Associate Professor Gerardus Willems

Associate Professor in Piano

Gerard Willems is one of Australia’s finest concert pianists and leading Beethoven scholars. He is the first Australian and Dutch pianist to record the complete Beethoven Sonata cycle on CD.  These recordings have been awarded the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Award) in 1999 for Volume 1 and again in 2000 for the complete set as the ‘Best Classical Album of the Year’. In 2012 he was awarded an AM award for his services to the arts as a concert pianist , educator and mentor to young musicians.

In 2003 he recorded the Beethoven Complete Piano Concertos with Sinfonia Australis under Antony Walker for ABC Classics.  This recording was nominated for the ARIA Award. Other recordings include  Mozart  miniatures, Tchaikovsky “The Seasons’ and Beethoven “Diabelli [...]

Gerard Willems is one of Australia’s finest concert pianists and leading Beethoven scholars. He is the first Australian and Dutch pianist to record the complete Beethoven Sonata cycle on CD.  These recordings have been awarded the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Award) in 1999 for Volume 1 and again in 2000 for the complete set as the ‘Best Classical Album of the Year’. In 2012 he was awarded an AM award for his services to the arts as a concert pianist , educator and mentor to young musicians.

In 2003 he recorded the Beethoven Complete Piano Concertos with Sinfonia Australis under Antony Walker for ABC Classics.  This recording was nominated for the ARIA Award. Other recordings include  Mozart  miniatures, Tchaikovsky “The Seasons’ and Beethoven “Diabelli Vatiations’ (2010). In  2013 the Beethoven-Willems Collection has been launched, the culmination of fifteen years reseach and performance. This collection consists of fourteen CD’s and one DVD of the “Emperor” Concerto. In 2015 his double CD edition  of Grieg, “Morning Mood” was launched at the Sydney Opera House

As a child in Tilburg, Holland, he toured Europe as a chorister and was awarded a professional scholarship for piano from the Brabant’s Conservatorium.  With his family, Gerard migrated to Australia in 1958 where he entered the Sydney Conservatorium and graduated with High Distinction, studying with Gordon Watson.  After winning many prizes at national competitions including the Queen Victoria Piano Competition Prize, he pursued advanced keyboard studies with Greville Rothon, Claudio Arrau’s assistant in Munich.

He settled in Amsterdam for several years where he made his debut in London in 1974, in Munich in 1977 and in Amsterdam in 1978 and returned to live in Sydney in 1981.  Subsequently he has toured extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand and in December 2000 completed a tour of Israel with the Israel Camerata, playing Beethoven Concerto No.4, in Rehovot, Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv.

In 1981 he joined the staff of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he was Chair of Keyboard and is now  Professor in Piano  He has performed with all the major orchestras, toured for the ABC nationally and for Musica Viva.  He has appeared at the Sydney and Adelaide festivals, with ensembles such as the Australia Ensemble and Acacia Quartet.

In 1982 he recorded Liszt’s Concerto in E flat with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on the occasion of the anniversary of the Sydney Conservatorium.  His concerto repertoire ranges from the classical works of Mozart and Beethoven through to 20th century works such as Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety” and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”.  He has worked with such conductors as Sir Bernard Heinze, Nicholas Braithwaite, Douglas Gamley, John Lanchbery, Avner Biron and Patrick Thomas.

He established his own piano trio, “Mozartrois”, with whom he has recorded the complete Piano Trios of Mozart for CD in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House in 1991 for the Tall Poppies label to commemorate the bicentennial of Mozart’s death.  He has recorded for Dutch, French, Israeli and Australian radio and has recorded for various labels such as BMG, WEA and Philips.

Gerard has also appeared with singers such as Luciano Pavarotti, Laures Elms, Ron Stevens, Jennifer McGregor, Beverly Bergen, the cellists Julian Lloyd Webber and John Kennedy, violinists Karen Adam and Ronald Thomas and violist Esther van Stralen. He has also been concerto soloist for ballet stars, such as Rudolph Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn, Mikhail Barishnikov , Natalia Makarova and the Panovs performing Tchaikovsky’s second Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff ‘Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini’.

In 2001, as the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Music Scholar, awarded by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, he researched Early Music training throughout the USA and Europe.  In 2003 he was awarded a Centenary Medal for Services to Music.

In 2004, he appeared at the Adelaide Festival in recitals of Beethoven Sonata’s and works by Andrew Ford and Mary Finsterer.  In 2005 his DVD of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto won the World Music DVD prize in New York.

In 2008 he was guest professor in piano at the Freiburg Hochschule  and performed in Germany and Norway. He was invited to tour Norway in 2010 and  continues to give masterclasses throughout the world. In 2012 he was artist in residence at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore. In 2013 he is again invited to tour Norway and in 2015 he was invited on the adjudication panel for final exams at the Schola Cantorum in Paris

In 2013, Gerard collaborated with Russian violinist Evgeny Sorkin in two cycles of the complete Piano and Violin Sonatas by Beethoven to great acclaim.

In 2012 he was appointed as Artistic Director of the Southern Highlands International Piano Competition.

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Full academic profile


Areas of Study

Piano

Phone

612-935-11217

Location

C41 - Sydney Conservatorium of Music