Maria João Pires', who was born in Lisbon in 1944, gave her first public performance when she was just four years old and at the age of nine, she had received the highest distinction with which Portugal honors its young maturing artists. Her music education at Lisbon's Conservatory was followed by further studies at the Music Academies of Munich and Hannover.
By winning first prize at the Brussels Competition in 1970, held in commemoration of Beethoven's 200th birthday, Maria João Pires achieved the acclaim that triggered her international career.
Since then, she has regularly toured throughout Europe, Japan, Canada and the USA, and repeatedly appears as guest artist at the world's most prestigious music festivals. Her preferred repertoire lies in the sphere of chamber music. She performs primarily with the French violinist Auguste Dumay, with whom, following the chamber music festival in Baule, she has since frequently appeared in France, although also in Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Japan. She has also found an equal partner for her performances, in the Chinese cellist Jian Wang.
In order to strengthen creative young artists for this challenge in an increasingly difficult context, she is facilitating a center for them on her ranch in Portugal: a kind of free school where people come together from all over to solve problems that have to do with their lives, with music, with art.
By Peter Berger, January 2001
Translated by Simon D. Sanders for artists-e.com, February 2001