Krystian Zimerman was born into a musical family in Zabrze, in southern Poland, in 1956 and was introduced to chamber music-making as an infant by the many musicians who visited his home. He received his first piano lessons at the age of five from his pianist father and studied both privately and at the Katowice Conservatory with Andrzej Jasiński. His breakthrough came in 1975 when he won the International Fryderyk Chopin Competition in Warsaw. The 18-year-old emerged as the prestigious competition's youngest ever winner, and a year later he was invited to work with Arthur Rubinstein in Paris, also coming into contact with other great pianists including Claudio Arrau, Emil Gilels, Sviatoslav Richter and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.
Zimerman went on to collaborate with many of the world's leading musicians, performing chamber music in partnerships with Gidon Kremer, Kyung-Wha Chung and Yehudi Menuhin, and with conductors including Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Herbert von Karajan, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, André Previn, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle and Stanisław Skrowaczewski.
His interpretations of everything from Beethoven and Chopin to Schubert and Szymanowski reveal infinite expressive subtleties and the underlying clarity of his storytelling through music. Zimerman’s place among today's greatest artists rests not least on the freshness and originality of his performances, always intensely personal and prepared in meticulous detail. He may study a work for decades, exploring every facet and contemplating its meaning before introducing it to his recital repertoire or taking it into the studio. His approach belongs to a dynamic process of creative evolution, one in which self-criticism, deep reflection, and intuition play significant parts. Krystian Zimerman’s artistry is inextricably linked to his knowledge of the mechanics and structure of his instrument. He developed practical skills as a piano builder and keyboard technician during his formative years and has refined them since in close cooperation with Steinway & Sons in Hamburg.