Martin Helmchen
Photo Credit: Giorgia Bertazzi
Listen Now
  • Schubert: Piano Sonata in A, D959, I. Allegro
  • Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2 in A
  • Mozart: Sonata No. 12, K332, I
  • Messiaen: Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus / Regard de l'étoile
  • Messiaen: Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus / Regard de l'esprit de joie
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“The conception was perfectly tailored to the lucid heat of the rising pianist Martin Helmchen, making an impressive Philharmonic debut with these performances … While Dvorák’s concerto is notorious for the discomfort it induces in its soloists, he never seemed to break a sweat, unleashing chromatic runs and laying down octaves with a style that was technically assured but also sly and nuanced …”


New York Philharmonic






With his highly virtuosic yet unpretentious style, Martin Helmchen has taken his place among the great pianists of his generation. Born in Berlin, he has made a series of sensational North American orchestral debuts, beginning in 2011 at Tanglewood, performing the Schumann Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnányi. Following this triumph was a revelatory performance of the Dvorák Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, his Symphony Hall/Boston debut, performing Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and his Chicago Symphony debut, playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2. In 2017, he returned to Symphony Hall, performing Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3 with the Boston Symphony under Andris Nelsons. 2018 saw Mr. Helmchen’s debut with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal under music director Kent Nagano, where his performance of the Schumann Concerto inspired favorable comparisons to Murray Perahia, Martha Argerich, and even Schumann himself.


The 2021/2022 season includes return invitations to both the Boston and Chicago symphonies, as well as his debut with the Milwaukee Symphony under the baton of Ken-David Masur. Interrupted by the pandemic, Mr. Helmchen will now continue the project of performing all three Bartók concertos with three different German orchestras: the DSO Berlin, hr-Symphony Orchestra in Frankfurt, and the Bielefeld Symphony. He will also continue his tour with violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann in venues throughout Europe, performing all ten of the Beethoven violin sonatas.


Other notable appearances in the U.S. include the symphonies of San Francisco, Saint Louis, Houston, Dallas, San Diego, and Oregon (Portland). Internationally, Mr. Helmchen has performed with the philharmonic orchestras of Berlin, Dresden, and Vienna, Leipzig Gewandhaus,  the Danish National Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Prague Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Giuseppe Verdi Symphony/Milan, London Philharmonic, London Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the NHK Symphony in Japan, among numerous others.  He has also served as artist-in-residence with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra.


A familiar face at every major festival in Europe, Mr. Helmchen is now gaining momentum in North America as well. In the fall of 2021, he will play the entire sonatas and partitas of Johann Sebastian Bach at the Montréal Bach Festival. He has appeared several times at the Mostly Mozart Festival (Lincoln Center/New York), as well as the Blossom Festival (Cleveland Orchestra), and the Aspen Festival in Colorado. He will make his debut at the Chautauqua Festival in the summer of 2022.


Martin Helmchen has collaborated with such renowned conductors as David Afkham, Marc Albrecht, Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph von Dohnányi, Edward Gardner, Thierry Fischer, Valery Gergiev, Philippe Herreweghe, Manfred Honeck, Jakub Hrůša, Paavo Järvi, Vladimir Jurowski, Louis Langrée, Fabio Luisi, Klaus Mäkelä, Kent Nagano, Andris Nelsons, Sir Roger Norrington, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Petr Popelka, Michael Sanderling, John Storgårds, Gilbert Varga, and David Zinman, among others.


An enthusiastic recitalist, Mr. Helmchen has performed at prestigious venues around the world, including the Kennedy Center, The Frick Collection/New York, Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall (with cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker), the Coast Recital Society, San Francisco Performances, ArtSpring, Wigmore Hall/London, the Schubertiade, and the Alte Oper in Frankfurt.


With a passion for chamber music, largely ignited by his early collaborations with the late cellist Boris Pergamenchikov, Mr. Helmchen now performs regularly with Frank Peter Zimmermann, Heinrich Schiff and Marie-Elisabeth Hecker. Other partners include Juliane Banse, Veronika Eberle, Julia Fischer (with whom he toured Asia), Sharon Kam, Gidon Kremer, Sabine Meyer, Christian Tetzlaff, Lars Vogt, and Tabea Zimmermann. He has also collaborated with noted vocalists such as Juliane Banse, Matthias Goerne, and Julian Pregardien.


A prolific recording artist, Mr. Helmchen’s first recording for PentaTone, featuring works by Schubert, won an ECHO Award; this was soon followed by a recording of the complete works of Schubert for violin and piano with Julia Fischer. Subsequent CDs have included concertos of Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Dvorák. Currently signed with Alpha Classics, Mr. Helmchen’s recording of Messiaen’s Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus has recently been released. His project to record the entire piano works of Beethoven is also now complete. Soon to come are the complete violin sonatas of Beethoven with Frank Peter Zimmermann.


Martin Helmchen was a student of Galina Iwanzowa at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, Arie Vardie at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hanover, and William Grant Naboré. His career took off when he won the 2001 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition at the age of nineteen. Other distinctions include a fellowship from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust (2005); the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award (2006), which culminated in his debut with at the Lucerne Festival with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Valery Gergiev; as well as featured soloist in the “BBC New Generation Artists” program from 2005-2007.

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