Sebastian Knauer


Sebastian Knauer was born in 1971 in Hamburg, Germany, and began playing the piano at the age of four. His teachers included Gernot Kahl, Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Philippe Entremont, Andràs Schiff, Christoph Eschenbach and Alexis Weissenberg.

A prize-winner at numerous competitions, he gave his concerto debut at the age of 13, performing Haydn’s D-Major Piano Concerto in the Hamburg Musikhalle. Shortly afterwards followed his international debut as part of the “European Concert” series for RAI in Venice. Subsequent tours have taken him all over Europe, the USA, South America and Asia. He has performed in major concert halls such as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Berlin, Cologne and Munich Philharmonie, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna Musikvereinssaal and Konzerthaus, Barbican and Wigmore Hall London, Opéra Comique and Théatre Champs Elysées Paris, KKL Luzern, Tonhalle Zurich, Auditori Barcelona, Sala Verdi Milan, La Fenice Venice, Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Museum of Arts New York, Herbst Theatre San Francisco, Kravis Center Palm Beach, Téatro Municipal in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Toppan Hall Tokyo, Oriental Concert Hall Shanghai, Performing Arts Center Hong Kong and Forbidden Concert Hall Beijing.

The conductors with whom Sebastian Knauer has worked include Gerd Albrecht, Vladimir Fedosseyew, Fabio Luisi, Neeme Järvi, Sir Roger Norrington, Philippe Entremont, Eiji Oue, Jaap van Zweden, Thomas Hengelbrock, Pablo Gonzales, Francois Xavier Roth ,John Axelrod and Ingo Metzmacher. Together with Entremont , he regularly performs repertoire for two pianos, as was the case in Tel Aviv, where they played the Double Concertos of Mozart and Mendelssohn with the Israel Chamber Orchestra. Other major orchestras with whom Knauer has played are the Staatskapelle Dresden, Bamberg Symphony, NDR – Symphony and Radio Philharmonic, Hamburg Philharmonic and Symphony, SWF Baden Baden, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie, Concerto Cologne, the Vienna, Netherlands, Basel, Milan and Cologne Chamber, Radio Kamer Filharmonie Holland Camerata Salzburg, Luzern Symphony, Sinfonia Varsovia, Warsaw Philharmonic, Orchèstre Les Siècles, Real Filharmonia de Galicia, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, London Mozart Players, New York City Opera, Palm Beach Symphony, Qatar Philharmonic and Shanghai Philharmonic.

Between 1999 and 2002 he was performing and directing all 27 Mozart Piano Concertos with the Hamburg Philharmonic. Sebastian Knauer is a regular guest at Festival such as Rheingau, Schleswig Holstein, Klavierfestival Ruhr, Mecklenburg, Baden Baden, Bonn Beethovenfest, Bremen Musikfest, Bad Kissingen, Vienna, John Adams Festival of the BBC Symphony London, Bath, Colmar, Festival Berlioz, Dubrovnik, Menuhin Festival Gstaad, Vevey/Montreux, Byblos Festival Lebanon, Emilia Romagna Festival Italy, Lincoln Center Festival NY (USA), Ravinia (USA), Interlochen (USA), Savannah (USA), El Paso Pro Musica (USA), Santo Domingo (Dom.Rep.) and at the Shanghai Arts Festival. In Summer 2004 he gave his debut at the Salzburger Festspiele. In October 02 he performed for the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton in Berlin.

A dedicated chamber-musician, Sebastian Knauer now tours extensively with his Duo Partner Daniel Hope. Other artists with whom he worked together include Hermann Prey, Olaf Bär, Alban Gerhardt, Aron Quartet Vienna, Philharmonia Quartet Berlin (Berlin Philharmonic), John Neumeier and the Hamburg Ballet and the actor Klaus Maria Brandauer.

He recorded for Berlin Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Glissando, Naxos and Warner Classics with works of Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Chopin, Barber, Bernstein, Copland and Gershwin. The CD “East meets West” which he recorded together with Daniel Hope won the German “ECHO” and was nominated for the Grammy 2005.

