid exploration of the neglected music of the 19th and 20th centuries. Perhaps best known for his attention to lesser-known composers especially of the late 19th and early 20th century (Leo Ornstein, Nikolai Roslavets, Georgy Catoire, Charles Ives), and for performing difficult works by pianist-composers such as Leopold Godowsky, Charles-Valentin Alkan and Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, he is equally at home with the standard repertoire. His recitals were characterized by a determination to introduce little-known repertoire from all periods, although he was equally adept at the standard concerto repertoire. In addition, he premiered many works by Canadian and USA composers. He made his London debut in 1992 and returned often to Wigmore Hall. He performed, as soloist and with orchestras, in most major North American and European cities as well as in Japan, Malaysia, Australia, and Mexico, and was a regular guest in Munich and at the Lanaudière and other Canadian and European festivals. A member of Piano Six, Hamelin also toured to smaller Canadian centres.
Marc-André Hamelin begins the 2016-2017 season with summer festival appearances at the Schubertiade, Verbier, Lofoton, Salzburg, and recitals at Tanglewood, Domaine Forget, Aspen, and La Jolla, where the La Jolla Music Society commissioned Hamelin to write a piano/cello sonata for himself and cellist Hai-Ye Ni. His orchestral engagements this season include weeks with the Montreal Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra; Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphonieorchester with Kirill Petrenko; NDR Hanover, and the symphony orchestras in Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Oregon, Bologna, Montpellier, and the Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. Recitals include the Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonic, The Gilmore Festival, the 92nd St Y in New York, and in Cleveland, Chicago, Toronto and more. He also ventures to China for a set of recitals at the Shanghai Concert Hall. Of particular pleasure to Hamelin is the opportunity to make his debut in China this season, with two recitals in the legendary Shanghai Concert Hall in November. A special project for the season will be duo recitals with Leif Ove Andsnes in Europe at Wigmore Hall in London, Rotterdam, Dublin, and Italy; and in North America with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Performances, Washington Performing Arts, The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Chicago Symphony Presents, and Carnegie Hall. With the Pacifica Quartet, he will tour the world premiere of his own piano quintet, commissioned by the Segerstrom Center in Orange County, California, and concludes the season as a juror at the Cliburn Piano Competition, for which he has been commissioned to write the compulsory solo work for the contestants.
Marc-André began composing for the piano at age 19; he later recorded several of his own études. He also wrote difficult arrangements of piano works by Franz Liszt and Chopin. Among his works is a projected set of 12 piano études in minor keys, of which six are completed. The twelfth in the cycle, a Prelude and Fugue, has been published by Doberman-Yppan; a cycle of seven pieces, called Con Intimissimo Sentimento, was published (with a recording by Hamelin) by Ongaku No Tomo Sha; and a transcription of Zequinha de Abreu's Tico-Tico No Fuba has been published by Schott Music. Although the majority of his compositions are for piano solo, he has also written three pieces for player-piano, and several works for other forces, including Three Fanfares for three trumpets, published by Presser. other works are distributed by the Sorabji Archive.
Marc-André Hamelin recorded around 60 discs by 2016, most with the Hyperion label. His Hyperion discography of over 50 recordings includes concertos and works for solo piano by lesser-known composers whose works he championed, particularly Leopold Godowsky, Charles-Valentin Alkan, and Medtner, as well as brilliantly received performances of Johannes Brahms, Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann and Dmitri Shostakovich. A four-time Juno award winner (1996-1998 and 2003), Hamelin performed on the Grammy telecast in 2001. Several of his recordings were nominated for Grammy awards. His recording L. Godowsky's Complete Studies on Chopin's Etudes (Hyperion) received the 2000 Gramophone Instrumental Award and several critics' choice awards. In 1991 he recorded Eckhardt-Gramatté's Six Piano Sonatas (Altarus). He has devoted CD's to solo piano music of Albeniz, C.V. Alkan, G. Catoire, Sophie Eckhardt-Grammaté, L. Godowsky, Grainger, Haydn, Nikolai Kapustin, F. Liszt, Medtner, Ornstein, Max Reger, Roslavets, R. Schumann, Scriabin, K.S. Sorabji, Szymanowski and Heitor Villa-Lobos, and including many other composers on other recordings. He has also recorded several piano concerti, and a number of discs of chamber music and as an accompanist. His latest recording is a 2-CD set with the Haydn piano sonatas for the Hyperion label.
His most recent releases is D. Shostakovich's Piano Quintet with the Takács Quartet which followed a solo disc of W.A. Mozart's sonatas. He was honored with the 2014 ECHO Klassik Instrumentalist of Year (Piano) and Disc of the Year by Diapason Magazine and Classica Magazine for his three disc set of Ferruccio Busoni: Late Piano Music. Other recent recordings include Debussy Images and Préludes Book II, Haydn concertos with Les Violons du Roy and Bernard Labadie, three double-disc sets of Haydn sonatas; and an album of his own compositions, Hamelin: Études, which received a 2010 Grammy nomination (his ninth) and a first prize from the German Record Critics’ Association. The Hamelin études are published by Edition Peters.
Referred to as a 'powerful, poetic young Canadian pianist' by Andrew Porter in The New Yorker (May 22, 1989), Marc-André Hamelin was admired around the world for his formidably virtuosic technique and vast repertoire. He is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the German Record Critic’s Association. In 2003 he has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Chevalier de l'Ordre national du Québec (National Order of Quebec), and a member of the Royal Society of Canada. He was also the subject of the book The Composer-Pianists: Hamelin and The Eight. As of 2003 Hamelin lived in Philadelphia, returning regularly to Canada to perform. In 2004 he received the international record award in Cannes. He is currently (2016) a resident of Boston.