Malcolm Bilson

Biography

Born: October 24, 1935; Los Angeles, CA  
The sound of a fortepiano in Mozart performances is familiar enough nowadays that many listeners consider it simply an equal alternative to conventional performances. But it wasn't always this way: for many years, Malcolm Bilson labored almost alone in the field. Born in California in 1935, Bilson attended Bard College and majored in piano -- conventional piano. He spent three years in Europe after graduating, gained degrees from the Vienna State Read more Academy and the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, completed doctoral studies at the University of Illinois, and joined the faculty at Illinois in 1962. Taking home the Rudolf Ganz Biennial Award for piano performance in 1963, Bilson seemed well on the way to a strong piano career in the academic world.

In 1968, however, Bilson was hired at Cornell University, where he met antique instrument builder Philip Belt. Belt introduced Bilson to the fortepiano, the instrument for which Mozart's sonatas and concertos were written. Quieter and less resonant but more agile than a modern grand, the instrument bowled Bilson over musically. "It was the first time I'd been able to play every note Mozart had written," he explained. "The modern piano develops the tone slowly and is ideal for long, gradually unfolding lines but poor for phrases containing frequent changes in stress." He began performing on the fortepiano, at first mostly in university settings, and then, as the authentic performance movement grew to encompass music of the Classical era, on the concert stages of the world. He toured with cellist Anner Bylsma and made numerous recordings, including a complete set of Mozart's piano concertos on which he was accompanied by the English Baroque Soloists and conductor John Eliot Gardiner, for the Deutsche Grammophon label.

Like other period instrument performers, Bilson in the 1990s and 2000s became interested in music of the early nineteenth century. In 1994 he and his students presented all 32 of Beethoven's piano sonatas in concert in New York, perhaps the first time they had been played together in public on instruments of Beethoven's time since they were composed. In the estimation of The New York Times, "what emerged in these performances was an unusually clear sense of how revolutionary these works must have sounded in their time." Freely giving his time to chamber music and vocal performances as well as his own solo career, he often worked with Gardiner's Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. Bilson's activities in 2004 included a group of appearances at Hungary's Sopron Early Music Days festival. Read less
Browse 1-24 of 24 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    The John Eliot Gardiner Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001826002 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 30
    Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi,  Henry Purcell,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Marinella Pennicchi,  Michael Chance,  Mark Tucker,  Bryn Terfel  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir,  His Majesties Sagbutts and Cornetts  ... 
    CD: $104.49
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  • 2.
    Mozart 111 [55-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001766872 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Emil Gilels,  Elena Gilels,  Maurizio Pollini  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock,  James Levine,  Herbert von Karajan,  Marc Minkowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-4 'Pasticci'; 3 Piano Concertos K 107 / Crawford, Bilson, American Classical Orchestra
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 2579 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
    Conductor:  Thomas Crawford
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Classical Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 12, 14 / Bilson, Gardiner
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 413463 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists
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  • 5.
    Mozart: Sonatas For Fortepiano & Violin Vol 2 / Bilson, Luca
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 79155 Release Date: 12/01/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Sergiu Luca,  Malcolm Bilson
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  • 6.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 22 & 23 / Bilson, Gardiner
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 423595 Release Date: 03/17/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists
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  • 7.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos 5 & 8, Rondos In A & D / Bilson
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 415990 Release Date: 12/16/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists
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  • 8.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 16 & 17 / Bilson, Gardiner
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 415525 Release Date: 10/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists
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  • 9.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 6, 7, & 10 / Bilson, Gardiner
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 427317 Release Date: 10/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson,  Robert Levin,  Melvyn Tan
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists
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  • 10.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 9 & 11 / Bilson, Gardiner
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 410905 Release Date: 10/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists
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  • 11.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 18, 19 / Bilson, Gardiner
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 415111 Release Date: 10/15/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists
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  • 12.
    Mozart: Piano Quartets / Bilson, Wilcock, Schlapp, Mason
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 423404 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson,  Timothy Mason,  Elizabeth Wilcock,  Jan Schlapp
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  • 13.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos No 20 & 21 / Bilson, Gardiner
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 419609 Release Date: 08/18/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists
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  • 14.
    Haydn, Dussek, Cramer: Keyboard Music / Malcolm Bilson
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9263 Release Date: 06/17/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Johann Baptist Cramer,  Jan Ladislav Dussek
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
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  • 15.
    Mozart: Piano Quartets / Bilson, Wilcock, Schlapp, Mason
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 000988102 Release Date: 10/09/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson,  Elizabeth Wilcock,  Timothy Mason,  Jan Schlapp
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  • 16.
    Knowing The Score / Malcolm Bilson
    Label: Cd Baby (Dvd)   Catalog: 5637224950 Release Date: 09/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
    DVD: $78.99
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  • 17.
    Haydn: Five Keyboard Sonatas / Malcolm Bilson
    Label: Claves   Catalog: 2501 Release Date: 06/28/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
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  • 18.
    Beethoven: Piano Sonatas No 1, 14, 17, 28 / Malcolm Bilson
    Label: Claves   Catalog: 2104 Release Date: 02/26/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson
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  • 19.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos / Bilson, Gardiner, English Baroque
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 463111 Release Date: 03/13/2001   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson,  Robert Levin,  Melvyn Tan
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists
    On sale! $71.98
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  • 20.
    Strengthen The Mind - Music For Intelligence & Learning
    Label: Spring Hill Music   Catalog: 6501 Release Date: 04/28/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  János Sebestyén,  Wolf Harden,  Takako Nishizaki,  Malcolm Bilson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Northern Chamber Orchestra,  Old Fairfield Academy Orchestra
    On sale! $17.98
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  • 21.
    Schubert: Choral Works / Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 454428 Release Date: 01/13/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Noel Mann,  Lynette Alcantara,  Angela Kazimierczuk,  Robert Johnston  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 22.
    Schubert: Works For Piano Four Hands
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 453491 Release Date: 11/03/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Robert Levin,  Malcolm Bilson
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  • 23.
    Beethoven: Fortepiano & Cello Sonatas Vol 1 / Bylsma, Bilson
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 79152 Release Date: 05/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Malcolm Bilson,  Anner Bylsma
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  • 24.
    Beethoven: Fortepiano & Cello Sonatas Vol 2 / Bylsma, Bilson
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 79236 Release Date: 05/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Anner Bylsma,  Malcolm Bilson
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