Gerhard Oppitz is a pianist in the tradition of the “German” piano titans of the 20th century – a Wilhelm Kempff, Claudio Arrau or Wilhelm Backhaus.
“Oppitz’s compelling clarity is more important than the accumulation of virtuoso moments of success” (Hamburger Abendblatt). Die Welt described his Brahms playing as “rapturous clarity,” and the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote (about a concert in Munich in April 2018): “A classical and wonderful way of playing Beethoven.”
His international career took off in 1977, when he became the first German to win the coveted Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv. The ninety-year-old Rubinstein himself sat on the jury. Concert tours through Europe, Japan and the USA followed. In 1978 Oppitz recorded the first of numerous CDS; with a discography of 78 recordings. In 1981 Oppitz was offered a professorship at the Musikhochschule in Munich, which he held until 2012.
In the course of his artistic life, Gerhard Oppitz has repeatedly played with legendary conductors – Carlo Maria Giulini, Eugen Jochum, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Charles Dutoit, Dimitri Kitaenko, Herbert Blomstedt, Marek Janowski, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Neville Marriner, Paavo Järvi, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti. CD and video recordings document these collaborations.
Oppitz has often played complete cycles of works in concert – Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier,” the sonatas of Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart, and especially the piano works of Johannes Brahms. He has performed the complete Brahms cycle more than thirty times in Europe, the USA and Japan. At the Rheingau Music Festival he performed all of Schubert’s solo works in eleven full-length programs. His 1990 recording of the complete piano works of Brahms was followed in 1993 by a recording of the two Brahms piano concertos with Sir Colin Davis, as well as a series of seven CDs of the piano compositions of Edvard Grieg on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth. His 1995 and 1996 recordings of the Beethoven piano concertos with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Marek Janowski are exemplary. Oppitz’s recording of the complete works for piano and orchestra by Carl Maria von Weber, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis, was released in 1997. Most recently, all of Beethoven’s sonatas and all of Schubert’s sonatas were released, as well as a CD of Japanese piano music. Following a recording of all Schumann’s works for piano and orchestra with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marc Andreae, a recording of Schumann’s solo works is currently in progress.
In 2009, Gerhard Oppitz received the Brahms Prize of the Brahms Society Schleswig Holstein, previously awarded to Leonard Bernstein and Lord Yehudi Menuhin. Since 2014 he has been a recipient of the Bavarian Order of Maximilian for Science and Art, the highest honor bestowed by the Free State of Bavaria on Johannes Brahms in 1873.