Derek Han

Derek once said, “You don’t choose Music Music chooses You”. Music was Derek’s life, giving him a means to express himself through his artistry, and giving Derek the opportunity to touch so many people around the world, particularly young musicians. Derek Han began performing in the Balkan region in 2000, shortly after the end of the Balkan wars because of his belief in the power of music to unite humanity. He returned regularly to Albania, Kosovo, and North Macedonia to perform. His last performances in these three countries were in October 2019 just before the covid pandemic began. In April 2022 Mr. Han died of the corona virus following a visit to Italy. Mr. Han was without a doubt among the leading American pianists of his generation. Though he was originally identifed with the concertos of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven not least because he recorded them all to favorable critical response, he possessed a vast repertory that includes the concertos of Mendelssohn, Chopin, and MacDowell, as well as individual concertos by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, and Shostakovich, in addition to a large body of solo and chamber works. Han's style is noted for its lucid tones, spirited character, and technical fluidity and accuracy. Born in Columbus, Ohio, on June 27, 1957, to Chinese parents, Han was a precocious child, becoming profcient on the piano at an early age, and then graduated from Juilliard School of Music at age 18. His most important teacher there was Ilona Kabos, but he studied under other prominent ones after graduation: Gina Bachauer, Lili Kraus, and Guido Agosti. Han's breakthrough came in 1977 when he captured frst prize at the Athens International Piano Competition. He thus experienced a meteoric rise in the late '70s and early '80s, appearing as soloist with many European and American orchestras and as a recitalist and chamber player at an array of important concert locales. He began to appear regularly at the Marlboro Music Festival (at the behest of Rudolf Serkin) and at many major concert venues, including New York, St. Louis, Buenos Aires, Berlin, London, Beijing, Warsaw, Moscow, and elsewhere. By the 1990s Han had become not only an important fgure on the concert scene but a popular recording artist, as well, with most of his work, including the Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven complete concerto cycles, appearing on the Intersound Records label. In the new century Han continued to grow in stature and expand his repertory. Among his later recordings was a pair of releases, the frst containing the complete Brahms piano quartets on Brilliant Classics and the second the Rachmaninov Concertos No. 1 and No. 2, with conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He was co-founder of the La Musica Chamber Music Festival in Sarasota, Florida, and Artistic Director of the Trieste Concerts Society in Italy.

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