His CD with Sir Roger Norrington and the Camerata Salzburg was celebrated as one of the best Mozart recordings ever, for his CD with works of Franz Schubert the Gramophone Magazine titled their review with the words: “Poise and discipline from a pianist we must hear more from”, his new CD “Pure Mendelssohn” was the Gramophone Editor’s choice in march 2009.


Poise and discipline from a pianist we must hear more from.(…) this disc is invaluable on two fronts. First, it introduces us in a first recording to 572 bars of original Schubert (…). Second, it presents the 35-year-old German pianist whose playing is a marvel of robust eloquence and unfaltering mastery, free from all distracting caprice or idiosyncrasy(…) All his performances are as disciplined as they are acute and I can scarcely wait to hear this finely recorded and most clear-sighted of pianists in the widest possible repertoire.

Gramophone Magazine

An sensitive and expressive musicianNot merely on account of the location was the central movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto K.271 the central event of the evening. Sebastian Knauer is a sensitive and expressive musician. He delivered the outer movements with tremendous panache.

Wiener Zeitung

Here’s something of a find Sebastian Knauer knows instinctively just how to flirt, tweek and swing with these juicy lyric temptations (…). He polishes these epigrammatic jewels with sophistication, charisma and improvisatory wit and whimsy, gauging exactly how to appear loose by playing tight. The engineering is blessed with fulsome tone and a well-defined, lifelike range. A triumph!

International Piano Quarterly

Gershwin – played by the remarkable young German Pianist Sebastian Knauer It is one of the most enjoyable and impressively recorded piano records I have encountered in a long time, and the music-making is glorious (…) For this intelligent pianist Gershwin is great music, and in his hands it is so performed (…) Gershwin, even in his smallest song, stands up to full classical treatment. We hear Rhapsody in blue in the intensely involving solo version, and this is the most musical performance I’ve heard. Knauer plays this big Gershwin with unabashed conviction and brilliance(…) Editor’s note: Mr van Sant has described the Knauer perfectly. He takes the music seriously. He takes time to smell the flowers, but he keeps up rhythms and moves things along. Since Europeans usually cannot play Gershwin at all, this is worth calling to your attention(…)

American Record Guide

An excellent soloist. Rich in variety and impudent in the corner movements, as well as dreamlike in the wonderful adagio assai: this was the outstanding interpretation of Ravel’s piano concerto in G-major.  Sebastian Knauer proved to be an excellent soloist, who formed an outstanding partnership with the Duisburg Philharmonic, conducted by John Axelrod (…)

Rheinische Post

One of the best Mozart recordings ever! Roger Norrington played this concerto with pianist Sebastian Knauer and the Camerata Salzburg just a stone’s throw from Mozart’s birthplace. Right from the start you’re enveloped by the pure glory of the orchestra’s sound. When Knauer begins his solo, your first thought is: what understatement! Doesn’t he want to make it onto the poster? But this delicate style is Mozart’s hallmark. Knauer doesn’t stride around like an athlete; he wanders like a dreamer, like an agile Franciscan communing with nature. The result is enchanting, as if he’s tiptoeing through the Garden of Eden.

Die Zeit

Sir Roger Norrington’s  concerts with the Camerata Salzburg under the sign of SchubertSchubert’s last sonata (B Major D960), played in the Sunday concert before the last symphony, was an un-missable programme item.Sebastian Knauer is an exceptional pianist (…) Knauer radiates a spiritualised tonality, causing themes and their transformations to glide through one another quite naturally. It is amazing that out of this comes nothing watered-down, but wondrous contours subtly shimmering through. Knauer led the Andante with pure, uncompromising lyricism, without producing an endless chant (…) Threads were teased out Con delicatezza in the Scherzo and in the final movement, with its themes constantly tumbling through joy and depression, the pianist found his starkest contrasts, without ever over-stressing the Forte

Salzburger Nachrichten

Impression of spontaneity The big attraction here is the performance of the Piano Concerto in D, K451. Roger Norrington and the Camerata Salzburg convey the forceful expression of the opening without sounding weightily grounded. Sebastian Knauer’s solos are unusually flighty and light-fingered, with something of the effortless grace of a darting bird. Knauer manages to give such an impression of spontaneity that he never seems to cover the same ground twice.

