Artistic Director Arnaldo Cohen

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Arnaldo Cohen, a piano virtuoso of international renown with a deep dedication to educating the next generation of musicians and music lovers, was appointed artistic director of the prestigious Portland Piano International series in October 2012. His inaugural 2013-14 season was announced immediately following his recital at the Newmark Theatre on Sunday, May 5. He succeeds Harold Gray, the founding artistic director, who retires after 35 years of distinguished leadership at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.

Cohen previously performed for PPI in October 2002, January 2005, May 2009 and he has been a piano soloist with the Oregon Symphony four times, including May 2010 when he performed Beethoven’s complete concerto cycle. After his performance of Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Oregon Symphony in September 2014, he is scheduled to return to the Portland Metro area in February 2015 to play two Liszt piano concertos with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (in Vancouver, WA).

The Brazilian-born pianist has a reputation for astonishing his audiences with the musical authority and blistering virtuosity of his performances. His graceful and unaffected platform manner belies playing of white-hot intensity, intellectual probity, and glittering bravura technique bordering on sheer wizardry. He has performed with the Royal Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome under such leading conductors as Kurt Masur, Yehudi Menuhin and Wolfgang Sawallish.

Long in demand internationally, Cohen has in the last decade entered a rarefied echelon among performers in America as well. His performances in recent seasons have spanned the United States and Canada geographically, including appearances with major orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Recital appearances regularly include important venues in Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto, among other music centers.

Arnaldo Cohen came to prominence after winning First Prize at the 1972 Busoni International Piano Competition and making his debut at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. For five years, he was a member of the acclaimed Amadeus Trio and has performed with many string quartets, including the Lindsay and Chillingirian Quartets. He began his musical studies at the age of five, graduating from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro with an honors degree in both piano and violin, while also studying for an engineering degree. He went on to become a professional violinist in the Rio de Janeiro Opera House Orchestra to earn his livelihood while continuing piano studies with Jacques Klein, a disciple of the legendary American pianist William Kapell.  Cohen pursued further training in Vienna with Bruno Seidlhofer and Dieter Weber.

He is a frequent recording artist, with recent discs including a rendering of the two Liszt Piano Concerti and the “Totentanz” with the Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra for BIS Records. His other two critically acclaimed CDs on the same label are an all-Liszt solo disc, and his pioneering CD, “Three Centuries of Brazilian Music.” He recorded Rachmaninov’s 4th Concerto with the Sao Paulo State Symphony with Yan Pascal Tortelier conducting as a part of the complete cycle of the Rachmaninov Concerti.

He is the recipient of an honorary fellowship awarded by the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and until recently held a professorship at the Royal Academy of Music in London. After living in London for many years, he relocated in 2004 to the United States, where he holds a full professorship at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.


Arnaldo Cohen is…

  • Portland Piano International’s incoming artistic director, the second in PPI’s 39-year history
  • Internationally known concert pianist, who once replaced legendary Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam
  • On the faculty at the University of Indiana’s distinguished Jacobs School of Music
  • Recording artist with BIS Records
  • Frequent Oregon Symphony guest artist, played Rachmaninov’s thunderous Piano Concerto No. 2, February 22-24, 2014
  • Brazilian native
  • Son of Jewish immigrants (his father, of Persian ancestry, from Israel; his mother from Ukraine)
  • Husband (he and Karina, a pianist, were married in March 2012)
  • Father and grandfather, whose son is a marketing executive and whose granddaughter was born in August 2012 and grandson was born in March 2016
  • Keen mathematician who studied engineering at university and and taught high school math and physics
  • Writer who, for five years, contributed music journalism to Veja, Brazil’s equivalent of Time magazine, and has written scripts for Brazilian TV as well as a movie screenplay
  • Violinist as well as a pianist
  • Interested in film and music editing
  • Fan of soccer, film, good food and red wine
  • Eclectic reader, whose taste runs from Brazilian novelists, Dostoevsky and Primo Levi to The Man and the Music and The Bible Code
  • Observer of human nature who, in another life, might choose to be a butler…or a psychoanalyst