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February 11, 2010

Yefim Bronfman wins $50,000 prize in piano performance

Yefim Bronfman, one of the most dynamic keyboard artists of the day, has been awarded the $50,000 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance from the Northwestern University Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.

Previous winners in this recently established biennial award are Richard Goode (2006) and Stephen Hough (2008); the prize is named for a 1952 Northwestern alum.

As it turns out, Bronfman is due in Baltimore (like everything else this winter, subject to weather conditions) on Feb. 21 to play a recital for the Shriver Hall Concert Series. His adventurous program includes

Tchaikovsky's infrequently played Sonata in G, along with works by Beethoven, Schumann and Prokofiev.

Bronfman's particular blend of fearless virtuoisty and expressive intensity has always appealed to me. He's got the streak of individuality so crucial to making meaningful music. 

Here's a sample of the talent that earned Bronfman the Lane Prize:

Posted by Tim Smith at 11:14 AM | | Comments (1)


Though I admire Bronfman, I simply don't understand the rationale of giving monetary prizes to such well-established artists as he. According to his own website he has 44 (!) concert dates booked between January and June 2010. As a low-ball estimate, I'd imagine his fee is about $10k per night (some higher - NY Phil Tour; some lower - Shriver Hall) - Tim, feel free to correct me if you have better information - which means his gross for the 6 months is $440,000! (And that doesn't include teaching, record royalties, etc.) This is practically chump change for this guy - and could be a lifeline for 4 or 5 young pianists. Why?

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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