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Bard Faculty Member and Esteemed Pianist Jeremy Denk Named 2013 MacArthur Fellow

Mark Primoff
Jeremy Denk, esteemed pianist and faculty of The Bard College Conservatory of Music, has been named a 2013 MacArthur Fellow  Image Credit: Michael Wilson
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.Jeremy Denk, esteemed pianist and faculty of The Bard College Conservatory of Music, has been named a 2013 MacArthur Fellow. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Denk as one of the new fellows for 2013. MacArthur Fellowships are awarded to talented individuals in a variety of fields who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self direction. MacArthur Fellows each receive a $625,000 grant that is bestowed with no conditions—recipients may use the money as they see fit. Nominated anonymously by leaders in their respective fields and never notified of their candidacy, the recipients learn of their selection only when they receive a call from the MacArthur Foundation days before the public announcement. Denk is the 12th Bard faculty member to be honored with a MacArthur Fellowship.

“I am thrilled, honored, and a bit overwhelmed to receive the MacArthur Fellowship,” said Denk. “My mind is reeling with ideas how best to use the money and the gifts of time and artistic freedom it represents.”

“The Bard Conservatory is proud to have Jeremy Denk as a member of its piano faculty,” said Conservatory Director Robert Martin. “We congratulate him on this well-deserved award.”

Pianist Jeremy Denk regularly performs as soloist with distinguished orchestras; he frequently gives recitals in New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and throughout the United States. Last season he made his solo recital debut at the Wigmore Hall and returned to Carnegie Hall in recital. He also toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and gave a performance of six of Bach’s keyboard concertos in a single evening with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Denk opens this season with performances of the Goldberg Variations in Boston, Chicago, and Washington. He returns to Carnegie Hall on tour with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25.  He looks forward to performing and curating as artistic director of the 2014 Ojai Music Festival, for which he has composed the libretto to a semi-satirical opera, inspired by Charles Rosen’s The Classical Style, and featuring the characters of Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn. The opera will be also be presented by Carnegie Hall.

Denk is known for his original and insightful writing on music, praised by Alex Ross for its “arresting sensitivity and wit.” His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, and on the front page of the New York Times Book Review, and his website “think denk,”— recounting his experiences of touring, performing, and practicing—was recently selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress Web Archives.

In 2012, Denk made his debut as a Nonesuch Records artist with a pairing of masterpieces old and new: Beethoven’s final Piano Sonata and György Ligeti’s Etudes. The disc was named one of the best discs of 2012 by the The New Yorker, NPR, and the Washington Post, and Denk’s Beethoven Op. 111 was named the top recommendation of that piece on the modern piano by BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library. His recording of the Goldberg Variations was released in 2013. Denk has a long-standing attachment to the music of American visionary Charles Ives, and his recording of Ives’s two Piano Sonatas was selected for many “best of the year” lists. Last season, he was invited by Michael Tilson Thomas to appear as a soloist in the San Francisco Symphony’s “American Mavericks” festival, and he recorded Henry Cowell’s Piano Concerto with the orchestra. Denk has cultivated relationships with many living composers, and has several commissioning projects currently in progress.

Denk has toured frequently with violinist Joshua Bell, and their album French Impressions was recently released on the Sony Classical label, winning the 2012 ECHO Klassik award. He also regularly collaborates with cellist Steven Isserlis. He has appeared at numerous festivals, including the Italian and American Spoleto Festivals, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music, Verbier, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Aspen, and “Mostly Mozart” Festivals. He lives in New York City. His website and blog are at

Denk, a faculty member of The Bard College Conservatory of Music, received both a B.A. in chemistry from Oberlin College and a B.Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied with Joseph Schwartz. Denk earned a master’s degree in music from Indiana University as a pupil of Gyorgy Sebok, and a doctorate in piano performance from the Juilliard School, where he worked with Herbert Stessin.

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CAPTION INFO: Jeremy Denk, esteemed pianist and faculty of The Bard College Conservatory of Music, has been named a 2013 MacArthur Fellow.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Wilson


About the MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.

MacArthur is one of the nation’s largest independent foundations. Through the support it provides, the Foundation fosters the development of knowledge, nurtures individual creativity, strengthens institutions, helps improve public policy, and provides information to the public, primarily through support for public interest media.

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards five-year, unrestricted fellowships to individuals across all ages and fields who show exceptional merit and promise of continued creative work. It is limited to U.S. citizens and residents.

John D. MacArthur (1897-1978) developed and owned Bankers Life and Casualty Company and other businesses, as well as considerable property in Florida and New York. His wife Catherine (1909-1981) held positions in many of these companies and served as a director of the Foundation.


About The Bard College Conservatory of Music

Building on its distinguished history in the arts and education, Bard College launched The Bard College Conservatory of Music, which welcomed its first class in August 2005. This innovative five-year program of study is guided by the principle that musicians should be broadly educated in the liberal arts and sciences in order to achieve their greatest potential. All students complete two degrees, a bachelor of music and a bachelor of arts in a field other than music. The Conservatory also includes the Preparatory Division for young people up to the age of 18.

The Graduate Vocal Arts Program is a two-year master of music degree conceived by soprano Dawn Upshaw. The course work is designed to support a broad-based approach to a singing career that extends from standard repertory to new music. Weekly voice lessons, diction, repertory courses, and actor training complement core seminars that introduce and tie together the historical/cultural perspective, analytical tools, and performance skills that distinguish vocal and operatic performance at the highest level.

The Orchestral and Choral Conducting Program is a two-year graduate curriculum that culminates in the master of music degree. The program is designed and directed by Harold Farberman, founder and director of the Conductors Institute at Bard; James Bagwell, director of Bard’s undergraduate Music Program, music director of the Collegiate Chorale, and principal guest conductor and artistic adviser for the American Symphony Orchestra; and Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, music director of the American Symphony Orchestra, and conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.



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This event was last updated on 09-25-2013