Capture Sweetness (2018, US premiere)
Music Without Metaphor (2013)
Book of Sounds (1979-1982)
For Bunita Marcus (1985)
"A restless, inquiring mind"
Serbian American pianist Ivan Ilić enjoys a unique place in today’s musical landscape thanks to his unconventional repertoire and multifaceted approach. By combining performing with writing, producing radio and video, and drawing upon key interdisciplinary experiences with visual art, acting, and the neuroscience of learning, he develops new audiences for unfamiliar music.
His eclecticism is reflected in his choice of musical projects, which range from the notoriously difficult Chopin/Godowsky studies, to the delicate abstraction of Morton Feldman, to his most recent enterprise: the rediscovery of music by Beethoven’s Czech friend and contemporary, Antoine Reicha (1770-1836).
In 2016 he began focussing on Reicha’s neglected piano music, which he is recording in a 5-album series for Chandos Records. Volume 1 of the Reicha Rediscovered series, supported by Swiss Radio RTS and the Palazzetto Bru Zane in Venice, led to a surge of interest in Reicha’s music. Editorial and reviews in the British, German, French, and Italian classical media raised the same question: how is it possible that such remarkable music by a friend of Beethoven, a student of Haydn, and the counterpoint teacher of Liszt, Berlioz, Franck and others, has never been recorded before? After the score languished in the French National Library for over 200 years, a piece from Volume 1 was listened to over 1,000,000 times on Apple Music. This led to a short documentary series about Reicha written and presented by Ilić, which in turn led to a widely-shared feature story in The New York Times. Volume 2 of the series was released in September 2018, with prominent media coverage in Germany, France, Luxembourg, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Korea and Australia. In a five-star review, BBC Music Magazine wrote “In this pianist, Reicha’s music has the best possible advocate”.
Ilić earned degrees in mathematics and music at the University of California Berkeley before moving to Paris with a Hertz Fellowship. He then studied at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris, where he received a Premier Prix, and the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris for postgraduate work. The City of Paris sponsored his first recording.
Early career highlights included recitals at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Ireland's
National Concert Hall, Toronto's Glenn Gould Studio, and the American Academy in Rome. He recently gave recital débuts in Vienna, Sao Paulo, Geneva, and Amsterdam.
Recordings have played a significant role in spreading Ilić’s international recognition. His CD of 24 Préludes by Claude Debussy  received Mezzo Television's Critic's Choice Award in France, and was a Top Five CD of the Year of Fanfare Magazine and Classique News.
His next CD  featured the complete Chopin Studies for the left hand by Leopold Godowsky, a tour-de-force of musicianship and virtuosity. The recording was described as "a major achievement" and "breathtaking" by BBC Radio 3. It featured prominently in The Daily Telegraph [CD of the Week], German MDR Figaro [Top 5 CD], and Czech Radio [5 stars]. The album was broadcast widely across 6 continents. Videos of Ivan performing Godowsky on YouTube attracted over 500,000 views. Shortly afterwards, Ivan made his acting début in two French short films: Luc Plissonneau's Les Mains and Benoît Maire's Le Berger.
From left hand repertoire, Ilić shifted his focus to US composer Morton Feldman, which led to a trilogy of publications. The first was a CD, The Transcendentalist . The programme suggested a connection between Scriabin miniatures and late Feldman, with detours in early John Cage and a Feldmanesque new work by Scott Wollschleger. It was the Critic's Choice of BR Klassik [DE], Swiss Radio Espace 2 [CH], Listen Magazine [US], and Classique News [FR]. It was also a CD of the month of Sinfini Music [UK] and TGV Magazine [FR], won a Supersonic Award from Pizzicato Magazine [LU], and garnered 5-star reviews from Harmonie Magazine [CZ] and Aachener Zeitung [DE]. In November 2014 the album was nominated by the International Classical Music Awards for "Album of the Year". Forbes mentioned it in its 2014 list of Top 10 New Classical Releases.
Part 2 of the Feldman Trilogy was an unconventional art book/CD/DVD, published by the Geneva University of Art & Design . Part 3 – Ilić's recording of "For Bunita Marcus"  – was universally celebrated, with glowing reviews in The Independent [UK], The Washington Post [US], Diapason [FR], Fono Forum [DE], Gramophone [UK], BBC Music Magazine [UK], Classica [FR], BBC Radio 3 Record Review [UK], Piano News [DE], The Sunday Times [UK] and other publications.
Ivan Ilić has written about music for the websites of Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, Music & Literature and Limelight. He has also co-produced several 5-hour radio series for Swiss Radio RTS Espace 2. For 2019-2021 he was appointed Ulster University’s International Musician in Residence. In 2019 he will present a 10-part series about piano repertoire for Swiss Radio. Most recently, he began a collaboration with Japanese piano manufacturer Kawai to promote its luxurious Shigeru Kawai line of concert instruments.
Follow Ivan Ilić on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Apple Music, and Spotify
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