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Just in: Pianist gets a genius award

Jeremy Denk has been named as one of 24 winners of the 2013 Macarthur Awards, worth $625,000 over five years. The pianist will use it, he says, ‘to brainstorm on bigger music projects’.

jeremy denk

Other arts winners include Alexei Ratmansky, a choreographer with the American Ballet Theatre, and Carrie Mae Weems, a photographer and video artist. Full lineup here.


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  1. Paul Dornian says:

    Can’t think of someone who deserves it more. Denk and Aimard do the most interesting programming among today’s leading pianists. Anyone who can plays Bach, Beethoven and Ligeti equally well has a brain that could be characterized as ‘genius’ although that term gets so over used it has almost become as meaningless as ‘awesome’.

  2. Sixtus Beckmesser says:

    There were actually two pianists receiving Awards this year: the other one is Vijay Iyer, a jazz pianist who will join Harvard’s faculty next year. Congratulations to them both!

  3. Score two for Oberlin (Claire Chase last year, Jeremy Denk this year)! Bravo!

  4. Birgit Matzerath says:

    Congratulations, Jeremy Denk. I don’t know any other pianist who combines emotional expression, thoughtfulness, and brilliant technique in such a unique way. Listening to him play is an inspiration, and an adventure, every single time.

  5. I appreciate Birgit’s devotion to Jeremy Denk, but writing, “listening to him play is an inspiration, and an adventure, every single time” is silly. All great musicians have off days, and if Denk doesn’t, well, perhaps he isn’t really great. I know that if I had to choose between listening to Denk or to Backhaus play a Beethoven sonata, I’d choose Backhaus. The older artist had a quality that Denk does not: humility. I know how to describe Denk: “The Thinking Man’s Lang Lang.”

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