Robert Silverman

Robert Silverman, pianist, teacher (b at Montréal, Qué 25 May 1938). Silverman came to a full life of music late, by his own account, having first concentrated on engineering, though he made his debut with the MONTREAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA when he was 14.

Silverman, Robert

Robert Silverman, pianist, teacher (b at Montréal, Qué 25 May 1938). Silverman came to a full life of music late, by his own account, having first concentrated on engineering, though he made his debut with the MONTREAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA when he was 14. He holds a BA (Sir George Williams,1960), an M Mus (Eastman School of Music, Rochester, 1965), an Artist Diploma (Eastman,1968) and a DMA (Eastman,1970).

His professional debut came in Montréal in 1961, and from 1961 to 1963 he studied at the Vienna Academy and subsequently at McGill University and again at Eastman. A major turning point in his career was his performance of his first 2 New York recitals (a week apart), both splendidly reviewed, at the age of 39 (1978). He has appeared as a soloist with Canadian orchestras, as well as with major ensembles in the US, the UK, Australia and Europe, 2 of the most memorable concerts for him involving a performance with the Chicago Symphony of the Tchaikovsky concerto (1982) and with the St Petersburg (Leningrad) Symphony of the 4th Beethoven concerto (1983). He has given recitals in the Orient as well as in North American and European centres, has appeared at various festivals and has performed with a number of distinguished chamber ensembles (eg, Curtis, St Lawrence, Lafayette, ORFORD and Purcell quartets). Silverman's repertoire is wide ranging, though the emphasis is clearly on major works of the 19th and 20th centuries, including compositions by Canadian composers, a number of which he has premiered. He has recently (1997-99) concentrated on the Beethoven sonatas, playing all of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Seattle, and recording them for Orpheum Masters. His extensive discography reflects his diversity; his recording (1975) of music by Liszt won the 1977 Grand Prix du Disque (Liszt Society, Budapest) and that of Michael Baker's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, recorded with the VANCOUVER SYMPHONY, earned a JUNO Award in 1991.

Silverman was pianist-in-residence at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, from 1967 to 1969; he taught at the University of California (1969-70) and the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee (1970-73), joining the faculty of UBC in 1973, and serving as director of the School of Music there from 1991 to 1996. He endeavours to teach his students to link technical fluency with "acquiring a musical vision of the whole piece" and a "consciousness of line - the importance of each voice." Marked by virtuosity and strength, Silverman's performances demonstrate a profound sensitivity and musicianship, a clarity of tone and an attention to phrase and nuance which is the result of dedicated attention to detail and a sense of stylistic and cultural context. He was the first winner of the Paul de Hueck and Norman Walford Career Achievement Award for Keyboard Artistry (Ontario Arts Council Foundation) in 1998.


Further Reading

  • H. Kallmann et al, eds, Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (1992).