Louis Lortie | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Louis Lortie

Louis Lortie. Pianist, b Montreal 27 Apr 1959. Lortie began to study piano at seven, working successively with Nicole Pontbriand-Beaudoin, and Sister Simone Martin at the École de musique Wilfrid-Pelletier and Yvonne Hubert at the École normale de musique.

Louis Lortie. Pianist, b Montreal 27 Apr 1959. Lortie began to study piano at seven, working successively with Nicole Pontbriand-Beaudoin, and Sister Simone Martin at the École de musique Wilfrid-Pelletier and Yvonne Hubert at the École normale de musique. He gained recognition at the Canadian Music Competitions for five successive years (1968-72), at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Concours in 1972, and in the Czechoslovakian radio's Concertino Praga in 1973 and 1975. After winning the 1975 CBC Talent Festival and International Stepping Stones of the Canadian Music Competitions the same year, he gave numerous recitals and played on the CBC. He then pursued his studies with Dieter Weber in Vienna 1975-6, Menahem Pressler at Indiana University and with Marc Durand. In 1978 Andrew Davis chose him to be one of the soloists (the other being Maureen Forrester) for the Toronto Symphony tour in Japan and China. He made his debut at Massey Hall with this orchestra in Liszt's Concerto No. 1 and played it again with great success in Tokyo, Peking, Shanghai, and Canton. On his return he performed the same work with the Montreal Symphony; Eric McLean described him as 'unquestionably one of the most gifted pianists this country has produced in recent years' and continued, 'This kind of facility, with this kind of temperament is what great artists are made of' (Montreal Star, 3 Apr 1978).

Lortie made a tour in 1983 with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1984 he won the first prize at the Busoni International Piano Competition and the fourth at the Leeds International Competition. He has made numerous tours in Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Holland. In 1985, he made his recital debut in Washington, DC, and his London debut with the London Symphony Orchestra and received glowing reviews from the critics. To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Ravel, he presented the composer's complete works for piano in two recitals in 1987. These works were recorded under the Chandos label.

Lortie received the Virginia P. Moore prize awarded by the Canada Council in 1984 and the Grand prix of the Conseil des arts de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal in 1986. The Canadian Music Council named him 'Performer of the Year' in 1987. In 1990 he received the Juno Award for best classical album, 20th Century Original Piano Transcriptions, and in 1991 he won the Dutch Edison award for his recording of a number of Beethoven variations. Other Juno awards followed for Liszt's Années De Pélerinage in 1992; for Beethoven Piano Sonatas in 1993, and again in 1994 for Beethoven Piano Sonatas Opus 10, No. 1-3. He was nominated for a Juno award in 2010 for his recording of Mendelssohn's Piano Concertos 1 and 2 with the Orchestre symphonique de Québec (2009. ATMA Classique ACD22617). Lortie also collaborated with pianist Hélène Mercier in works by Mozart (for two pianos) and Ravel (for four hands) on the Chandos label.

With his growing interest in chamber music, Lortie founded and performed with the Lortie-Berick-Lysy Trio with cellist Antonio Lysy and violinist Yehonatan Berick, 1995-8. He also participated in several renowned festivals, such as the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood, the Chicago Symphony's Ravinia, Mostly Mozart in New York, festivals in Brescia and Bergamo, Italy, Roque d'Anthéron in France, Henley in the UK, and Bad Kissingen in Germany. He appears regularly with the Montreal Symphony at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, and at the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival. For the Montreal Symphony's Beethoven Festival, Lortie appeared as pianist and conductor in the five piano concertos, and with Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth in the Triple Concerto. In addition, he played the cycle of 32 piano sonatas, and the complete works for piano and violin with James Ehnes, violinist. He appeared twice at the London Prom Concerts, performing the 1st Concerto by Prokofiev in 2001 and the Concerto for Left Hand by Ravel the following year. He played Ravel's complete works for piano for the BBC in London and for the CBC in Montreal. He recorded, as well, Franck's Symphonic Variations with the BBC Philharmonic and conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier in 2000, and all Liszt's works for piano and orchestra with the Resident Orchestra of the Hague and conductor George Pehlivanian in 2002. He also recorded Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin with Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony for the Decca-London label.

That same year, with the Montreal Symphony, he played all the Mozart piano concertos. Lortie met with tremendous success in 2003 with his complete Chopin Études when he was invited to Carnegie Hall. Among his 30 or so recordings, ranging from Mozart to Stravinsky, the one dedicated to the Chopin Études figures among the 50 best recordings by first-rate pianists, according to the BBC's Music Magazine. In addition to the conductors already mentioned, Lortie's career has led him to work with Alsop, Ashkenazy, Davis, Elder, Flor, Fruhbeck de Burgos, Graf, Jaervi, Pesek, Sanderling, Saraste, Sawallisch, Schoenwandt, Slatkin, Vänskä, Wigglesworth and Welser-Möst.

When not on tour, Louis Lortie occasionally teaches at the International Piano Academy in Imola, Italy. Louis Lortie was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1992, and an officer in 1995.


Beethoven Six Variations, Opus 34; Variations Eroica, Opus 35; Für Elise; et al. 1990. Chandos CHAN-8616 (CD).

Chopin The Complete Etudes. 1986. Chandos ARBD-1194/Chandos CHAN-8482 (CD).

Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue. MSO, Dutoit conductor. 1988; Lon 425-111-2 (CD).

Liszt Sonate in B Minor; Three Concert Etudes. 1986. Chandos ARBD-1223/Chandos CHAN-8548 (CD).

- Années de pélerinage : Italie. 1991. Chandos CHAN-8900 (CD).

Mathieu Trois Préludes. 1988; 4-ACM 32.

Mozart Concertos Nos. 12 and 14. I Musici de Montreal, Turovsky conductor. 1985. Chandos ARBD-1166/Chandos CHAN-8455 (CD)/RCI 630.

Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand; Concerto in G - Fauré Ballade, Opus 19. London SO, Frühbeck de Burgos conductor. 1989. Chandos ARBD-1411/Chandos CHAN-8773 (CD).

- Gaspard de la nuit; Sonatina; La Valse. 1984. CBC Musica Viva MV-1010/RCI 593.

- Music for Four Hands. H. Mercier piano. 1990. Chandos CHAN-8905 (CD).

- Ondine; Le Jardin féérique. 1984. Nuova Era 6720-DM (CD).

- Piano Music, vol 1. 1988. Chandos ARBD-1311/Chandos CHAN-8620 (CD).

- Piano Music, vol 2. 1989. Chandos ARBD-1333/Chandos CHAN-8647 (CD).

20th Century Original Piano Transcriptions: Stravinsky - Ravel - Prokofiev - Gershwin. 1988. Chandos ARBD-1373/Chandos CHAN-8733 (CD).


Traynor, Dave. 'Local pianist to tour China,' Montreal Star, 16 Jan 1978

Potvin, Gilles. 'Le pianiste Louis Lortie, une jeune carrière qui a démarré en Chine,' Montreal Le Devoir, 4 Mar 1978

Thompson, Leslie. 'Short on ambition, endowed with talent,' Music, Oct 1978

Petrovski (sic), Nathalie. 'Le gang des pianos à queue,' L'Actualité, Apr 1979

Robert, Véronique. 'Allegro,' L'Actualité, Sep 1986

Pinard, Guy. 'La personnalité de la semaine,' Montreal La Presse, 8 Mar 1987

Gingras, Claude. 'L'intégrale Ravel de Louis Lortie,' ibid, 29 Mar 1987

Bergeron, Carol. 'Louis Lortie: un grand interprète est celui qui crée un climat sonore,' Montreal Le Devoir, 20 Jun 1987

Kaptainis, Arthur. 'Louis Lortie: piano virtuoso spreads his wings,' Montreal Gazette, 4 Jul 1987

Lafuste, France. 'Juste dans la note,' Montreal Le Devoir, 24 Sep 1988

Gingras, Claude. 'Louis Lortie: retour à Chopin,' Montreal, La Presse, 6 May 1989

'Conversation with Louis Lortie,' interview with Leslie Gerber, Fanfare, vol 14, Jan-Feb 1991

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