The English pianist, Freddy Kempf, was born in London to a German father and a Japanese mother. He currently lives in London. His first public appearance was at the age of 4 in a church in Folkestone, England. He first caught the attention of British concertgoers four years later when he played W.A. Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12, K. 414, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall. The child virtuoso was shortly invited to Germany to repeat his performance. In 1987, he won the first National Mozart Competition in England. He came to national prominence in 1992 when he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition following a memorable performance of Sergei Rachmaninov Paganini Variations.
In a controversial turn of events, the blossoming of Freddy Kempf's adult career ironically benefited from his failure to win the 1998 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, where the first prize in the piano section went instead to Denis Matsuev. Apparently, some judges had wanted to award the first prize jointly to Matsuev and Freddy Kempf and had successfully negotiated with the Russian Culture Ministry for the additional funding. However, Kempf collected only 3rd prize in the end, which provoked a barrage of indignant protests from the audience and the Russian press, who accused some of the judges of bias (especially towards contestants who also happened to be their former pupils) and cheating "the Hero of the Competition". In April 1999, Freddy Kempf re-entered the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in triumph, and a series of television broadcasts and sold-out concerts confirmed the high favor in which the Russian public held him. His triumphant return prompted the headline "Young pianist conquers Moscow" in the International Herald Tribune. Kempf's popularity has been compared with that garnered by American pianist Van Cliburn who, in a different result in 1958, had won the inaugural Competition.
Freddy Kempf has continued to give warmly received performances of solo, chamber, and concertante music in Europe, the Americas, East Asia, and Australia, and has recorded recital discs of J.S. Bach, L.v. Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt, Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Robert Schumann.
In recent seasons performances include the complete L.v. Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Daniele Gatti; this extraordinary achievement was recognized by universal acclaim by critics and audiences alike. He also made his debut on subscription with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Wolfgang Sawallisch. Other engagements included City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Yuri Temirkanov and a tour of Japan with the Dresden Symphony with Günter Herbig, and he performed at the Musikverein in Vienna. A committed recitalist he has played at London’s Wigmore Hall, Gergiev’s Prokofiev Festival in Rotterdam, at the Piano Jacobins Festival in Toulouse and in Milan and Florence. He has played concertos with the Royal Scottish National, Spanish National, Berliner Symphoniker, Moscow State Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Sao Paulo State Symphony.
Last season (2005-2006) included performances with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Vassily Sinaisky, English Chamber Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis, Residentie Orkest Den Haag/Neeme Järvi, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and he returned to Japan for two major tours. Freddy Kempf has recently participated in an eleven date tour with the Bavarian Philharmonic Orchestra touring all the major concert venues in the UK. He presented two concertos at the Manchester Piano Festival and performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2006. His most recent concerts have included appearances at New York's 92nd Street “Y”, Salzburg Mozarteum, Cheltenham Festival, La Roque d'Anthéron Festival, Milan Conservatoire, Hamburg's Musikhalle and Zürich Tonhalle and his debut tour of Japan (which included solo and orchestral concerts culminating in a recital at Tokyo's Suntory Hall that was broadcast on radio and television). Upcoming invitations include engagements with the Tonhalle Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Freddy Kempf records exclusively for BIS Records, for whom he has recorded recital discs of L.v. Beethoven (x2), F. Chopin (x2), F. Liszt, Prokofiev, S. Rachmaninov, Robert Schumann and in March 2006 he released his first J.S. Bach recording. In 2001, he was voted Best Young British Classical Performer in the prestigious Classical Brit Awards.