„Markus Schirmer is so prolific, humorous and inventive that any piano is liable to marry him on the spot, if he’s not careful...“ (Basler Zeitung)
Energy, expression and emotion characterise Austrian top pianist Markus Schirmer’s music-making. No matter where he tours he receives audience acclaim for his charismatic musicianship and his ability to tell vivid stories with the instrument.
One of his reviews sums him up precisely: „A pied piper on the piano…music that comes straight from the heart, the brain and the fingertips.” After intense studies with Rudolf Kehrer, Karl-Heinz Kämmerling or Paul Badura-Skoda the Graz born artist went on to win numerous prizes and honours and to take a number of major concert halls and festivals by storm: the Wiener Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Herkulessaal and Philharmonic (Munich), Suntory Hall (Tokyo), Wigmore Hall (London), Gewandhaus (Leipzig), Konzerthaus (Berlin), Rudolfinum (Prague), Bozar (Brussels), Finlandia Hall (Helsinki), Teatro Teresa Carreño Caracas), Victoria Hall (Geneva), Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Teatro Olimpico (Vicenza), Megaron (Athens), Lucerne Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Festival international de piano „La Roque d´Antheron”, Ruhr piano festival, Festival pianistico internazionale „Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli” (Brescia), Bregenz Festival, styriarte, Vilnius Festival, Mondseetage, Beethoven Festival Lodz, ISCM-World Music Festival and many more.
He has worked with renowned orchestras: the Wiener Philharmoniker, Mariinsky Orchestra St.Petersburg, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker, Sinfonia Varsovia, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Radio Symphony Orchestras of Vienna, Munich and Leipzig, Czech Philharmonic and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev, Sir Neville Marriner, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Jukka Pekka Saraste, Sir Charles Mackerras, John Axelrod, Fabio Luisi, Philippe Jordan, Roy Goodman, Michael Gielen, Philippe Entremont and Pinchas Steinberg among others.
He adores Schubert above all but is also enthusiastic about more obscure works such as Britten’s ironic piano concerto, the transcendental oeuvres of Szymanowski and Apostel’s „Kubiniana”. Chamber music plays an important role in his work and his partners have included Julian Rachlin, Renaud Capuçon, Clemens Hagen, Benjamin Schmid, Danjulo Ishizaka, Christian Altenburger, Corey Cerovsek, Patrick Demenga, the Artis Quartet, the Auryn Quartet, the Carmina Quartet, the Gaede Trio and many others.
His love affair with the unusual, his daring and his eagerness to explore new territories ensure the development of sensational events outside the traditional classical repertoire: SCURDIA is an improvisation project which brings together extraordinary musicians from all over the world on one stage, thus allowing new artistic and creative energies to be set free by bridging various cultures.
Markus Schirmer has great pleasure in working with actors, combining literature and music, and has developed unusual programs which are celebrated by audience and critics alike. In collaboration with the American singer and actress Helen Schneider he presents his own adaptation of Kurt Weill’s „The Seven Deadly Sins” for voice and piano. For his exceptional artistic diversity Markus Schirmer was awarded the „Music Manual Award“ at the Euromusic International Music Convention, and is a recipient of one of Austria’s most prestigious awards, the Karl Böhm Interpretation Prize. He received the German Record Critics’ Award for his debut CD of Schubert Sonatas. Further recordings including sonatas by Haydn and Beethoven, the Mozart Piano Quartets with the Gaede-Trio and his set „Pictures & Reflections” have won international prizes. In the coming seasons he will be performing at many festivals and concert series in the United States, South America, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, China, Italy, Slovenia, Denmark, Finland, Russia, Australia and Austria.
In addition to his work as Professor of Piano at the Music University in his hometown Graz, Markus Schirmer is an adjudicator at several international piano competitions.