Burkard Schliessmann, pianist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music? 

I was inspired from music and art from my first life and birth. My Grandmother, Katharina, bought a Steinway on the occasion of my birth. From a young age, I played pieces from memory. To study music and piano was self-evident.

Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career? 

First my grandmother, later my teachers, Bruno Leonardo Gelber, Poldi Mildner, Shura Cherkassky and Herbert Seidel.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

My latest project, ‘Chronological Chopin’ on ‘Divine Art’ (ddc 25752)

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of? 

‘Chronological Chopin’ on ‘Divine Art’ (ddc 25752) and the ‘Goldberg-Variations’ on ‘Bayer’, (BR 100 326), but also the  ‘Chopin – Schumann Anniversary Edition 2010’ on MSR-Classics, MS 1361, the ‘Schumann: Kreisleriana Op. 16, Symphonic Etudes Op. 13 (incl. Variations posthumes)’ on Bayer BR 100 311, the ‘Schumann – Liszt: Fantasie in C major Op. 17, Sonata in B minor’ on Bayer BR 100 293, the ‘Scriabin: Piano Works, Opp. 2 – 74’ on Bayer BR 100 161 and the DVD with ‘Liszt: Piano Transcriptions of Schubert Songs and Godowsky Symphonic Metamorphoses on Waltzes and Themes of Johann Strauss’ on Arthaus 100 455, which are produced by ‘WDR-Television’

Which particular works do you think you perform best? 

Bach: Partita in C minor, BWV 826; Weber: Rondo brilliant, Opus 62, Franck:  Prelude, Choral and Fugue; Chopin: Prélude in C sharp minor, Op. 45, Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 47, Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49, Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52, Scherzo No. 4 in E major, Op. 54, Berceuse in D flat major, Op. 57, Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op. 60, Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat major, Op. 61

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season? 

I try to be at home in all epochs and styles of music, to cover the whole literature. But mainly I like to focus on Bach, Chopin and German Romantics

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why? 

Yes, indeed I have: Carnegie Hall, New York. The acoustics are unique and outstanding

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

Bach: Goldberg-Variations

Franck: Symphonic Variations

Chopin: Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op. 60, Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat major, Op. 61

I also listen to great organ music. Why? I parallel studied organ in the masterclass of Edgar Krapp, where at the age of 21 I performed the complete organ work of J S Bach. I gave recitals and masterclasses in USA, Japan, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia/Singapore

In principle I listen to all types of music, also/even to Helene Fischer

Who are your favourite musicians? 

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Maria João Pires, Ivo Pogorelich, Arcadi Volodos, Murray Perahia, Grigory Sokolov

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

Japan, Tokyo: Bunka Kaikan and Suntory Hall

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 

I would like to reword the question: What I would not impart to aspiring musicians: If they are not authentic and “themselves”, if they do not express the music in the right and thoughtful way.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time? 

To be even more successful and to reach “musical heaven”

What is your most treasured possession? 

My two unique Steinway D-274 pianos, which I use for all my recordings and important recitals/concerts

What do you enjoy doing most?

Besides giving concerts I enjoy scuba diving, especially in the Maldives. I’m a PADI ‘Master Instructor’ and have made more than 8500 dives in the oceans all over the world

What is your present state of mind? 

Inspired, vigilant/awake and ambitious for more artistic ideas and inspiration



  1. I rank Schliessmann’s Chopin among the best available. With both the technique and intellect to do just about anything he wants, Schliessmann’s strength is in the lyrical, legato melodies that make Chopin’s music such a cornerstone of the piano repertoire. I would go out of my way to hear Schliessmann play any group of these in concert. His approach to all of the music is worthy of study and repays careful listening.

  2. Having witnessed the concert artistry of Burkard Schliessmann on several occasions, I have found him to be a brilliant and sensitive performer with impeccable skill and warmth.
    Glen Kersten
    Music consultant
    Seattle, Washington

  3. Burkard Schliessmann is an exciting performer with highly distinctive readings; his distinctive ideas are carried through at the keyboard with almost Golden Age boldness … .
    He is also gifted with an instinctive sense of Romantic phrasing, which allows him to be spontaneously expressive without veering into idiosyncrasy…
    His 3-SACD set ‘Chronological Chopin’ – recorded in rich, lifelike sound that has no flaws – will bring considerable satisfaction, both musical and emotional.

  4. Burkard Schliessman is one of the best pianists recording today. His recordings have all been excellent, but he has surpassed his own high standards in his ‘Chronological Chopin’ edition. Repeated listenings to that set as well as his performance of the Bach Goldberg Variations leaves no doubt that these are essential discs to have in any serious collection of classical piano music. Sound, interpretation and notes are without equal.

  5. As the Director of MSR Classics, I had the pleasure of working with Schliessmann on his Chopin–Schumann Anniversary SACD Edition in 2010. Through this collaboration with him, I became aware of an artistic intelligence and dedication unlike anything I had encountered in a very, very long time. His preparation of the music he performs is matched, perhaps, only by the performances themselves. He is high-minded in the best way: extremely discerning, but just as open and welcoming. I feel fortunate to consider him a colleague, and a friend.

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