Born in Brazil, Nelson Freire began piano studies at the age of three with Nise Obino and Lucia Branco, who had worked with a pupil of Liszt. He made his first public appearance at the age of five with Mozart Sonata in A K.331. In 1957, after winning the Rio de Janeiro International Piano Competition with his performance of Beethoven's “Emperor” concerto, he went to Vienna to study with Bruno Seidlhofer, teacher of Friedrich Gulda. Seven years later he won the Dinu Lipatti Medal in London and the first prize at the International Vianna da Motta Competition in Lisbon.
He is invited by prestigious orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Bayerische Rundfunk, Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, Vienna Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, London Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Radio France Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, as well as American Orchestras of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia… He has collaborated with distinguished conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Riccardo Chailly, Charles Dutoit, Valery Gergiev, Eugene Jochum, Fabio Luisi, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Rudolf Kempe (tours in the United States and Germany with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), Vaclav Neumann, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, David Zinman, Hugh Wolff…
He plays recitals in the most prestigious venues and series in Amsterdam, Brussels, Geneva, Paris, Roma, Madrid, Munich, Lisboa, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Zurich. With Martha Argerich, he toured Japan in 2003, Brazil and Argentina in 2004 and USA in 2005 (New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Québec).
In 2005/06 he had a great success at the BBC Proms in London and played with the Tokyo NHK in Japan, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly in Leipzig and on the European tour, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Danish Radio Orchestra, Orchestre National de France and Kurt Masur, as well as recitals in Paris, Madrid, Gstaad, Geneva and with Martha Argerich in Toulouse and Essen (Klavierfestival Ruhr). In 2006/07, he is with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana under Alain Lombard, BBC Symphony under Manfred Honeck, Orchestre National de France under Kurt Masur in Amsterdam, Sao Paolo Orchestra in Brazil and on the tour in Europe (Austria, Germany, France, Portugal and Spain). He is playing recitals in Rio, Sao Paulo, London, Paris, Ferrara, Rotterdam, Amsterdam (with Martha Argerich), Vienna, New York… Future projects include the Salzburg Festival with Ingo Metzmacher, European tour with the London Philharmonic under Kurt Masur, USA tour with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic under Yuri Temirkanov, BBC Scottish Symphony under Ilan Volkov, Orchestre de Paris under Jiri Belohlavek, Beethoven cycle with the Orchestre National de France under Kurt Masur, Lyon Orchestra under Jun Märkl in France, Germany and Spain, Barcelona Symphony under Leopold Hager.
Nelson Freire has recorded for Sony/CBS, Teldec, DGG, IPAM, and London labels. Philips released his most coveted performances on their acclaimed series, Great Pianists of the 20th Century and his recording of Chopin’s 24 Préludes on CBS received the “Prix Edison”. As an exclusive DECCA Artists, his recent recordings of Chopin, Schumann and Brahms Concertos 1 and 2 with the Gewandhaus zu Leipzig under Riccardo Chailly received the most prestigious prizes : Diapason d’Or, Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros, Choc du Monde de la Musique, 10 by Repertoire, Classica. To be released :. Beethoven Sonatas. The portrait “Nelson FREIRE” is available on Video Film (Brazil).
Nelson Freire was nominated “Soloist of the Year 2002” by French Victoires de la Musique and received in January 2005 a special “Honours Award” for his career. In 2006 his Chopin recording is nominated for the best solo recording by Grammy Awards.