Skip to main content

Michel Dalberto

Michel Dalberto


Born: June 2, 1955 – Paris, France

The French pianist, Michel (Jean Jacques) Dalberto, was born into non-musical family, but he began playing the piano before his 4th birthday. At age 12 he was studying with Vlado Perlemuter (piano) Jean Hubeau (chamber music) at the Paris Conservatoire. He later studied with Raymond Trourard. In 1975 he won the Clara Haskil Competition and the Salzburg Mozart Competition, and in 1978 he captured the 1st prize at the Leeds Competition, where he played a W.A. Mozart’s Piano Concerto (No. 25 K. 503) in the final round, the only first-prize winner ever to do so.

Michel Dalberto made his formal debut as soloist with Erich Leinsdorf and the Orchestre de Paris in 1980, but had already made his debut in London, Amsterdam, Vienna… He soon debuted in other major European cities, including Frankfurt and Rome, as well as in Montreal. His first recording on the Erato label of Schubert’s Piano Sonatas D. 840 and D. 850 won the Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros in 1980. The following recordings: L.v. Beethoven’s first seven Piano Sonatas (1980), W.A. Mozart’s Concertos (1981), and Chausson songs with Jessye Norman (1983), appeared to generally favourable critical response.

Michel Dalberto pursued a global career as a soloist with orchestras, recitalist and chamber music player. From 1988 to 1995 he recorded all the piano music of Schubert, the only one to have taken on this challenge and remains the only one still today. This 14-CD set for the Denon label is perhaps his greatest accomplishment to date. From 1991 to 2009, he served as chairman of the jury at the Clara Haskil Competition in Vevey, Switzerland. He is now a member of the organization committee. He signed a contract with BMG in 1997 and his first recording for the label, Debussy’s Images and Preludes (Book I) – released on RCA, achieved wide critical acclaim. For BMG/RCA he also recorded W.A. Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 20 & 22 with John Nelson and “A piano at the Opera”, a selection of Paraphrases by Franz Liszt on operas by Verdi and Wagner (2004). In the 21st century he remained busy on the concert and recording scenes. His 2005-2006 concert schedule was brimming with engagements throughout Italy, France, England, Russia, and the USA, including many appearances with major orchestras.

Michel Dalberto has rightly achieved a reputation as one of the leading French pianists of his generation, despite a reserved style and penchant for less flashy repertoire. In fact, he is known for his W.A. Mozart and Schubert, and while he plays Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Debussy, Ravel, and other composers associated with more challenging works, he has generally avoided the virtuosic side of their music. He has also appeared in concert and on recordings as accompanist to singers like Jessye Norman and Barbara Hendricks, and as a collaborator in various chamber works, especially for violin and piano. The late pianist Nikita Magaloff was a close friend and they performed together some concerts on 2-piano and 4-hand.

Michel Dalberto has made numerous recordings for a variety of major labels over the years, including Denon, EMI, BMG/RCA, Harmonia Mundi, and Erato. Recent recordings have included the complete chamber music with piano by Gabriel Fauré (with Renaud Capuçon, Ebene Quartet etc..), Schubert’s Winterreise with Stephan Genz, a program of works by Scriabin and F. Liszt recorded live. He is currently embarking on a project of four recordings for the Aparté label dedicated to Debussy, G. Fauré, César Franck and Ravel which will be recorded live in different concert-halls and on different pianos. The first one to be released at the end of October 2015 will feature Debussy’s Preludes & Images (Book 2) & Children’s Corner recorded last May at Teatro Bibiena in Mantua.

Michel Dalberto was appointed Professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 2011.