Biret, Idil, remarkable Turkish pianist; b. Ankara, Nov. 21, 1941. She began her music studies when she was only 3. Her talent prompted the Turkish government to send her to Paris to study at the Cons., where she was a student of Jean Doyen (piano), Nadia Boulanger (accompaniment), and Jacques Février (chamber music), and where she took premiers prix in all three at age 15. When she was 11, Kempff invited her to perform Mozart’s E-flat major Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orch., K.365/316a, with him in Paris. She continued her training with Kempff, and also received advice from Cortot. In 1954 and again in 1964 she won the Lily Boulanger Memorial Fund Award. From the time she was 15 she began to tour widely as a soloist with orchs., as a recitalist, and as a chamber music player. In 1959 she was awarded the Harriet Cohen/Dinu Lipatti Gold Medal. In 1973 she performed all of the Beethoven violin sonatas with Menuhin at the Istanbul Festival. She was named a Chevalière de l’Ordre du Mérité in 1976 by the French government. In 1986 she played Liszt’s formidable transcriptions of all of the Beethoven syms. at the Montepellier Festival, which she also recorded. She has won notable distinction for her performances of the standard repertoire, but she has also played much contemporary music. Her recordings of the complete piano works of Chopin (1992) and the complete solo piano music of Brahms (1995) have secured her reputation as a pianist of the first rank.
—Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire