Yefim Bronfman, an American pianist of Russian descent, has performed with most of the major orchestras in the United States and Europe and in chamber music collaborations with many celebrated musicians. He is known for his virtuosity of technique, clarity and beauty of tone, and soulful interpretations of the world’s great piano literature. Violinist Isaac Stern, the mentor of many young musicians, told Eugenia Zuckerman of CBS Sunday Morning, “I think that he is probably one of the two or three greatest talents to come along in this part of our time. And it’s a career that I see growing steadily and enriching himself and everybody around him for the next fifty years.”
Bronfman was born into a musical family on April 10, 1958 in Tashkent, Soviet Union, a city of over one million not far from the Chinese and Afghan borders. Because his father was a violinist and mother a pianist, it was assumed that Bronfman would become a musician. At age seven Bronfman began music lessons with his mother and continued his studies at a music school for gifted children in Tashkent. In 1969 he made his debut with the school orchestra, and in 1970 he performed Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 1.
In 1973, at age fifteen, Bronfman emigrated with his family to Israel. That same year, he auditioned for Eugene Istomin, who had him play for Zubin Mehta, conductor of the Israel Philharmonic. The following December he performed with the Israel Philharmonic in Tel Aviv. In 1974 the young pianist also won a scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF) in a competition chaired by Isaac Stern. The award enabled Bronfman to study privately with pianist Arie Vardi, the head of the Rubin Academy of music at Tel Aviv University, and brought him to the attention of philanthropist Frederick Mann, who gave Bronfman his first piano.
In 1975 Bronfman made his North American debut with the Montreal Symphony under the baton of Zubin Mehta. In September 1976, he toured the United States with the Israel Philharmonic, performing the Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3. In 1976 Bronfman emigrated to the United States and in 1989 became a U.S. citizen. With the aid of the AICF, he participated in the Marlboro Music Festival and was quickly invited for numerous orchestral and recital engagements. Bronfman also studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, and in Vermont with Rudolph Serkin. In 1978 he entered New York’s famous Juilliard School of Music. That same year he made his debut with the New York Philharmonic, performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto with violinist Shlomo Mintz and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Since then Bronfman has appeared numerous times with orchestras worldwide in solo and recital concerts.
Born April 10, 1958, in Tashkent, U.S.S.R.; naturalized U.S. citizen; father was a violinist, mother, a pianist. Education: Attended Juilliard School of Music, beginning 1978, and Curtis Institute, Philadelphia; studied privately with Rudolf Serkin, Arie Vardi, Leon Fleisher, and Rudolf Firkusny.
Made professional debut with the Israel Philharmonic, 1974; soloist with orchestras in North America, Europe, and Israel.
Awards: American-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship, 1974; Avery Fisher Prize, 1991; Edison Prize (Netherlands) for best recording, for Franck, Debussy and Ravel Violin Sonatas, recorded with Shlomo Mintz.
Addresses: Manager —ICM Artists, 40 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019. Publicist— Audry Michaels Public Relations, 122 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021.
A sensitive and dedicated chamber music performer, he has collaborated with the Emerson, Guarneri, Juilliard, and Cleveland Quartets. He is a regular at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, and the Spoleto Festivals in the United States and Italy.
“Everything you do in life is reflected in your playing,” Bronfman told Tom Strini of the Milwaukee Journal. “The kind of life you lead is more important than practicing twenty-four hours a day. Once you try to get out of yourself, you can overcome self-consciousness and play more purely and honestly. You should always be ready to stop and ask yourself what you’re doing it for. The great people I’ve heard are completely dedicated to the cause of music.” In 1991 Bronfman’s talent and dedication were recognized concretely when he was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in recognition of outstanding achievement and excellence in music. One of the primary purposes of this prize, which includes a monetary award of $25,000, is to recognize solo instrumentalists who are United States citizens and who have clearly demonstrated outstanding professional ability and have contributed significantly to the world of music.
Bronfman’s discography includes solo piano works and recital performances. With violinist Shlomo Mintz he recorded Franck, Debussy and Ravel Violin Sonatas, which was nominated for a Grammy Award and the Ovation Chamber Music Record of the Year, and which won the Netherlands’ Edison Prize for Best Recording. Again with Mintz, Bronfman was awarded the Grand Priz National du Disque in 1988 for the recording of Gabriel Faure’s Violin Sonatas.
Brahms: Sonata in F minor/Scherzo, Op. No. 4, Musicmasters.
Faure: Violin Sonatas (with violinist Shlomo Mintz), Deutsche Grammophon.
Franck, Debussy and Ravel Violin Sonatas (with Mintz), Deutsche Grammophon.
Mozart: Sonatas for Piano and Violin (with pianist Robert Mann), Musicmasters.
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Sony Classical.
Prokofiev: Violin Sonatas Nos. 7 and 8 (with Mintz), CBS Masterworks.
Prokofiev: Violin Sonatas (with Mintz), Deutsche Grammophon.
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concert Nos. 2 & 3., Sony Classical.
CBS Sunday Morning, CBS-TV, aired August 1990.
Dallas Morning News, July 10, 1990.
Milwaukee Journal, September 18, 1988.
New York Times, August 6, 1988.
—Jeanne M. Lesinski
BRONFMAN, YEFIM (1958– ), Russian-born Israeli, later American pianist. Bronfman began his training with his mother, a piano teacher. When he was 15, the family immigrated to Israel. There he studied piano with Arie *Vardi, then head of the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. He made his international début with Zubin *Mehta and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (1975). After his appearance in the Marlboro Music Festival in 1976, he immigrated to the U.S. He continued his studies at the Juilliard School in New York City and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, as a pupil of Leon *Fleisher, William Masselos, and Rudolf *Serkin.
Noted for his commanding technique and exceptional lyrical gifts, Bronfman appeared with leading orchestras and conductors. He gave recitals in North America, Europe, and the Far East, and made acclaimed debuts in Carnegie Hall (1989) and Avery Fisher Hall (1993). In 1991 he gave a series of joint recitals with Isaac *Stern in Russia. That same year he was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize.
A devoted chamber music performer, Bronfman has collaborated with the Emerson, Cleveland, and Juilliard Quartets, as well as with Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua *Bell, Shlomo *Mintz, and Pinchas *Zukerman. His expansive repertoire extends from Scarlatti to contemporary music. Among his recordings are the complete Prokofiev Piano Sonatas; all five of the Prokofiev Piano Concertos; and works by Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. He won a Grammy award in 1997 for his recording of the three Bartok Piano Concertos. Summer engagements have regularly taken him to the Aspen, Lucerne, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Salzburg, Tanglewood, and Verbier festivals.
Baker's Biographical Dictionary (1997); J. Rubinsky, in: Keyboard Classics, 9:5 (1989), 12–13; R. Dumm, in: Clavier 39 (July–Aug. 2000) 28–32.
[Naama Ramot (2nd ed.)]
Bronfman, Yefim, admired Russian-born Israeli, later American pianist; b. Tashkent, April 10, 1958. He began his training with his mother, a piano teacher; after the family emigrated to Israel in 1973, he took up formal study at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. In 1976 he appeared at the Marlboro (Vt.) Music Festival; then pursued additional training with Serkin at the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia and at the Juilliard School in N.Y. As a soloist with the Israel Phil., he toured the U.S. (1976), Australia (1978), and South America (1979); also appeared as a soloist with major U.S. and European orchs. In 1982 he made his N.Y. recital debut. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1989. In 1991 he was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize, giving his first recital at N.Y.’s Avery Fisher Hall in 1993. His expansive repertoire extends from Scarlatti to works from the contemporary era.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire