Janina Fialkowska


At a glance

Janina Fialkowska


Indeed, lesser mortals may well weep with envy at such unfaltering authority. She has done her one time mentor, Arthur Rubinstein, proud.


Beloved the world over for her exquisite pianism, Janina Fialkowska has enchanted audiences for over thirty years with her glorious lyrical sound and her profound sense of musical integrity.

Biography —

For 50 years, concert pianist Janina Fialkowska has enchanted audiences and critics around the world. She has been praised for her musical integrity, her refreshing natural approach and her unique piano sound thus becoming “one of the Grandes Dames of piano playing” (Frankfurter Allgemeine).

Born in Canada, she began her piano studies with her mother at age 4 continuing on in her native Montreal with Yvonne Hubert. In Paris she studied with Yvonne Lefébure and in New York at the Juilliard School with Sascha Gorodnitzki, experiencing the best of both French and Russian piano traditions. Her career was launched in 1974, when the legendary Arthur Rubinstein became her mentor after her prize-winning performance at his inaugural Master Piano Competition, calling her a “born Chopin interpreter” laying the foundation for her lifelong identification with this composer.

Since then she has performed with the foremost orchestras worldwide under the baton of such conductors as Zubin Mehta, Bernard Haitink, Lorin Maazel, Sir Georg Solti, Sir Roger Norrington and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, to name one of the younger generation. She has won special recognition for a series of important premieres, notably Liszt’s newly discovered Third Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony and several contemporary piano concertos. Ms Fialkowska’s discography includes many award-winning discs, e.g. the BBC Music Magazine’s 2013 “Instrumental CD of the Year” award as well as the Canadian “Juno Award” in 2018.

Her native Canada has bestowed upon her their highest honors: “Officer of the Order of Canada”, the “Governor General’s 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award in Classical Music” (Canada’s equivalent to the US Kennedy Centre Awards), as well as three honorary doctorates. She passes on her wide musical experience in master classes and at her annual “International Piano Academy” in Bavaria, where she now resides and makes frequent appearances as a juror of the world’s most prestigious piano competitions.

2020 began promising with another tour in North America featuring concerts in five Canadian provinces including a highly acclaimed recital at Salle Bourgie in Montreal as well as a recital at Willamette University in Oregon’s capital Salem, before the consequences of the corona epidemic stopped her tour cancelling her last two concerts. The subsequent lockdowns prevented numerous further engagements, although a brief loosening of the restrictions allowed her to return to the prestigious Klavier Festival Ruhr for an enthusiastically acclaimed recital in Dortumund (” … a real pianistic moment of glory …” Westallgemeine Zeitung) as well as to the Belfast International Arts Festival where she performed Beethoven’s piano concertos Nos. 3 and 4 in October of 2020

On May 7, 2021 Ms Fialkowska celebrated her 70th birthday.. Most of the concerts of her “Birthday Celebration Tour” were cancelled as well as the production of a new CD. Nevertheless her birthday was heartily celebrated in the media worldwide. In November her autobiography “A Note in Time” (Novum Publishing, London UK) was released.

She was looking forward to a tour of a seven weeks in Canada and the US starting in late January of 2022. But yet again, Covid restrictions and logistics put a spanner in the works. What remained of this tour was a short one-week trip across the Atlantic in early March with two concerts for Portland Piano International in the US and a triumphant comeback recital for the Ottawa Chamber Festival.

At the end of April 2022 Janina Fialkowska went on a tour of four Canadian provinces starting in Halifax with Symphony Nova Scotia, followed by a recital in Quebec City for the Club Musical. After concerts with the Calgary Philharmonic she performed in Ontario at the Guelph Festival as well as for the in Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society and at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts and at Montreal’s Salle Bourgie ending in Saskatchewan with the Regina Symphony and a recital in Saskatoon for Gustin House. After that she returned to Europe to perform at the Berlin Piano Festival in Germany’s Capital as well as the prestigious Klavierfruehling Deutschlandsberg in Austria followed by several recitals in Germany and a concert with the Rijeka Symphony (Croatia). Highlights in 2023: Rerturning to the Klavierfestival Ruhr (Düsseldorf), a concert with the Cologne Chamber Orchestra, recitals in the UK as well as a tour of summer festivals and a winter tour in Ontario, Canada.

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Reviews —

Her playing is characterized by great dynamic phrasing, an immensely fine feel of rhythm, and exact articulation that is all based on a sense of virtuosity that is never just showing off

Oliver Buslau, Piano News (Germany - translated)

... as long as Janina Fialkowska performs, Rubinstein won't be forgotten.

Memminger Zeitung

...a musician of extraordinary sensibility and captivating, artless purity... an interpreter of sublime inspiration.

The Telegraph

One can sense that Fialkowska has lived with and thought about these works for a long time, and is able to communicate her intentions with technical authority, intelligent musicality, and palpable style.

Classics Today

Besides her exquisite artistry, Fialkowska has become equally lauded for her fighting spirit as she battled a cancer diagnosis that stole the use of her left arm in 2002. She returned to a full schedule of concertizing, recording and teaching an unbelievable two years later after undergoing several delicate surgeries on her arm -- a fact that is difficult to believe after hearing her perform like a tiger Friday night.

Holly Harris, The Winnipeg Free Press

Although the Pleyel piano does not have the brilliant shimmer of a modern concert grand, Fialkowska suffused it with a golden glow and silken technique that illuminated every note of this much-loved piece … … this was an evening to remember for a long time.

John Terauds, The Toronto Star

An eloquent sense of rhythm conspired with fine adjustments of volume to produce a performance of rare intimacy and feeling. The understated tone of the instrument made filigree seem expository rather than decorative. I can think of many performances on brilliant modern pianos that have given us more sound and less music.

Arthur Kaptainis, The Gazette (Montreal)

The performance wasn’t about the soloist, as it normally would be in a Chopin concerto. That being said, Fialkowska was a standout from the moment she stepped on stage with her majestic black tailcoat. The E-minor concerto under her hands and on the Pleyel piano — Chopin’s instrument of choice — was light, crisp, and full of life. Perhaps it’s the half-Polish blood in her, Fialkowska has a natural flamboyance in this music without even having to try hard.

L.H. Tiffany Hsieh, La Scena Musicale

We have had many celebrated executants in London in this Chopin anniversary year -- Zimerman, Pollini and Yundi Li among them -- but none has taken my breath away quite like Fialkowska.

Barry Millington, The Evening Standard (London)

Selected Discography —

Chopin: Recital 4

Her playing is characterized by great dynamic phrasing, an immensely fine feel of rhythm, and exact articulation that is all based on a sense of virtuosity that is never just showing off

Piano news - translated from DE

SCHUBERT - Sonata & Impromptus (65th Birthday Album)

perfect combination of grace and virtuosity


GRIEG - Lyric Pieces

This new disc of Grieg miniatures by the Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska once again identifies her as a musician of extraordinary sensibility and captivating, artless purity... she is an interpreter of sublime inspiration.

The Telegraph

CHOPIN - Complete Mazurkas

Janina Fialkowska now presents her masterpiece, since her complete recording of Chopin's 55 Mazurkas matches up absolutely to Rubinstein's three complete recordings.

Fono Forum Magazine Germany

SCHUBERT Piano Sonatas D. 664 & D. 894

Fialkowska plays with a sustained commitment…[her] seasoned touch is a tribute to her mature understanding of Schubert’s actual intentions. Fialkowska’s Schubert is the real McCoy.

The WholeNote

MOZART - Mozart Concertos 13 & 14

Fialkowska crafts pure poetry with a multitude of fine modulations from her 10 fleet fingers. She knows exactly when to be bold and when to pull back and drape a silken veil over her keyboard.

Toronto Star

CHOPIN - Chopin Recital 2

…her pacing and exceptional grasp of musical narrative is a masterclass in the art of pianistic rhetoric.

BBC Music Magazine

CHOPIN - Piano concertos

She displays a formidable mastery, taking Chopin’s early poetic ardour firmly in hand.

Gramophone Magazine

CHOPIN - Recital

There is a new and unmistakable joie de vivre, an almost improvisatory abandon and, frequently, a sense of sheer unbuttoned fun not normally associated with either Fialkowska or Chopin.

BBC Music Magazine
See full discography

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  • Nicola Semple | UK and Ireland local management