Now in the fifth decade of an illustrious international career, Misha Dichter traces his musical heritage to the two great pianistic traditions of the 20th century: the Russian Romantic School as personified by Rosina Lhevinne, his mentor at The Juilliard School, and the German Classical style that was passed on to him by Aube Tzerko, a pupil of Artur Schnabel. Mr. Dichter reveals this dual legacy in his solo recitals and appearances with virtually all of the world’s major orchestras, performing the grand virtuoso compositions of Liszt, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky, as well as music from the central German-Viennese repertoire–works by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms--which embody more introspective qualities.
Mr. Dichter’s acclaimed recordings for Philips, RCA, MusicMasters, and Koch Classics further illustrate his musical interests. They include the Brahms piano concerti with Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Brahms solo works including the Handel Variations, Beethoven piano sonatas, the complete Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies, the Liszt Piano Concerti with André Previn and the Pittsburgh Symphony, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with Neville Marriner and the Philharmonia Orchestra, as well as music of Chopin, Mussorgsky, Schubert, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. Fanfare called Mr. Dichter’s recording of Stravinsky’s Piano Concerto conducted by Robert Craft “one of the few really important Stravinsky discs to come out in recent years.” A noted exponent of Liszt’s piano works and a champion of the composer’s forward-looking contributions to the development of music, Mr. Dichter was honored in 1998 with the “Grand Prix International du Disque Liszt,” presented for his Phillips recording of Liszt piano transcriptions.
PentaTone Classics has reissued on SACD two albums of previously recorded music by Mr. Dichter. Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata and Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 83 with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Kurt Masur comprise the first, and just released in March 2009 is a recording of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata and Brahms’s First Piano Concerto also with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Kurt Masur, a performance which Audiophile Audition said “ranks among the best, and that means the versions by Rubinstein (and Reiner), Serkin (and Szell), and Arrau (and Haitink)."
Mr. Dichter’s first recording with Cipa Dichter is a three-CD album of Mozart’s complete piano works for four hands on the Musical Heritage Society label. American Record Guide called the recording “an unmitigated delight,” and Music Web International named the album a 2005 “Record of the Year.”
An active chamber musician, in addition, Mr. Dichter has collaborated with most of the world’s finest string players and frequently performs with Cipa Dichter in duo-piano recitals and concerto performances throughout North America and in Europe, as well as top summer music festivals in the U.S., such as Ravinia, Caramoor, Mostly Mozart, and the Aspen Music Festival. They have brought to the concert stage many previously neglected works of the two-piano and piano-four-hand repertoires, including the world premiere of Robert Starer's Concerto for Two Pianos, the world premiere of the first movement of Shostakovich’s two-piano version of Symphony No. 13 (Babi Yar)*, and the world premiere of Mendelssohn’s unpublished Songs Without Words, Op. 62 and 67 for piano four hands. Mr. Dichter’s master classes at music festivals and at such conservatories and universities as Juilliard, Curtis, Eastman, Yale, Harvard, and the Amsterdam Conservatory, are widely attended.
Mr. Dichter was born in Shanghai in 1945, his Polish parents having fled Poland at the outbreak of World War II. He moved with his family to Los Angeles at the age of two and began piano lessons four years later. In addition to his keyboard studies with Aube Tzerko, which established the concentrated practice regimen and the intensive approach to musical analysis that he follows to this day, Mr. Dichter studied composition and analysis with Leonard Stein, a disciple of Arnold Schoenberg. He subsequently came to New York to work with Mme. Lhevinne at The Juilliard School.
At the age of 20, while still enrolled at Juilliard, he entered the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, where his choice of repertoire—music of Schubert and Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky—reflected the two major influences on his musical development. Mr. Dichter’s stunning triumph at that competition launched his international career. Almost immediately thereafter, he performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 at Tanglewood with Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony, a concert that was nationally broadcast live on NBC and subsequently recorded for RCA. In 1968, Mr. Dichter made his debut with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, performing this same concerto. Appearances with leading European ensembles, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, and the principal London orchestras, as well as regular performances with major American orchestras, soon followed.
An accomplished writer, Mr. Dichter has contributed many articles to leading publications, including The New York Times. He has been seen frequently on national television and was the subject of an hour-long European television documentary. Mr. Dichter is also an avid tennis player and jogger, as well as a talented sketch artist. His drawings, which have served as a sort of visual diary, have been exhibited in New York art galleries.
Mr. Dichter lives with his wife, pianist Cipa Dichter, in New York City. They have two grown sons.
* To view the world premiere performance by Misha and Cipa Dichter of the first movement of Shostakovich’s two-piano version of Symphony No. 13 (Babi Yar) at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, visit: http://www.mjhnyc.org/safrahall/visit_safra_podcasts.htm).