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Michael Arnowitt

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Michael Arnowitt is one of the most creative and imaginative musicians of today. He is best known for his beautiful and sensitive touch at the keyboard, for the clarity and elegance of his musical ideas, for his abilities to find new articulations and colors from the piano, for his innovative and thought-provoking concert programs, and for his natural and warm on-stage manner with audiences of all ages.

His life and music is the subject of a documentary film, Beyond 88 Keys (2004). The documentary, filmed in both the United States and Europe, contains footage of concert performances, educational talks, and interviews. The film has been broadcast on public television in various states and has been shown at film festivals and venues including the Rode Pomp, an arts center in Gent, Belgium and the Anthology, a theater in New York City’s East Village.

Michael Arnowitt has toured Europe on seven different occasions, performing in France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Russia and Asia.

Michael Arnowitt has performed twice as piano soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, playing piano concertos of Bach and Beethoven; he has also appeared as soloist with the Kiev Chamber Orchestra under Roman Kofman, the Savannah Symphony Orchestra, and others. He has performed in concert with the Ying Quartet, and has toured Canada and the United States giving duo performances with Beverley Johnston of Toronto, one of the world’s leading classical percussionists.

Michael Arnowitt is also a outstanding jazz musician

New Program Offerings 2022 & 2023

Each of Michael Arnowitt’s current classical piano program offerings are totally new, fresh creations presenting piano music that Michael is currently most excited about:


Michael Arnowitt’s new program Kaleidoscope takes the listener on a stimulating journey through rich and colorful musical landscapes. The program opens with a half-dozen of Bach’s miniature 3-Part Sinfonias, companion pieces in 3-part counterpoint to Bach’s more familiar 2-Part Inventions that have been learned by generations of piano students for 200 years. Bach’s Sinfonias are delightful jewels, the music at turns spirited, good-humored, lyrical, mysterious, and joyful. Three Debussy études take us on interesting adventures into Debussy’s unique world of spacious sonorities, bells, water imagery, and experiences that go beyond sound to evoke touch and our other senses.

A highlight of the program are pieces by the present-day Ukrainian composer Victoria Poleva. This Kiev-based composer writes highly absorbing music that is simple yet powerful, expressive, and deeply spiritual. Victoria Poleva recently sent Michael Arnowitt ten of her piano compositions. This program, featuring four of these pieces, marks the beginning of Arnowitt’s efforts to champion her music and raise awareness in North America of this outstanding composer.

The Hungarian-born Gyorgy Ligeti, in the final decades of his life, wrote three books of études Michael Arnowitt regards as the best piano pieces of the last fifty years. This concert provides a great opportunity for audiences to hear live these widely-praised pieces that have been among the most talked about classical compositions of recent decades. Arnowitt will perform Open Strings, Fanfares, Rainbow, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, showcasing the amazing imagination and creativity of these pieces full of beautiful new piano sounds and textures.

The pianist will also perform his Burana Bop, a jazz arrangement of musical material drawn from Carl Orff’s famous chorus and orchestra piece Carmina Burana, inspired by 13th century medieval secular poetry. Burana Bop has consistently received enthusiastic positive comments from audiences since its premiere in early 2021.

The program is rounded out with the shorter works Piano Figures by the British composer George Benjamin, with its enchanting, creative depictions of knots, a mosaic, and more, and abright, rambunctious 1941 piece by Lutoslawski full of Prokofiev-like youthful hijinks. Altogether, Kaleidoscope offers a concert experience that nicely balances serious and lighter fare.

J.S. Bach ⋅ Selections from the 3-Part Sinfonias
  (F major, E minor, A major, D minor, G major, D major)
Claude Debussy ⋅ Selections from 12 Études (1915)
  Étude no. 11 Pour les arpèges composés
  Étude no. 6 Pour les huit doigts
  Étude no. 3 Pour les quartes
Victoria Poleva ⋅ Excerpt from the music to her ballet
  “Mirror, Dreams” (2021)
Victoria Poleva ⋅ Lacrimosa and Music that is not yet,
  from Marginalia (1998-2008)
Victoria Poleva ⋅ Sonata no. 2 “quasi una fantasia” (2011)
Witold Lutoslawski ⋅ Study for Piano no. 2 (1941)
George Benjamin ⋅ Selections from Piano Figures (2004)
  Spell - Knots - Alone - Hammers - Mosaic
Michael Arnowitt ⋅ Burana Bop (jazz improvisation based on
  music from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana)
Gyorgy Ligeti ⋅ Selections from Études for piano, Book 1 (1985)
  and Book 2 (1988-1994)
  Étude no. 2, Cordes à vide (Open strings)
  Étude no. 4, Fanfares
  Étude no. 5, Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow)
  Étude no. 10, Der Zauberlehrling (The sorcerer’s apprentice)

Encore: Michael Arnowitt ⋅ Bi Bim Bop
(a jazz fugue, mixing Bach and bebop jazz)


Crossroads is a special program full of profound, highly personal and expressive pieces, music well-suited to Michael Arnowitt’s style. The centerpiece of the program is a piano transcription of the first movement of Mahler’s celebrated Ninth Symphony, universally recognized as one of the greatest symphony movements of all time, expressing Mahler’s feelings on the earth, nature, and death. Highlights of the program include the recent pieces Ischia Island and Sonata “quasi una fantasia” by the Ukrainian composer Victoria Poleva, whose emotionally moving and deeply spiritual music Michael Arnowitt greatly admires and is trying to raise appreciation of in Canada and the United States. Also featured is a set of the wonderfully creative piano pieces of the early 20th century composer Arthur Lourié, whose forgotten music has only just been receiving attention from performers in the last few years. The program is rounded out with shorter pieces by Bach, Schoenberg, and Debussy.

