Misha Dichter, Piano
Now in the sixth decade of a distinguished global career, MISHA DICHTER remains one of America’s most popular artists, extending a musical heritage from the Russian Romantic School, as personified by Rosina Lhevinne, his mentor at The Juilliard School, and the German Classical style that was passed on to him by Aube Tzerko, a pupil of Artur Schnabel. He also studied composition and analysis with Leonard Stein, a disciple of Arnold Schoenberg.
Born in Shanghai to parents who had fled Poland at the outbreak of World War II, Misha Dichter and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was two; he began studying the piano at five. At the age of 20, while enrolled at the famed Juilliard School in New York City, he won the Silver Medal at the 1966 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, which helped launch an enviable concert career. Shortly thereafter, on August 14, 1966, Mr. Dichter was the guest soloist in a Tanglewood performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a concert that was broadcast nationally on NBC and subsequently recorded for RCA. Two years later, he made his New York Philharmonic debut under the baton of Leonard Bernstein, collaborating on the same concerto. Appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra, the principal London orchestras and every major American orchestra soon followed.
A recognized champion of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony #2, Age of Anxiety, Misha Dichter performed this great work with David Zinman and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the 2016 Ravinia Festival. During the 2017-18 season, he collaborated on Age of Anxiety with Maestro Zinman and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, David Itkin and the University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra and Ward Stare and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Misha Dichter has performed and recorded with some of the most illustrious conductors of the 20th and 21st centuries, among them Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Colin Davis, Lawrence Foster, Valery Gergiev, Carlo Maria Guilini, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, Kiril Kondrashin, Erich Leinsdorf, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Neville Marriner, Kurt Masur, Riccardo Muti, Eugene Ormandy, Carlos Prieto, André Previn, Simon Rattle, Gerard Schwarz, Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin, Robert Spano, William Steinberg, Michael Tilson Thomas, Hans Vonk, Edo de Waart, David Zinman and Pinchas Zukerman, while notable chamber music collaborations have included violinists Itzhak Perlman, Mark Peskanov and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, cellists Lynn Harrell and Yo-Yo Ma and the American, Argus, Cleveland, Emerson, Guarneri, Harlem, St. Petersburg and Tokyo string quartets. With his wife, pianist Cipa Dichter, he has toured North America and Europe, presenting both masterworks and neglected scores of the two-piano and piano-four-hand repertoires. Mr. Dichter has been seen frequently on national television and was the subject of an hour-long European television documentary.
Misha Dichter’s discography on the Philips, RCA, MusicMasters and Koch Classics labels are legendary, iconic and musically omnivorous, encompassing the major scores of Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Gershwin, Liszt, Mussorgsky, Schubert, Schumann, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. A noted exponent of Liszt’s piano works and a champion of the composer’s forward-looking contributions to the development of music, Mr. Dichter was honored in 1988 with the “Grand Prix International du Disque Liszt,” presented for his Philips recording of the master’s piano transcriptions. His first recording with Cipa Dichter is a three-CD set of Mozart’s complete piano works for four hands and is available on the Nimbus label. American Record Guide called the album “an unmitigated delight,” and Music Web International named it a 2005 “Record of the Year.”
In 2007, Misha Dichter took a three-month hiatus from the concert stage to deal with the onset of Dupuytren’s Disease, a contracting of one or more fingers. After totally successful surgery and physical therapy, Mr. Dichter returned to public performance and became a supporter of, and spokesperson for, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. A brief audio/video presentation, “Dupuytren’s Contracture: Misha Dichter - A Pianist Reborn,” is accessible on YouTube.
Misha Dichter is an accomplished writer, having contributed articles to many leading publications, including The New York Times. He is also a talented sketch artist, and in 2012 an e-book of his music-related illustrations, “A Pianist’s World in Drawings,” was released by Rosetta Books. Available on Amazon.com, BN.com and from iTunes, the e-book compiles over 50 original drawings that were created over the span of Mr. Dichter’s half-century career. (For more information, visit www.apianistsworldindrawings.com)
Fiercely dedicated to extending his artistic traditions to new generations of pianists, Misha Dichter conducts widely attended masterclasses at major conservatories, universities and music festivals, including Aspen, Curtis, Eastman, Harvard, Juilliard, Yale and Holland’s Conservatorium van Amsterdam.
Misha Dichter and his wife, Cipa Dichter, reside in New York City, in a household ruled over by Baxter, their amiable Springer Spaniel. They have two sons and five grandchildren. He remains an avid tennis player and jogger.