One can hardly think of any other pianist and composer of the younger generation who is as versatile and accomplished as Kit Armstrong, hailed by the New York Times as a “brilliant pianist” who “combines musical maturity and youthful daring in his exceptional playing”. Kit Armstrong’s approach to music is inspired by his education in sciences and mathematics. He has developed a strong artistic profile by tracing the roots of western classical keyboard music to the 16th century virginalists, making musical rarities an integral part of his performances and relating them to the great classical masterpieces of the piano literature.
So it is a coherent step for Kit Armstrong to present himself on his debut album on Deutsche Grammophon with works by William Byrd and John Bull, the founding fathers of the keyboard music genre, thus contributing to a greater awareness of this music. With the opposed musical personalities of these two composers – of pure intricate beauty on one side and passionate self-expression on the other – they together created the universe that has defined solo instrumental music ever since. The album will be released in July 2021.
For the upcoming seasons, Kit Armstrong has developed a cycle of 500 Years Piano Music. In the chronology he has conceived, the musical currents, influences and cross-references unfold particularly impressively for the listeners as they traverse five centuries of musical history from 1520 to 2020. Kit Armstrong will also further deepen his study of Mozart and his love of this work. Mozart’s piano concertos will play a central role as well as the cyclic performance of all piano sonatas. In addition, he will perform the complete violin sonatas with the violinist Renaud Capucon.
Armstrong collaborates with many of the world’s most sought-after conductors, including among others Christian Thielemann, Herbert Blomstedt, Riccardo Chailly, Kent Nagano, Manfred Honeck, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mario Venzago, and Robin Ticciati. He has appeared with some of the world’s finest orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhaus Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. He was artist-in-residence at the 2018 festival edition of Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and “Artist-in-Resonance” at Musikkollegium Winterthur, and is a long-standing partner of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.
Recent solo recitals brought him to the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Munich Prinzregententheater, Klavierfestival Ruhr, Philharmonie de Luxembourg and Cologne Philharmonie.
A passionate chamber music recitalist, Kit Armstrong has developed close artistic partnerships with other leading instrumental and vocal artists. Together with Renaud Capuçon he presented the complete Mozart violin sonatas at the Salzburg Mozartwoche Festival and at Berlin’s Boulez Hall. With Christiane Karg, Julian Prégardien, Benjamin Appl and others he has performed important Lied repertoire. Armstrong also appeared as an organist in recitals at the Berlin Philharmonie, Cologne Philharmonie and Konzerthaus Vienna. Edition Peters publishes his compositions. Commissioners include the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Musikkollegium Winterthur.
In 2012, the purchase of a church in Hirson in Northern France, near the Belgian border, started a unique success story that continues to receive a great deal of media attention. The church of St. Thérèse has since become a socio-cultural center which regularly organizes concerts and interdisciplinary projects for a regional and wider audience.
Armstrong’s previous solo albums include Liszt: Symphonic Scenes (“handsomely demonstrates the startling rich context given to the Mephisto Waltz when heard after the multi-dimensional Procession by Night” – Gramophone) and Bach, Ligeti, Armstrong (“one of the very few CDs that the world was waiting for” – Kulturradio RBB), both released by Sony Classical. The live performance of a solo recital at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, released on DVD in 2017 by Unitel under the title Kit Armstrong Performs Bach’s Goldberg Variations and its Predecessors received worldwide praise as one of the most outstanding performances on record (Instrumental Choice December 2017, BBC Music Magazine).
Born in 1992 in Los Angeles, Armstrong studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. At 7, he started studying composition at Chapman University and physics at California State University, later also chemistry and mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania and mathematics at the Imperial College London. He earned a master’s degree in pure mathematics at the University of Paris VI.
Alfred Brendel, who has guided Armstrong as teacher and mentor since 2005, ascribes to him “an understanding of the great piano works that combines freshness and subtlety, emotion and intellect”. Their relationship was captured in the film Set the Piano Stool on Fire by Mark Kidel.