Robert Thies

A pianist of “unerring, warm-toned refinement, revealing judicious glimmers of power,” [Los
Angeles Times] Robert Thies (pronounced “Theece”) is an artist renowned for his
consummate musicianship and poetic temperament. He first captured worldwide attention in
1995 when he won the Gold Medal at the Second International Prokofiev Competition in St.
Petersburg, Russia. With this victory, Thies became the only American pianist to win first prize
in a Russian piano competition since Van Cliburn’s famed triumph in Moscow in 1958.
This victory brought accolades from the White House, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Governor
Pete Wilson, and Mayor Richard Riordan. The Los Angeles City Council declared February
16, 1996 “Robert Edward Thies Day,” and Robert was featured on the July 1996 cover of
Piano and Keyboard magazine. His win was announced in the International Herald Tribune,
and the Los Angeles Times wrote a feature article, “Another American Pianist Invades
Russia, Successfully.”
Conductor Jorge Mester hails Robert “a genius”, and Maestra JoAnn Falletta touted after a
recent performance, “Conducting the Brahms Second Piano Concerto with Robert Thies was
one of the most beautiful and deeply satisfying musical experiences of my life.”
Praised for his “thoughtful and intensely moving interpretations” Thies enjoys a diverse
career as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. He has already performed
forty concerti with orchestras all over the world. In one season alone he performed thirteen
different concerti, garnering consistent critical acclaim. He has appeared with such orchestras
as the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, Liepāja Symphony (Latvia), Mexico City
Philharmonic, the National Symphony of Mexico, Auckland Philharmonia (New Zealand),
Louisville Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic,
Pasadena Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, and the Naples Philharmonic. His concerts
have been broadcast throughout the United States, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Bolivia, Hungary,
Mexico, and New Zealand.
As a Steinway artist and frequent recitalist in the United States and abroad, Mr. Thies has
developed a reputation as a genuine and sincere artist, creating delicately balanced programs
and performing in a manner to draw focus to the composer rather than to himself. Under the
sponsorship of Community Concerts, he completed a forty-city tour of the United States in
2001. In May 1999, he was honored with a special invitation to perform in the Hermitage
Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, built for Empress Catherine the Great. His South
American debut occurred in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2002, and he has given recitals in
Mexico, Germany, Austria, and Hungary.
A dedicated chamber musician, Thies is highly sought after as a collaborator, and he has
shared the stage with many esteemed musicians, including those from the LA Philharmonic
and the LA Chamber Orchestra. In March 2012 he was the official pianist for the
International Piatigorsky Cello Festival at USC, at which he performed over 25 works in one
week and played a recital with renowned cellist, Thomas Demenga. In May 2016 he will
reprise this role. An avid proponent of art song, Thies has also appeared with many
outstanding singers in recital, most recently in Los Angeles with LA Opera baritone, Ryan
McKinny in a performance of Schubert’s great opus, Winterreise. In the coming months he
will perform with sopranos Heidi Grant Murphy and Iris Malkin. Over the past decade he
founded the Thies Piano Quartet, the Pantoum Trio, and most recently, The Thies Consort.
The Consort performs a wide range of works of varying instrumentation and size, thus
allowing for innovative and unique programming with musical continuity based on a style,
composer, or other concept.
Thies’s “grace and unsurpassed lyricism” are in high demand at festivals and special
celebrations. In 2002, in conjunction with the Hollywood premiere of Roman Polanski’s film
The Pianist, he performed Władysław Szpilman’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra with
the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony. That same year Thies earned national recognition for his
collaboration with noted cultural historian and author, Joseph Horowitz, in the Pacific
Symphony’s Dvořák in America festival. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Arnold
Schoenberg’s death, Thies was invited to Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes in 2001 to
perform the composer’s seldom-heard Piano Concerto with the National Symphony of
Mexico, a memorized performance for which he received high critical acclaim. During the
fall of 1997 Mr. Thies worked alongside distinguished late Polish composer Henryk Górecki
in the United States premiere of his Piano Sonata. This collaboration was later documented in
a 2012 Polish documentary entitled Please Find Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. In a commemorative
gesture just after Górecki’s recent passing, Thies’s performance was broadcast on KUSC 91.5
FM Classical Radio. Thies has performed at the music festivals of Ravinia, Aspen, Sedona,
Cape May, Music Academy of the West, Mostly Mozart, the San Luis Obispo Mozart
Festival, High Desert Chamber Music, and the Port Townsend Chamber Music Festival.
In Los Angeles, Thies has worked and recorded with many of the top studio musicians, and
has worked with such film composers as James Newton Howard, the late James Horner,
Danny Elfman, Mychael Danna, Aaron Zigman, Christopher Young, and Lalo Schifrin. His
playing can be heard prominently in the 2015 film, Concussion, as well as in Mychael
Danna’s Oscar winning score to The Life of Pi. He was a featured pianist on Danny Elfman’s
concert piece: Serenada Schizophrana and a featured musician in a 2015 live performance of
Elfman’s A Nightmare Before Christmas at the Hollywood Bowl. In 2010 Grammy winning
conductor, Lucas Richman, invited him to join a full symphony orchestra on a North
American tour of John Williams’ Star Wars in Concert.
Thies’s recordings can be found on the Centaur, Albany, Golden Tone, and Denouement
Records labels. In 2014, he recorded two works of composer, Bruce Babcock, a sonata by
Bruce Babcock; and in 2015 with violinist Linda Wang, he recorded recently discovered
masterpieces by Ravel and Messiaen. He has also made numerous classical recordings for
Yamaha Disklavier, featuring the music of Prokofiev, Ravel, Brahms, and Beethoven. He has
premiered and recorded works written for him, such as Stu Phillip’s Variations for Piano and
Orchestra, and Kevin Kaska’s Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, and premiered many works
by Austrian composer, Gernot Wolfgang. In February 2006 Robert released his debut solo
recording Live in Recital. In June 2006, he recorded a crossover improvisational CD
Difference with Croatian flutist, Damjan Krajacic. In the Fall of 2012 he released a follow-up
duet album with Krajacic, Blue Landscapes, of original compositions and improvisations.
Mr. Thies is sought after as a master class teacher, chamber music coach, lecturer, and
adjudicator across the globe. As a private teacher, his students have won competitions and
been accepted to major music conservatories around the country. In 2012 he was hired to the
faculty of The Colburn School but resigned in 2016 to focus on his performance career. In
June 2015 Thies presented a program of Scandinavian music at the Royal Academy of Music
in Stockholm, Sweden as a member of the College Music Society. In 2013, he was
appointed Director of Chamber Music at the European American Musical Alliance (EAMA)
in Paris, France.
In May 2012, he gave a webinar simultaneously to three universities in the United States and
Mexico, and spoke about developing one’s musicianship to open up various music career
options. He is also a frequent guest lecturer to various branches of the Music Teachers
Association of California. From 2003-07, he was a member of the faculty of the American
Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, to work beside his former teacher, Harold
Heiberg, an authority on German art song. There Thies coached singers and pianists
primarily on the works of the great Germanic composers of Lied: Brahms, Wolf, Strauss,
Schubert, and Schumann.
Though born on the East Coast, Thies makes a home in Los Angeles. His teachers have
included Robert Turner and Daniel Pollack, both protégés of the legendary Russian
pedagogue Madame Rosina Lhevinne, and the great pianist Josef Lhevinne.

© 2017