Biography

Described as “consummate practitioners of pianism” (The Washington Post) Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem enjoy an international career as exponents of music for both piano duet and two keyboards. Their innovative programming reflects the full gamut of this delightful repertoire, from four-hand works of Mozart, Schubert, and Brahms, to favorite lighter masterpieces by Poulenc and Milhaud, and contemporary works championed or commissioned by Aebersold and Neiweem.

Aebersold and Neiweem are currently celebrating 35 years before the public. They have been heard on RAI-TV Italy, PBS television, and on WFMT Radio in Chicago, where they performed an unprecedented series of thirty live broadcast concerts covering virtually the complete four-hand repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries. The duo has appeared with orchestras internationally, including the Chicago Philharmonic and the Vienna Tonkünstler. They have been heard in recital in many cities throughout the USA and Europe, including Chicago, New York, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Santa Fe, Vienna, Rome and Florence and Odessa, Ukraine. In Italy alone they have given over 200 recitals throughout Tuscany and Umbria. They have taken their two pianos to many community concert organizations throughout Midwestern USA and Canada. Performances in New York include a pair of all-Schubert recitals at the Goethe Institute, and a 25th anniversary celebration concert at Merkin Hall. In 2005 they judged the 1st International Two-piano Competition “Twentyfingers” in Rome, Italy. Other highlights of the duo’s recent seasons include performances at the prestigious University of Vermont Lane Series, the Detroit Institute of Art, and the Gina Bachauer series in Salt Lake City, Utah, and their 10th recital at the International Music Festival “Pitten Classics” in Austria. The duo has performed the four hand versions Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and Rite of Spring on WFMT and many venues throughout the country.

Aebersold and Neiweem are founders and directors of the NEA award-winning Chicago Duo-Piano Festival, held annually at the Music Institute of Chicago, where their festival recently sponsored the Chicago International Competition for Piano Duos. They have given masterclasses and workshops at schools including Northwestern University, Dartmouth College, University of Vermont, University of Wisconsin, Northern Illinois University, Lawrence University, and have guested at MTNA State conventions. The duo has commissioned significant new works for the piano duo, including Joseph Turrin’s “Symmetries” for Two Pianos, “Great Movements” Sonata for piano, four hands and “Novel Dances” for two pianos by Patrick Byers. Aebersold and Neiweem’s CDs on the Summit label include the recently released “Four-Hand Reflections”, the world premiere recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 in the composer’s own arrangement for piano, four-hands, and volumes 1 and 2 of a complete traversal of Schubert’s four-hand music, praised by Gramophone Magazine as “utterly charming…warmly recommended.” Their editions of four-hand arrangements by Brahms and Mendelssohn have been published by Dover, International, and they have written award-winning articles for Clavier Magazine.

Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem met in Italy in 1970 as young solo performers at a music festival in Umbria. They were married in 1973 and have devoted themselves to the exclusive study of the duo repertoire since 1981. Claire Aebersold is a native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee and is a graduate of the New England Conservatory. Ralph Neiweem hails from Evanston, Illinois and is a graduate of the Juilliard School. Both completed graduate studies at Northwestern University and received artist diplomas from Villa Schifanoia in Florence, Italy. Their common teachers include Irwin Freundlich, Theodore Lettvin, John Browning and Orazio Frugoni, at whose urging they became a duo. They are currently Artists-in-Residence at the Music Institute of Chicago.