Dutch-born Christiaan Kuyvenhoven is hailed as one of the most highly acclaimed pianists in the world, with an equally successful career in acting and presenting. Having won numerous prizes on international piano competitions, and worked with conductors such as Jaap van Zweden, Otto Tausk and Jean-Bernhard Pommier, Kuyvenhoven’s performances are much sought after. He has played countless of concerts and recitals in many countries including at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in China, Hôtel des Invalides in France and debut in his country at Great Hall of the Concertgebouw. Thus it was only natural that his visit to Jakarta in early December to perform at Erasmus Huis was highly anticipated.
Kuyvenhoven first began to learn the piano at the age of seven and when he was ten years old, he began to learn from the renowned Russian pianist Michail Markov. Markov encouraged the highly gifted young pianist to start performing in concerts as well as participating in competitions and summer schools. The young Kuyvenhoven then realized that he could enjoy success, if he would continue to work hard.
“(On piano) the technique is hard to master. It can be frustrating when you realize that you can’t express what you want because you may not have built the needed technique. A good teacher will give you pieces that are hard, but possible. In this way you grow, and it’s very satisfying when you realize that you’ve gained more ability. Nevertheless, it can only come with a lot of studying!” said Kuyvenhoven, reminiscing his early years.
His hard work finally paid off as he won the third prize at the prestigious International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in 2005 in Utrecht. As the first Dutch pianist to win the prize in 16 years, the success proved to be a great boost to his personal development and career as a professional pianist, as well as great motivation for his burgeoning career as a presenter and actor.
As the world would soon find out, the talented pianist is also a natural born storyteller. The prove of his pure ingenuity can be seen in his performance entitled Cosima (2013), in which he combined classical music with a theatrical monologue — a brilliant work that awarded him the Wagner Stipendium Prize from Richard-Wagner-Stipendienstiftung and the Wagner Society of the Netherlands in the following year. Cosima tells the story of an illegitimate daughter of the 19th century Hungarian piano virtuoso Franz Liszt named Francesca Gaetana Cosima Liszt, who later became the second wife of the German composer Richard Wagner.
“I read her [Cosima’s] biography and was amazed by the story of her life. I wanted to tell that story to people, since it was about a strong woman that had to find her own way to happiness. Yet, she had to deal with those two men who weren’t always as nice as their music. We can celebrate the music of the composers, but when you know the story behind the music, it makes it more personal and better to understand. It took a long time to produce a piece like Cosima. I wrote the script myself and worked intensely with my director to interpret it and combine it with the music. It was a very fascinating process that demanded all my talents, passion and imagination,” said Kuyvenhoven.
Tuning up for a brighter future, Kuyvenhoven now invites his fans to join in his journey.