Representation: General Management
He gives his whole body to the performance every time…He gives his soul too. He is a living dream of pianism, having broken through an expressive barrier that other players do not know exists.
The Sunday Times
As a musical interpreter, Olli Mustonen the conductor is very like Olli Mustonen the pianist. Detail after detail is finely articulated, as though etched with the point of a needle… the clarity and extraordinary finesse yield something I can only describe as visionary.
BBC Music Magazine
Olli Mustonen has a unique place on today’s music scene. Following the tradition of great masters such as Rachmaninov, Busoni and Enescu, Mustonen combines the roles of his musicianship as composer, pianist and conductor in an equal balance that is quite exceptional.
Born in Helsinki, Mustonen began his studies in piano, harpsichord and composition at the age of five. Initially learning with Ralf Gothoni, he subsequently studied piano with Eero Heinonen and composition with Einojuhani Rautavaara.
As a concerto soloist, Mustonen has worked with most of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and The Royal Concertgebouw, partnering conductors such as Ashkenazy, Barenboim, Blomstedt, Boulez, Chung, Dutoit, Eschenbach, Harnoncourt, Masur, Nagano, Salonen and Saraste. The 12/13 season included a major project with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins, with whom Mustonen performed all three Bartok piano concertos and gave the UK première of Hindemith’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. Other highlights of last season included a performance of Respighi’s Concerto in modo Misolidio with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
As a recitalist, Mustonen plays in all the world’s musical capitals, appearing in recent seasons at the Edinburgh International Festival, Sydney Opera House and Mariinsky Theatre St Petersburg. Last season, he partnered with Pekka Kuusisto in a recital tour which included the première of his own Violin Sonata, jointly commissioned by the Wigmore Hall and Perth Concert Hall.
Among Mustonen’s close connections with some of today’s most illustrious musicians is his collaboration with Rodion Shchedrin, who dedicated his Piano Concerto No. 5 to Mustonen and invited him to perform at his 70th, 75th and 80th birthday concerts. In August 2013, Mustonen performed Shchedrin’s Piano Concerto No. 4 at Stockholm’s Baltic Sea Festival with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under Valery Gergiev.
His special artistic collaboration with Gergiev is part of another long-standing musical relationship. In 2011, Mustonen had the honour of closing the Moscow Easter Festival at the personal invitation of Gergiev, in a performance which was televised all over Russia.
In 2012, Mustonen conducted the Helsinki Philharmonic in a performance of his own 1st Symphony, Tuuri. The work had been commissioned by the Tampere Philharmonic, who gave the world première under Mustonen’s baton earlier that year. His 2nd Symphony Johannes Angelos was commissioned by the Helsinki Philharmonic and will receive its world première conducted by the composer next season. Such is Mustonen’s relationship with the Helsinki Philharmonic that last season he was invited to be Artist in Residence, featuring him in all three roles of conductor, composer and soloist across a diverse range of concerts.
As well as all the major Finnish orchestras, Mustonen has conducted the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Weimar Staatskapelle, WDR Cologne, Camerata Salzburg, Northern Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber, Estonian National Symphony, Orchestra della Toscana, Tchaikovsky Symphony Moscow and NHK Symphony among others.
At the heart of both his piano playing and conducting is his life as a composer. Mustonen has a deeply held conviction that each performance must have the freshness of a first performance, so that audience and performer alike encounter the composer as a living contemporary. In this respect he recalls Mahler’s famous dictum, that tradition can be laziness, yet he is equally suspicious of the performance that seeks only to be different. This tenacious spirit of discovery leads him to explore many areas of repertoire beyond the established canon.
Over the course of the last three seasons, Mustonen undertook a complete cycle of the Beethoven Piano Concertos as soloist/conductor with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, in a series of concerts which also featured his own orchestral works. As a result, Mustonen has been re-invited to Melbourne this season to be a featured artist at the Metropolis New Music Festival, where he will appear in all three roles as pianist, conductor and composer. The North Carolina Symphony Orchestra also features Mustonen as Artist in Residence in the current season.
Other highlights this season include a performance at London’s Barbican Centre with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo – whom Mustonen re-joins later in the season for concerts with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic – and performances of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in its transcription for piano, with l’Orchestre de Paris and Paavo Järvi. Mustonen also tours the US with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and performs in Munich as soloist/conductor with the Prague Philharmonia. As a recitalist, Mustonen plays at New York’s Zankel Hall, performs his own piano sonata at the Chopin and his Europe Festival at Warsaw’s Fryderyk Chopin Institute, and undertakes a European tour with Steven Isserlis to include Mustonen’s Cello Sonata.
Olli Mustonen’s recording catalogue is typically broad-ranging and distinctive. His release on Decca of Preludes by Shostakovich and Alkan received the Edison Award and Gramophone Award for the Best Instrumental Recording. In 2002, Mustonen signed to the Ondine label, with whom his most recent releases include Respighi’s Concerto in modo Misolidio with Sakari Oramo and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and a critically acclaimed disc of Scriabin’s piano music.
Promoters please note: if you wish to include this biography in a concert programme etc, please contact Hazard Chase to ensure that you receive the most up to date version.
Email: Sophie Tiezel