The Times

Joyful music – makingKnauer’s engaging lightness of touch works wonders in the too-rarely played D major piano concerto, K451. Add to this the decorous, tender partnering of the Camerata Salzburg under Norrington and the total effect is one of joyful music-making among friends. assic FM)  A Triumph !Here’s something of a find (…) Sebastian Knauer knows instinctively just how to flirt, tweek and swing with these juicy lyric temptations (…). He polishes these epigrammatic jewels with sophistication, charisma and improvisatory wit and whimsy, gauging exactly how to appear loose by playing tight. The engineering is blessed with fulsome tone and a well-defined, lifelike range. A triumph!

International Piano Quarterly

Finest tonal coloursAnyone who knew the work (Rhapsody in Blue) in its original 1924 line up with jazz band and piano would be well-aware of the variety and virtuosity a purely piano version would demand of the pianist. However, Knauer mastered the acrobatic feat of strength with bravura and plenty of fingertip feeling. The jazz inlays appeared to harmonise naturally with the classical tones, the finest tonal colours created almost narrative rhythmic accord – cascades thundered impressively but never stolidly.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Si le couplage peut paraitre incongru, le talent des interpretes fait indiscutablement la force de ce disque. Du KV 451, le pianiste allemand Sebastian Knauer propose une version radieuse, toute teintée d’optimisme. Avec un toucher agile et d’une rare finesse, il en livre la fougue et la delicate virtuosité, Norrington et la Camerata de Salzbourg lui ciselant un accompagnement d’orfevre.  C’est encore dans un climat de raffinement que D Hope (l’actuel violoniste du BAT) se joint au pianiste pour une lecture particulierement inspirée de la sonate KV 379. Si la fusion de leurs timbres est un delice, celle de leur pensée n’est pas moins envoutante. Dans cette oeuvre de forme insolite, ou l’improvisation semble souvent guider le propos, les deux interpretes rivalisent de subtilité et de charme, sans jamais perdre de vue l’essentiel, la sobrieté et l’humilité. Leur tendresse dans l’Adagio initial, la fraicheur de l’Allegro et l’inventivité des variations finales sont exaltantes. Si le violoniste use souvent de couleurs et d’articulations d’inspiration baroque, son jeu sait garder naturel et coherence (…) L’orchestration de la sontate (Wilby) respecte le charme de l’oeuvre originale et les interpretes y font preuve d’une poèsie sensiblement plus touchante que dans la version Midori/Eschenbach, parue voici quatre ans (Sony).


Knauer and Norrington find no languor in an ideally paced Andantino, nor a trivial outlook in a deftly accented, dynamic finale that finishes in swinging compound time.This carefully balanced and tonally excellent disc is most desirable.

Gramophone Magazine

From the very beginning the Hamburg-born pianist Sebastian Knauer kept his Wiesbaden audience completely under his spell during his recent performance of Beethoven’s concerto No. 3 in c-minor op. 37.Knauer, winner of several competitions, pupil of Karl-Heinz Kaemmerling and Philippe Entremont, is also a regular partner in duo performances with the violinist Daniel Hope.He is a craftsman who obviously learnt early on to handle the tools that ensure a perfect interpretation. His touch is of refined diversity, his well-balanced phrasing leads towards specifically designated notes, each single tone is carefully moulded and – in Beethoven’s music an extremely important factor – he has a clear perception of style.All this he knew to translate into action with seemingly boundless playing technique and without reserve in his recent performance.At times his pianistic attack and his timbre bore shades of Gerhard Oppitz and, like that artist, Knauer revealed in the encore his particular affection for the late works by Brahms.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung