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Menahem Pressler receives Yehudi Menuhin Prize from Queen Sophia of Spain

July 19, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana University Distinguished Professor Menahem Pressler, world-renowned pianist and faculty member at the Jacobs School of Music, received the Yehudi Menuhin Prize for the Integration of Arts and Education from Queen Sofia of Spain during a June 12 ceremony at the Palacio Real de El Pardo in Madrid.

Distinguished Professor Menahem Pressler accepts the Yehudi Menuhin Prize from Queen Sofia of Spain (left).
Print-Quality Photo

During the ceremony, music journalist Luis Suñén said, "Menahem Pressler is a genius, an exceptionally talented performer and a generous teacher … [who] exemplifies a love of music and, above all, a love of life … That will, coupled with his genius, is what makes this great musician something even more important--an exceptional human being."

The Reina Sofia School of Music's top award and one of Spain's highest honors, the prize is presented to exemplary musicians who also dedicate much of their time to educating youth.

Pressler was selected from more than 40 nominees to be the 2012--and ninth--recipient. Previous awardees are Zubin Mehta (2010), José Antonio Abreu (2008), Claudio Abbado (2006), Alicia de Larrocha (2004), Sir Colin Davis (2002), Carlo Maria Giulini (2001), Piero Farulli (2000) and Alfredo Kraus (1999).

Pressler was also recently honored--as part of the Beaux Arts Trio--by Gramophone magazine in its May 2012 feature, "Hall of Fame: 50 People Who Changed Classical Music." He was the co-founder and only pianist of the venerable piano trio for nearly 55 years.

His upcoming concert highlights include several performances of Schubert's song cycle "Winterreise" with tenor Christoph Prégardien, beginning July 30 at Switzerland's Verbier Festival. This will be the first time the revered pianist has performed the piece.

"I have loved it all my life," said Pressler. "To do it, especially at this point in my life and with a singer whose recording is stunning, is thrilling. His record accompanies me every single day. I do many other things, but this is the center of my summer life."

The pair will also perform the work on Dec. 15 in Detroit, Mich., and on Dec. 16--Pressler's 89th birthday--in Bloomington, Ind. Their 2013 performances include at the Cité de la Musique in Paris.


In addition to his hometown of Bloomington, Pressler's summer 2012 performance and teaching schedule includes stops in Milwaukee, Ravinia, Vermont, Ottawa, England, Germany and France.

View a photo gallery about Pressler's receipt of the Menuhin Prize >

Pressler will be interviewed by the BBC's Norman Lebrecht on Monday, July 23, at 5pm ET at The interview can also be downloaded as a podcast.

About Menahem Pressler

Menahem Pressler has established himself among the world's most distinguished and honored musicians, with a career that spans over six decades. He continues to perform throughout the world both as a piano soloist and collaborating chamber musician, including performances with the Juilliard, Emerson, American and Cleveland Quartets, all while maintaining his teaching career.

Born in Magdeburg, Germany, in 1923, Pressler fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and immigrated to Israel. His career was launched after he was awarded first prize at the Debussy International Piano Competition in San Francisco in 1946. That was followed by his successful American debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Eugene Ormandy. Since then, Pressler's tours have included performances with the orchestras of New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Francisco, London, Paris, Brussels, Oslo, Helsinki and many others.

Pressler joined the piano faculty at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 1955, and he currently holds the rank of Distinguished Professor of Music as the Charles Webb Chair.

His former students grace the faculties of schools of music across the world and have become some of the most prominent and influential artists and teachers today. In addition to teaching his private students at Jacobs, he presents master classes around the globe and continues to serve on the jury of many international piano competitions. He is also advisor of the Piano Groups Department at the International Institute of Chamber Music in Madrid. The institute is a chamber music post-grade center with academic direction from the Reina Sofía School of Music.

Among his honors and awards—in addition to the Yehudi Menuhin Prize--Pressler has received six Grammy nominations, a lifetime achievement award from Gramophone magazine and election into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2007, Pressler was appointed as an honorary fellow of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in recognition of a lifetime of performance and leadership in music. In 2005, he received two additional awards of international merit: the German President's Deutsche Bundesverdienstkreuz (German Cross of Merit) First Class, Germany's highest honor, and France's highest cultural honor, the Commandeur in the Order of Arts and Letters award.

In addition to recording nearly the entire piano chamber repertoire with the Beaux Arts Trio on the Philips label, Pressler has compiled over 30 solo recordings, ranging from the works of Bach to Ben Haim.

For more information about Pressler, including an extended biography, visit

For more information about the IU Jacobs School of Music, visit