Pianist Robert Levin is one of America’s leading keyboard players in the early instruments movement, but maintains a large repertory in all major periods and genres of piano music. He is equally at home at the harpsichord, the fortepiano, and the standard pianoforte, and as a recitalist, concerto performer, and accompanist. In addition, he is recognized as an authoritative scholar on the Classical and Baroque periods.
Robert Levin was born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York. He studied piano with Louis Martin in New York City, and composition there with Stefan Wolpe. He was invited to study with the legendary teacher Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France, and in Paris while still a teenager. He had additional composition studies with Leon Kirchner, and master classes in piano with Clifford Curzon and Robert Casadesus when he was still a junior in high school. His piano teachers in Paris were Jean Casadesus and Alice Gaultier-Léon.
Robert Levin studied at Harvard University. Upon graduation (magna cum laude), Rudolf Serkin invited him to join the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia as head of the theory department. He was then requested by Nadia Boulanger to become the next Resident Director of the American Conservatory (1979 – 1983). In 1986 he was professor of piano at the Staatliche Hochschule fur Musik in Freiburg, Breisgau, Germany. He resigned this position in 1993 when he was appointed a professor at Harvard University. He now occupies the chair of Dwight P. Robinson, Jr. Professor of the Humanities at that institution.
Robert Levin embarked on a highly successful concert and recording career. He became known as a highly intelligent interpreter, able to perform virtually any style of classical music.
Robert Levin has appeared as keyboard player in a wide variety of works. A list of a few of the composers whose music he has recorded shows his wide repertory: J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Brehm, Falla, Hamilton, John Harbison, Paul Hindemith, Charles Ives, Johann Philipp Kirnberger, Felix Mendelssohn, Messiaen, Mozart, Francis Poulenc, Max Reger, Robert Schumann, Shifrin, Shostakovich, Georg Philipp Telemann, Weber, and Wolpe.
Robert Levin is best known as a Mozart pianist and scholar. He has written cadenzas to many of the master’s recordings (including the piano, violin, and horn concertos), published embellishments of Mozart solo parts, and written several reconstructions or completions of Mozart works. His completion of Mozart’s Requiem won wide critical acclaim after its premiere by Helmuth Rilling at the European Music Festival in Stuttgart in August 1991. His reconstruction of the K. 297b Sinfonia concertante for four winds and orchestra is now frequently performed. He has published numerous scholarly studies in musical issues, usually concerning performing practice and authenticity, including a world-renowned publication of completions of fragmentary Mozart works. He has recorded on several labels, notably on Sony Classics’ Vivarte series.