After 33 years the curtain falls for the Master Pianists series in the Royal Concertgebouw
COVID-19 drives Riaskoff Concert Management out of business
We have to throw in the towel. The limitation of concert audiences to a maximum of 350 seats for each event, in a hall seating 2,000 people at full capacity, presents us with unsurmountable problems.
After 33 years full of pianistic prowess and musical splendour, this recent development has forced us to put a stop to one of the most prestigious concert series in the world, the Master Pianists series in Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw.
Something that seemed unimaginable six months ago, a pandemic destroying our well-attended recital series of world-class pianists, suddenly became a reality.
Over the past six months, we already had to cancel six recitals at great expense. For the upcoming season, with a total of 13 new concerts already planned, in addition to 4 rescheduled recitals deferred from the lockdown months, the measures necessitated by Covid-19 leave us with an unworkable situation.
With a maximum of 350 seats per concert, when minimum sales of 1,600 tickets are usually needed simply to cover the costs, the series no longer proves viable. Always having managed to work without state funding, this development has now forced us to discontinue all our activities.
This is a very difficult and emotional decision for me personally – all the more painful when I think of all our loyal season ticket holders and other habitual visitors, lovers of piano music of all ages, some of whom have rarely missed a recital since the very beginning in 1987. In addition to the quality of the artists featured, the success of our series was due in great part also – as many pianists assured me – to the keen attention and musical passion of our audience.
Many a young talent was launched in our series. Old maestros made surprising comebacks. World-class pianists at the top of their game often came here and confirmed their reputations with legendary performances. Many of them have become my best friends. Indelible memories were created by jubilee concerts featuring five or six pianists playing both solo and all together.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who collaborated on the Master Pianist series. I also want to thank our loyal and ever curious audience. And most of all I would like to thank the staff and management of the Royal Concertgebouw, whom I was privileged to work with in realizing this exciting and wonderful adventure.
These pianists made their appearance in the Master Pianists series since 1987:
Behzod Abduraimov, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piotr Anderszewski, Leif Ove Andsnes, Martha Argerich & Stephen Kovacevich, Martha Argerich & Alexander Rabinovich, Martha Argerich & Lilya Zilberstein, Kit Armstrong, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Boris Berezovsky, Lazar Berman, Jonathan Biss, Rafał Blechacz, Jorge Bolet, Ronald Brautigam, Alfred Brendel, Yefim Bronfman, Gianluca Cascioli, Shura Cherkassky, Seong-Jin Cho, Aldo Ciccolini, Roberto Cominati, Bella Davidovich, Severin von Eckardstein, Till Fellner, David Fray, Nelson Freire, Alexander Gavrylyuk, Bruno Leonardo Gelber, Jonathan Gilad, Boris Giltburg, Nelson Goerner, Richard Goode, Hélène Grimaud, Horacio Gutiérrez, Marc-André Hamelin, Michael Kieran Harvey, Stephen Hough, Lucas & Arthur Jussen, Cyprien Katsaris, Evgeny Kissin, Zoltán Kocsis, Evgeny Koroliov, Denis Kozhukhin, Anna Kravtchenko, Anton Kuerti Katia & Marielle Labèque, Marc Laforet, Lang Lang, Alicia de Larrocha, Igor Levit, Paul Lewis, Yundi Li, Louis Lortie, Andrea Lucchesini, Nikolai Lugansky, Radu Lupu, Denis Matsuev, Hannes Minnaar, Joseph Moog, Ivan Moravec, Olli Mustonen, Enrico Pace, Enrico Pace & Igor Roma, Murray Perahia, Maria João Pires, Maria João Pires & Ricardo Castro, Mikhail Pletnev, Ivo Pogorelich, Maurizio Pollini, Jean-Bernard Pommier, Jorge Luis Prats, Beatrice Rana, Dezsö Ránki, Igor Roma, Alexander Romanovsky, György Sándor, Sir András Schiff, Grigory Sokolov, Yevgeny Sudbin, Alexandre Tharaud, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Maria Tipo, Alexander Toradze, Daniil Trifonov, Simon Trpceski, Nobuyuki Tsujii, Mitsuko Uchida, Anatol Ugorski, Elisso Virsaladze, Alexei Volodin, Arcadi Volodos, Yuja Wang, Earl Wild, Christian Zacharias, Lilya Zilberstein, Krystian Zimerman.
Comments from some of the icons young and old of the Master Pianists series:
‘The news that Marco Riaskoff has to discontinue his Piano Series at the Concertgebouw is most disturbing. This series was one of the outstanding fixtures of the international concert scene. For pianists to be included was an honour. Marco has masterminded it over many years not only as an organiser but also as an ardent and discerning music lover with true sympathy for the artists as human beings. Thank you ever so much, Marco!’
‘It saddens me deeply to hear that the long-standing Master Pianists series by Riaskoff Concert Management has to come to a sudden end. There is no doubt that the Master Pianists series has been of essential importance for the cultural life in the Netherlands and beyond for more than three decades.’
‘I have been fortunate to perform for this extraordinary concert series on numerous occasions during the last 12 years and I owe Marco Riaskoff and the Master Pianists series deep gratitude for the most inspiring artistic experiences and opportunities. It is natural for me to refer to the Master Pianists series as one of the most important cultural leaders of the Netherlands and also one of the most internationally recognised piano series in the world.’
Lucas en Arthur Jussen:
‘For years we regularly went to the Concertgebouw on Sunday evenings to attend the recitals in the Master Pianists series, an experience that proved essential for our own development as pianists. We very quickly felt that what we were witnessing there was music making of the highest level. We were also impressed by the atmosphere in the hall and the prestige the series radiated. Over the years we discovered that this series was unique in its kind and in the world. The way in which Marco Riaskoff established and presided over this series sets an example for every piano series worldwide: with lots of respect for the artists, tremendous passion for the music and great hospitality.’