Idil Biret

Born in 1941

Idil Biret (

Idil Biret was born in Ankara. She started to play the piano at the age of three and later studied at the Paris Conservatoire under the guidance of Nadia Boulanger, graduating at the age of fifteen with three first prizes. She was a pupil of Alfred Cortot and a lifelong disciple of Wilhelm Kempff.

She embarked on her career as a soloist at the age of sixteen appearing with major orchestras in the principal music centres of the world like Boston Symphony, Leningrad Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus, London Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic in collaboration with conductors of greatest distinction such as Erich Leinsdorf, Pierre Monteux, Hermann Scherchen, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Kazimierz Kord, Antoni Wit.

To many major festival appearances may be added membership of juries for international competitions including the Van Cliburn, Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians and Busoni competitions. She has received the Lili Boulanger memorial Award in Boston, the Harriet Cohen / Dinu Lipatti Gold Medal in London, the Polish Cavalry Cross, the Adelaide Ristori Prize in Italy, the French Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite and the State Artist distinction in Turkey.

Her more than one hundred records since the 1960s include the first recordings of Liszt’s transcriptions of the nine symphonies of Beethoven for EMI, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique for Atlantic/Finnadar and for Naxos the complete piano works of Brahms, Chopin, Rachmaninov, the three Sonatas of Boulez, the Etudes of Ligeti and the  Firebird piano transcription by Stravinsky, with a Marco Polo disc of the piano compositions and transcriptions of her mentor Wilhelm Kempff. These records have sold nearly three  million copies. Her Boulez recording the Golden Diapason of the year award in France in 1995 and the complete Chopin recordings have received a Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin award in Poland the same year. 

In 2007 the President Lech Kaczsnky decorated Biret with the highest order of Poland, Cross of the Order of Merit (Krzyzem Kawalerskim Ordera Zaslugi) for her contribution to Polish culture through her recordings and performances of Chopin’s music. TheIdil Biret Archive (IBA) label is now issuing her old and new recordings which are being distributed worldwide by Naxos on CD and digitally. More than 50 CDs have so far been released  which include Beethoven’s 32 Sonatas, 5 Concertos, 9 Symphony transcriptions by Liszt (in a box set of 19 CDs), the many LPs she made for Decca, Vega, EMI and Atlantic records in France, Germany and USA as well as recently recorded concertos of  Grieg, Liszt, Ravel, Saint-Säens, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.

Her new recording of all the 5 piano concertos of Hindemith with the Yale Symphony Orchestra was released worldwide by Naxos in October 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his passing away. All the 100 plus recordings Idil Biret made since 1959 will be released in a single set containing nine boxes (Idil Biret 100 Edition) towards the end of 2014.



Interviews with the artist

"Von Brahms und dem Klavier". Carsten Dürer in a conversation with the pianist Idil Biret, in: piano News 1997:

- "Unerschütterliche Liebe [zu Brahms]". Stefan Hessbruggen-Walter in a conversation with Idil Biret, in: Rondo, Mai 1997:

- "Die Universalistin". Idil Biret interviewed by Fono Forum, August 2003:

Idil Biret -Radio interview/portrait/concert Boston 2005:

Bill Newman interviews Idil Biret, AKOB Magazine supplement / May 2012:

- Between the Lines: Idil Biret talks to Jeremy Siepmann, October 1, 2013:

14.12.2013: Idil Biret in front of the Schumannhaus Bonn (Foto: Sefik B. Yuksel)

Idil Biret was at this time in Bonn as a member of the jury to the International Telekom Beethoven Competition 2013

CD-Recordings of works by Schumann

IDIL BIRET: Schumann Edition

IDIL BIRET: Schumann Edition

Idil Biret, piano
Solo Piano Music
Piano Concerto
Piano Quintet

Antoni Wit
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra & Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
Borussia Quaret
8 Audio- CDs - Box mit allen Schumanneinspielungen von Idil Biret seit 1959
Erscheinungsdatum: Januar 2015

Robert Schumann: Kinderszenen op. 15

Peter I. Tschaikovsky: Album for the Young op. 39
Claude Debussy: Children's Corner Suite L. 113
Idil Biret, piano
Audio CD
Recorded at Clara-Wieck-Auditorium, Heidelberg, May 1993
Cover: Idil Biret at age 10
Released: 1993

Johannes Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 5

Robert Schumann: Piano Sonata No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 22
Idil Biret/Bernd Glemser, piano
Audio CD
Released: 1995

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15

Schumann: Introduction and Concert-Allegro in D Minor, Op. 134
Idil Biret, piano
Audio CD
Released: 2000

Robert Schumann: Piano concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Edvard Grieg: Piano concerto in A Minor, Op. 16
Idil Biret, piano
Bilkent Symphony Orchestra/Antoni Wit
Rec.: Bilkent Symphony Hall, Ankara, November 2006
Audio CD
IBA Idil Biret Concerto Edition - 1
Released: 2009


See also:

Robert Schumann: Piano concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Robert Schumann: Fantasiestücke, Op. 12
Johannes Brahms: Intermezzos, Op. 117
Idil Biret, piano
Rec.: 1959
Audio CD
IBA Idil Biret Archive Edition 6
Released: May 2010

Idil Biret Solo Edition 4

Robert Schumann: Abegg Variations, Op. 1; Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 22; Fantasia, Op. 17; Toccata, Op. 7

Idil Biret, piano
Audio CD
IBA Idil Biret Solo Edition 4
Released: July 2012

Idil Biret Solo Edition 5

Robert Schumann: Kreisleriana, Op. 16; Blumenstück, Op. 19; Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op. 26
Idil Biret, piano
Audio CD
IBA Idil Biret Solo Edition 5

Released: October 2012


Idil Biret Solo Edition 6

Robert Schumann: Bunte Blätter, Op. 99; Fantasiestücke, Op. 12
Idil Biret, piano
Audio CD
IBA Idil Biret Solo Edition, Vol. 6
Released: 2013


Idil Biret Solo Edition 7

Robert Schumann: Papillons, Op. 2; Carnaval, Op. 9; Arabeske, Op. 18; Waldszenen, Op. 82
Idil Biret, piano
Audio CD
IBA Idil Biret Solo Edition 7
Released: December 2013