J.S. Bach ⋅ My Favorite Fugues, four selections from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2
Claude Debussy ⋅ Étude no. 3, Pour les quartes (1915)
Victoria Poleva ⋅ Ischia Island (2019) and Sonata no. 2 “quasi una fantasia” (2011)
Arthur Lourié ⋅ Mazurka op. 7 no. 1 (1912), Intermezzo (1928), and Marche from Quatre pièces (1927)
Arnold Schoenberg ⋅ Piano Piece op. 11 no. 1 and Six Small Piano Pieces op. 19
Gustav Mahler ⋅ Andante comodo, first movement from Symphony no. 9, transcribed for piano by Iain Farrington

Musical Landscapes

Musical Landscapes presents a cornucopia of pieces Michael Arnowitt has been currently fascinated with, spotlighting both some of the finest solo piano pieces of recent decades and some important works of the early 20th century that foreshadowed the music of the past 100 years. Two British composers are highlighted on the program: The Nature of Water (1981) by Elisabeth Lutyens, a provocative, outspoken composer with a larger-than-life personality best known for her film scores, and George Benjamin’s Piano Figures (2004) which has enchanting, highly creative depictions of knots, hammers, a mosaic, and more. Elliott Carter’s exciting 2006 Caténaires (Cables) has become one of the hottest pieces of new music of our time. Composed at the astounding age of 98, it presents a super-fast single note line, a whirlwind that flies through the different regions of the piano in quicksilver fashion. The Ukrainian composer Victoria Poleva is represented by her Sonata “quasi una fantasia” (2011), a dramatic and spiritual work of great emotional depth. A special feature of the program is a set of five études by the Hungarian-born composer Gyorgy Ligeti, wonderfully imaginative and widely-praised pieces that have become instant classics of our times since their publication in the 1990’s. Shorter works on the program include pieces by Bach, Schoenberg, four of Dennis Bathory-Kitsz’s Landscape Preludes (2002), based on the color and density content of Vermont autumn photographs, and a sampling of pieces by Arthur Lourié, one of the most interesting forgotten composers of the 20th century.

J.S. Bach ⋅ My Favorite Fugues, selections from The Well-Tempered Clavier and The Art of the Fugue
Arnold Schoenberg ⋅ Six Small Piano Pieces op. 19 and Piano Piece op. 23 no. 3
Victoria Poleva ⋅ Sonata no. 2 “quasi una fantasia” (2011)
Elliott Carter ⋅ Caténaires, no. 2 from Two Thoughts About the Piano (2006)
Gyorgy Ligeti ⋅ Selections from Études for piano, Book 1 (1985) and Book 2 (1988-1994)
   Étude no. 2, Cordes à vide (Open strings)
   Étude no. 3, Touches bloquées (Blocked keys)
   Étude no. 4, Fanfares
   Étude no. 5, Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow)
   Étude no. 10, Der Zauberlehrling (The sorcerer’s apprentice)
George Benjamin ⋅ Selections from Piano Figures (2004)
   Spell - Knots - Alone - Hammers - Mosaic
Dennis Bathory-Kitsz ⋅ no. 11, 20, 14, and 2 from Tirkiinistra: Landscape Preludes (2002)
Elisabeth Lutyens ⋅ La Natura dell’Acqua  (The nature of water, 1981)
Arthur Lourié ⋅ Selected pieces
   Mazurka, op. 7 no. 1 (1912)
   Intermezzo (1928)
   Upmann – A “Smoking Sketch” (1917)
   A Phoenix Park Nocturne (1938)
   Marche from Quatre pièces (1927)

J.S. Bach’s Six Keyboard Partitas

Bach said on the title page of his publication of the six partitas, “composed for music-lovers, to refresh their spirits.”

His six partitas are particularly cherished by pianists as topline pieces universally regarded as among Bach’s very best compositions for keyboard.

The partitas take as their starting point old dance traditions from different countries of Europe. Bach created musical shapes evocative of not just the arm and leg motions of these dances, but more generally of many aspects of everyday living: walking, running, even the act of thinking and countless human emotions are touched on in these extraordinary pieces. The true achievement of these partitas is how Bach magically transforms these shapes far beyond background music for dance to the pure, spiritual, joyful, and lively music of his own unique soundworld that is some of the most satisfying music ever created.
These partitas each have their own distinct personality and character and are surprisingly different from each other.

After a lifetime of reflecting on Bach, gaining insights and developing musically, Michael Arnowitt offers this program of Bach partitas as a wonderful opportunity for audiences to hear the pianist perform live these remarkable and unique masterpieces.

Michael Arnowitt is well recognized as an outstanding interpreter of the music of Bach, having performed the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I in its entirety in single concerts in Boston and New York City, and the Goldberg Variations on tours in Belgium and Russia. He has conducted from memory Bach’s B Minor Mass and St. John Passion, two of the composer’s great masterworks for chorus and orchestra. In 2013, he presented his creative transformation of Bach’s Italian Concerto for solo keyboard into a true concerto for piano and orchestra.

After a lifetime of reflecting on Bach, gaining insights and developing musically, Michael Arnowitt offers this program of Bach partitas as a wonderful opportunity for audiences to hear the pianist perform live these remarkable and unique masterpieces.

Partita no. 1 in B-flat major
Partita no. 2 in C minor
Partita no. 3 in A minor
Partita no. 4 in D major
Partita no. 5 in G major
Partita no. 6 in E minor

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