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“These were absolutely stunning performances [by Mr. Golka]—luminous, probing, deeply personal and drawn with unerring emotional accuracy.”—The Washington Post

One of the foremost pianists of our time, Sir András Schiff has chosen three young, accomplished pianists to present a new generation of great musicians in a new series in New York and Berlin. Be among the first to experience the next wave of brilliant players and their unique interpretations.

Born and raised in Texas to a family of Polish musicians, Adam Golka received the 2008 Gilmore Young Artist Award and took first prize in the 2003 China Shanghai International Piano Competition. He has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Caramoor, Mostly Mozart and Bargemusic and leading orchestras throughout the US. He studied with Leon Fleisher, and continues his work in master classes with Sir András Schiff, Richard Goode and Mitsuko Uchida.

About his program, Adam Golka says, “I have always wanted to hear these works juxtaposed, not only because of their glaring historical connection, but also because of the shared spirit of fearlessness behind these two works.” Read his full commentary on the Program Notes tab.

Adam Golka, piano New York Recital Debut

BRAHMS: Sonata in C major, Op. 1
BEETHOVEN: Sonata in B-flat major, Op. 106, “Hammerklavier”

This concert is approximately 75 minutes long, with no intermission.


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  92Y Concerts at SubCulture is a co-presentation of 92Y and SubCulture.

This concert takes place in SubCulture, 45 Bleecker St.

BRAHMS Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 1

Sir András Schiff Selects: Young Pianists

One of the foremost pianists of our time, Sir András Schiff has created a series that presents three young accomplished pianists to audiences in New York and Berlin, representing a new generation of great musicians. Tonight’s recital with Adam Golka concludes the series; it began on February 13 with Kuok-Wai Lio and continued on March 2 with Roman Rabinovich.

Explore the Music

(Click the names below to expand info.)

Artist’s Note

by Adam Golka

In the opening of his Op. 1, Brahms pays tribute to Beethoven’s towering “Hammerklavier” Sonata; the identical rhythmic motto in their respective opening announcements cannot be a coincidence. In both cases, ecstatic opening chords herald the beginning of larger-thanlife adventures—adventures which demand an insistently symphonic use of the instrument and mercilessly awkward, acrobatic use of the performer’s hands. I have always wanted to hear these works juxtaposed, not only because of their glaring historical connection, but also because of the shared spirit of fearlessness behind these two works.

The Brahms Sonata, completed at the tender age of 20 in 1853, is characterized by its youthful heroism, evocative harmonies and relentless rhythmic energy. Listening, one can feel the passions, longings and triumphs of knights and maidens from medieval folk tales; I cannot help but to think of Brahms’s setting of Tieck’s Magelone, composed one decade later. The Sonata’s Andante is strongly tied to German folk traditions with its touching variations on the folk song “Verstohlen Geht der Mond Auf”—“Furtively the Moon Goes On.” In the variation form, Brahms follows the mysterious, abstract verses of this enchanting song, which he revisited once again as the last piece in his late arrangements of 49 German folk songs in 1894.

The irresistible and unrestrained emotional abandonment of Brahms’s early piano music is clearly linked to the music of his teacher, Robert Schumann. Brahms signed his Op. 1 manuscript with the pseudonym “Johannes Kreisler, Junior”—referring to Schumann’s Kreisleriana. Kreisler, a fictional creation of E.T.A. Hoffman, is an emotionally fragile composer who is constantly overwhelmed by his poetic sensitivities and powerful imagination. If Brahms is “Junior,” then the “Senior” Kreisler was obviously Schumann. It is incredible to imagine the young Brahms playing this for Robert and Clara Schumann upon first arriving at their home.

Beethoven famously bragged that his “Hammerklavier” Sonata of 1817–1818 would keep pianists busy for 50 years. It has been nearly 200 years, and I, for one, am still struggling. Though its physical obstacles are legendary, the peak of the challenges in this work is by no means technical. For example, finding an appropriate sense of breath and scope in the 20-minute Adagio sostenuto is one of the most elusive interpretive challenges I have ever encountered. This is the mature Beethoven in his most sprawling and vulnerable mood, and the emotional journey is not only comprehensive, but downright exhausting. To me, this movement illustrates alternating stages of grief: brooding sadness, unbounded pathos, and momentary hopes of redemption, fulfilled finally through the fugue in the following movement.

I never cease to be amazed by the extraordinary, written-out improvisation which introduces the “Fugue in 3 voices, with Some License;” one has the impression that Beethoven is touching other worlds. The Largo introduction features three short-lived, canonic attempts, in which Beethoven deliberately imitates Bach and gives the sense of a progression from that old master’s sense of counterpoint to Beethoven’s own new, poetic vision of fugue.

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Artist Bio

Adam Golka, piano

Born and raised in Texas to a family of musicians from Poland, pianist Adam Golka has won widespread critical and popular acclaim. With an extensive concerto repertoire, fully embracing Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Bartok, Ravel, Rachmaninoff and others, Mr. Golka has appeared with such orchestras as the Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Indianapolis, New Jersey, San Diego and Fort Worth symphonies. Internationally, he has appeared with the BBC Scottish Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Sinfonia Varsovia and the Shanghai and Warsaw philharmonics, among others.

Tonight’s concert marks Mr. Golka’s New York City solo recital debut. He has also given recitals in Paris, Amsterdam and Tokyo, and at Poland’s Wrocław Festival and Chopin Festival of Duszniki-Zdroj. His 2014/15 engagements include weeks with the Vancouver, San Diego, Seattle, Brevard, California and Richmond symphonies. This season Mr. Golka presents an educational residency plus a Chopin recital at the Cliburn Festival, and he serves as artist-in-residence at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Mr. Golka has performed in the music festivals of Caramoor, Colorado, Grand Teton, Mostly Mozart, Music@Menlo, Newport and Ravinia, and the New York City International Keyboard Festival at Mannes College The New School for Music. He regularly spends summers at Marlboro and frequently participates in seminars at Prussia Cove. There he became associated with Sir Andras Schiff, who invited him to participate in this series, which Mr. Golka repeats this season in Zurich and Berlin, and at the Ruhr Festival.

After first studying with his mother, pianist Anna Golka, Mr. Golka studied with Jose Feghali at Texas Christian University and received an Artist’s Diploma from the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, where he worked with the legendary Leon Fleisher. He is a winner of the Gilmore Young Artist’s Award and the Max I. Allen Classical Fellowship Award of the American Pianists Association. His website is

Photo: Juergen Frank

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