Monday 29 May 2023, 7:30 p.m.
Twenty-four-year-old Matyáš Novák is one of the most promising pianists of his generation thanks to his extraordinary harmonic sensitivity, wide-ranging repertoire, and superb finger technique. His list of competition successes and music awards is very long indeed. This year, he was the only Czech out of almost 300 competing musicians to rank among the six finalists of the jubilee 20th Santander International Piano Competition, which is regarded by experts as one of the most prestigious events of its kind. Although he did not win, he declared with satisfaction: “Sometimes you win but feel like a loser, other times the laurels are lost within your reach, yet you feel like a victor.”
Matyáš Novák started playing on the piano when he was five. He graduated from J. K. Tyl Grammar School in Hradec Králové and from the Pardubice Conservatoire under Prof. Jitka Fowler Fraňková. He is currently studying at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, under Prof. Ivan Klánský (who placed second at Santander in 1976, by the by), and he also attends the famous piano academy Incontri col Maestro in Imola, Italy, mentored by Prof. Boris Petrushansky.
He performs dozens of concerts every year, both in the Czech Republic and abroad. His recitals have taken him to many countries throughout Europe, also Thailand and the US. In 2015 and 2016 he completed two successful concert tours of China, and 2017 saw him debut in New York’s Carnegie Hall. Later that year he released his debut CD with Franz Liszt’s cycle Years of Pilgrimage: First Year: Switzerland and became one of three musicians to receive the CME International Performing Arts Grant from the Center for Musical Excellence in New Jersey.
Matyáš Novák is also in much demand as a chamber musician and repetiteur, and he regularly cooperates with a number of orchestras, such as the Brno Philharmonic, the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, the Prague Chamber Orchestra, the Pardubice Chamber Philharmonic, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra, or the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. He is invited to festivals at home and abroad and continues to improve his artistic abilities at masterclasses led by leading figures of the field, such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Grigory Guzman, Antti Siirala, Andrea Bonatta, David Kuyken, or Leonid Margarius.
His astounding success in numerous national and international competitions can be exemplified by a select few examples: overall winner of the International Competition for Young Musician Concertino Praga (2015) in the Duo category, Grand Prix at the Evangelia Tjiarri Piano Competition in Larnaca, Cyprus (2015), first prize at the Jenö Takács Klavierwettbewerb (2016) or the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition (2017), and second place and the Steinway Prize at the Edvard Grieg International Competition in Bergen, Norway (2018).
Matyáš Novák focuses solely on classical music – other genres just aren’t for him, he says. He has an affinity for Bach and Mozart, but the composer closest to his heart is Liszt. He also takes an active interest in railways, and he keeps numerous breeds of hens.