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Alice Sara Ott
Alice Sara Ott


Alice Sara Ott
©Pascal Albandopulos

Profound musicianship, dazzling technical brilliance and emotional honesty have helped Alice Sara Ott secure and establish her place among the world’s leading classical performers, as reflected by a total number of album streams that has now topped 370 million. The German-Japanese musician’s poetic pianism, hailed by critics for its refinement and intensity, has drawn favourable comparisons with great artists from the past. She has also won plaudits for her innovative approach to programming and openness to artistic adventure. Ott’s dynamic music-making is guided by a desire to connect with the essential spirit of the works in her repertoire; above all, it flows from her innate ability to channel an apparently inexhaustible supply of expressive nuance and imaginative insight into every performance.

Alice Sara Ott signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon in 2008. She announced her arrival on the label the following year with an acclaimed album of Liszt’s Etudes d’exécution transcendante. Her second album, comprising Chopin’s complete waltzes, was issued in January 2010, while her debut orchestral recording on the Yellow Label – the first piano concertos of Tchaikovsky and Liszt, made with the Münchner Philharmoniker and Thomas Hengelbrock – earned her the “Young Artist of the Year” title at the 2010 Echo Klassik Awards. Ott’s recording of Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata and other piano works, released in August 2011, was followed in January 2013 by Pictures, an album of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Schubert’s Piano Sonata No.17 in D major, D 850 recorded live in St Petersburg.

That same month she also released a recording of works by Clara Schumann made in partnership with violinist Lisa Batiashvili. September 2014 saw the release of Scandale, including the original piano duet version of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, recorded with Francesco Tristano. This was followed two years later by Wonderland, featuring Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and a selection of the composer’s Lyric Pieces for solo piano. Nightfall, released in August 2018 to coincide with the tenth anniversary of her partnership with DG, captured Ott’s nuanced explorations of light and shade in a selection of works by Debussy, Satie and Ravel.

For her next album, Echoes Of Life, issued in August 2021, she chose to frame Chopin’s Préludes Op.28 with seven contemporary compositions, including the world premiere recordings of Ott’s own Lullaby To Eternity and Francesco Tristano’s Bach-inspired In the Beginning Was, together with works by Chilly Gonzales, György Ligeti, Tōru Takemitsu, Nino Rota and Arvo Pärt. Echoes Of Life – Deluxe Edition followed in October 2023, its 11 newly recorded tracks (by J.S. Bach, Field, Chopin, Valentin Silvestrov and Chilly Gonzales) designed to complement the original album.

In spring 2023 Ott became the face of the Apple Music Classical app, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in its launch video with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Karina Canellakis. Their recording of the concerto is the headline work on the pianist’s latest album, Beethoven, where it is accompanied by a series of solo pieces, including Für Elise and the “Moonlight” Sonata. Beethoven was released in September 2023.

Recent and forthcoming highlights of the 2023–24 season include residencies at London’s Southbank Centre and Radio France in Paris; a performance at Berlin’s Pop Kudamm in DG’s Yellow Lounge club-meets-classics series (October); an extensive Echoes Of Life tour of Asia, featuring Hakan Demirel’s immersive installation, with dates in China, Hong Kong and Japan (November/December); the world premiere of Bryce Dessner’s piano concerto in Zurich with the Tonhalle-Orchester and Kent Nagano (18 January 2024), and further performances of the work in Paris (9 February) and Cincinnati (3/4 May); Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in Birmingham and on tour in Germany and Slovenia with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Kazuki Yamada (21 February, 6‑16 March); and her debut with the New York Philharmonic, playing Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major (4 April).

Alice Sara Ott was born in Munich in 1988 to a German father and Japanese mother. She fell in love with the piano at the age of three while attending a recital with her parents, which led the following year to her first lessons on the instrument. She scored a notable success in Basel in 2008 when she replaced Murray Perahia at short notice in recital. Over the past decade she has worked with conductors of the highest calibre, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Myung-Whun Chung, Gustavo Dudamel, Edward Gardner, Pablo Heras-Casado, Paavo Järvi, Neeme Järvi, Hannu Lintu, Gianandrea Noseda, Sakari Oramo, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Sir Antonio Pappano, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Yuri Temirkanov, Robin Ticciati and Osmo Vänskä among them.

In addition to her work in the concert hall and recording studio, Ott has forged strong relationships with several leading international brands – as well as Apple Music, these include Technics, the hi-fi audio brand of the Panasonic Corporation and JOST Bags (Germany), for whom she designed a signature line of high-end leather bags. She has also worked closely with the French jewellery house Chaumet, part of the LVMH group, and the German jeweller Wempe.

Driven by a desire to share classical music with the most diverse audience possible, Alice Sara Ott has drawn many to the concert hall for the first time and introduced countless others to unfamiliar repertoire. “I want to remove the notion that classical music is just something for rich educated people,” she says. “It’s not. You don’t have to be educated to enjoy classical music; you get educated by listening to it.”


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