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Menahem Pressler awarded France's highest cultural honor

Pressler, Menahem - 1
Menahem Pressler
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Menahem Pressler, a distinguished professor in the Indiana University School of Music, has been named a commander in France's Order of Arts and Letters by French Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres. The title is France's highest cultural honor.

"This is very unexpected. It is the greatest cultural honor that France gives to a foreigner," said the legendary pianist and founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. "This honors not only me, but also my school."

The Order of Arts and Letters was established in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, and people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.

Born in Magdeburg, Germany, Pressler emigrated to Israel in 1938. He began his association with the IU School of Music in 1955. That same year, he co-founded the Beaux Arts Trio, which has become one of the world's most enduring and widely acclaimed chamber music ensembles. The trio performs more than 100 concerts and master classes each year in the world's major music centers and has made over 50 recordings. Additionally, Pressler has compiled over 30 solo recordings.

The Beaux Arts Trio will celebrate its golden anniversary with performances at the Tanglewood Music Center, where the trio made its debut, and three concerts (June 30, July 2, July 9) in Bloomington during the School of Music's annual Summer Music Festival. The concert series will include a rendition on June 30 of Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the Festival Orchestra under the direction of Grammy Award-winning conductor Jaime Laredo.

Pressler has been honored with Chamber Music America's Distinguished Service Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Gramophone magazine, the Gold Medal of Merit from the National Society of Arts and Letters, and the German Critics "Ehrenurkunde" award. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.