Beloved the world over for her exquisite pianism, Janina Fialkowska has enchanted audiences for over thirty years with her glorious lyrical sound, her sterling musicianship and her profound sense of musical integrity. Blending her vast experience with her refreshingly natural approach "Fialkowska has become an artist of rare distinction as well as retaining all the virtuosity of her youth" (La Presse, Montreal, February 13, 2009)
Celebrated for her interpretations of the classical and romantic repertoire, she is particularly distinguished as one of the great interpreters of the piano works of Chopin and Mozart. She has also won acclaim as a champion of the music of twentieth-century Polish composers, both in concert and on disc.
Born to a Canadian mother and a Polish father in Montreal, Janina Fialkowska started to study the piano with her mother at the age of five. Eventually she entered the Ecole de Musique Vincent d'Indy, studying under the tutelage of Mlle. Yvonne Hubert. The University of Montreal awarded her both advanced degrees of “Baccalaureat” and “Maitrise” by the time she was only 17.
In 1969, her career was greatly advanced by two events: winning the first prize in the Radio Canada National Talent Festival and travelling to Paris to study with Yvonne Lefebure. One year later, she entered the Juilliard School of Music in New York, where she first studied with Sascha Gorodnitzki and later became his assistant for five years.
In 1974 her career was launched by Arthur Rubinstein after her prize-winning performance at his inaugural Master Piano Competition in Israel. She has performed with the foremost North American orchestras, among them the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Houston Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony as well as with all of the principal Canadian orchestras, including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, the Calgary Philharmonic and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
In touring Europe and Asia, Ms Fialkowska has appeared as guest artist with such prestigious orchestras as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Halle Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the Scottish National Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic and the French and Belgium National Radio Orchestras. She has also performed with the Israel Philharmonic, the Osaka Philharmonic and the Hong Kong Philharmonic and has worked with such renowned conductors as Sir Andrew Davis, Charles Dutoit, Hans Graf, Bernard Haitink, Kyril Kondrashin, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Georg Solti, Leonard Slatkin, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and Klaus Tennstedt.
She has won special recognition for a series of important premieres, most notably the world premiere performance of a newly discovered Piano Concerto by Franz Liszt with the Chicago Symphony in 1990. She has also given the world premiere of a Piano Concerto by Libby Larsen with the Minnesota Orchestra (October 1991) and the North American premiere of the Piano Concerto by Sir Andrzej Panufnik with the Colorado Symphony (February 1992), the Piano concerto by Marjan Mozetich with the Kingston Orchestra (March 2000) and most recently in September 2010 with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra the world premiere of the Chopin inspired piano concerto "Prelude Variations" by John Burge, written for and dedicated to Janina Fialkowska.
Janina Fialkowska was the Founding Director of the hugely successful “Piano Six” project and its successor “Piano Plus”. This latest project brings together some of Canada’s greatest Classical pianists, instrumentalists and vocalists with Canadians who, for either geographical or financial reasons, would otherwise be unable to hear this calibre of “live” classical performance. In 2000 "Piano Six" won one of Canada's top Arts’ awards, the Chalmers Award.
In 1992 the CBC produced a sixty-minute television documentary, "the World of Janina Fialkowska" that aired to great acclaim throughout Canada. This program won a Special Jury Prize at the 1992 San Francisco International Film Festival. Ms Fialkowska is an "Officer of the Order of Canada" and holds honorary doctorates from Acadia University and Queen's University.
In January, 2002 at the onset of a major European tour encompassing eight different countries, Ms. Fialkowska’s career was brought to a dramatic halt by the discovery of a tumour in her left arm. After successful surgery to remove the cancer, Ms Fialkowska underwent further surgery in January 2003; a rare muscle-transfer procedure. After 18 months of performing the Ravel and Prokofiev "concertos for the left hand" which she transcribed for her right hand she has resumed her two-handed career beginning with a tremendously successful and highly emotional recital held in Germany in January 2004.
Ms Fialkowska's discography includes discs featuring the 24 Chopin Etudes, Op. 10 & Op. 25, the Sonatas Nos. 2 & 3 and the Impromptus, a solo album of Liszt piano works and her astonishing version of the 12 Transcendental Etudes by Franz Liszt. Also a solo Szymanowski album and the highly praised CD, "La jongleuse - Salon pieces and encores." She has also recorded her immensely popular CD of the Paderewski piano concerto with the Polish National Radio Orchestra, the rarely heard piano concerto by Moritz Moszkowski and the tremendously successful CD of the three Liszt piano concertos with Hans Graf conducting. Ms Fialkowska’s recent recordings include performances of piano concertos by Chopin and Mozart in authentic versions consisting of piano solo and string quintet accompaniment. Both of which were released to highest critical acclaim.
During the 2010 Chopin anniversary year three of Ms Fialkowska’s CDs were released. The CDs were devoted to the music of Chopin and all three received stellar reviews from the most distinguished critics around the world.
The “Chopin Recital” CD made it into the Gramophone classic charts as well as among the London’s Sunday Times Top 10 “Best classical recordings of the year”. It also received a nomination for the “International Classical Music Award 2011”. Bryce Morrison raved in Gramophone Magazine about her double album “Chopin: Etudes, Impromptus, Sonatas”: “Indeed, lesser mortals may well weep with envy at such unfaltering authority.” And David Patrick Stearns (Philadelphia Inquirer) sums up his review about Ms Fialkowska’s latest CD release (Chopin’s piano concertos, a live recording with the Vancouver Symphony under Bramwell Tovey): “Among recent Chopin concerto discs, this is among the best.”
Other highlights of the Chopin year included the world premiere of a Chopin inspired piano concerto by John Burge written for Janina Fialkowska and her triumphant period instrument debut playing Chopin’s e Minor concerto on an historic Pleyel 1848 piano with the Tafelmusik Orchestra in Toronto ("Most memorable classical concert of the year", The Toronto Star).
In Germany Ms Fialkowska gave her debut at the famed Schleswig Holstein Festival (with immediate reengagement for 2011) and hosted her first “International Piano Academy” which was held in the Bavarian town of Marktoberdorf.
Ms Fialkowska celebrated the Liszt anniversary 2011 on concert stage ("Virtuosa assoluta", Munich Merkur) as well as on CD. Her latest CD release "Liszt Recital" was hailed as "The most beautiful Liszt CD of this decade" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) and the London Times stated: "... the playing is magical." She also shared her Liszt exprtise in several master classes around the world, including at her own "International Piano Academy" in Bavaria and at the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival.
Her 2011 performances included her debut with the prestigious Radiosinfonieorchester Stuttgart, her Swiss debut with the legendary Musikkollegium Winterthur, the opening concert of the International Singapore Piano festival, her return to the Schleswig Holstein Festival and three exciting new CD productions.
The current season sees her continuing touring both sides of the Atlantic with performances in the US, Canada, Germany and a live BBC broadcast recital at London's Wigmore Hall.
Ms Fialkowska and her husband, cultural manager Harry Oesterle, divide their time between their homes in Connecticut and Bavaria.
As of October 2011