Peter Friis Johansson

May 2, 2018, 12:15 pm

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by Urban Jörén

Swedish pianist Peter Friis Johnsson known for his nuances and his ability to reveal “unexpected cultural contexts” in the music, joins us live from Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center with two works by Franz Liszt.


Peter Friis Johansson is different. His fiery performances, intuition for subtle variation, and ability to create musical ideas in unexpected cultural contexts have earned him praise such as ’the king of nuance’ and ’sound magician’. He has appeared at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, won international piano competitions, and has collaborated with world famous composers.

Mr. Friis Johansson’s performing career had a humble beginning. At age nine, he enrolled in a public music school in a Stockholm suburb and began his studies with Inger Flyckt. Later he studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm with Anders Kilström and Mats Widlund. After his formal education, he continued his musical study with Konstantin Bogino as his mentor.

While Mr. Friis Johansson was a student, his performing career was flourishing. He embarked on several Scandinavian tours and, along with Jakob Koranyi, recorded a CD that was later crowned album of the year by MusicWeb International magazine. He was discovered by Swedish Radio who made him their artist in residence and embarked on a tour of Europe with clarinetist Emil Jonason performing concerts in, among others venues, the Musikverein and the Concertgebouw.

In the summer of 2012 Mr. Friis Johansson’s career was devastated by a hand injury. To provide for his family, he performed concerts with nine functioning fingers while training his healthy left hand and for a period it felt like he lost a finger. After a long rehabilitation process, he recovered as an artist with new musical possibilities. He made his international comeback at the 2014 Alaska International Piano-e-Competition. The competition was a triumphant success for Mr. Friis Johansson who was awarded first prize and gold medalist while expanding his performing career in the US.

Mr. Friis Johansson is currently performing cycles of Franz Schubert’s eleven completed piano sonatas in Scandinavia and abroad. He will also record the cycle of sonatas during the coming years. He collaborated with legendary Swedish composer Sven- David Sandström’s for a new piano concerto that was premiered in March 2017 with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. In 2018, he will premiere Andrea Tarrodi’s piano concerto “Stellar Clouds” with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and make his soloist debut in the United States.

In addition to his solo career, Peter is a passionate chamber musician who has engaged in long-term projects with cellists Andreas Brantelid and Jakob Koranyi. With Emil Jonason, he formed the duo Emil&Peter which seamlessly blends music with acting and the spoken word. Mr. Friis Johansson’s uses these multidisciplinary elements in his project The Final Frontier, a concert incorporating a theme of science fiction, using modern technology to update the piano recital to an art form adapted for contemporary society.

Mr. Friis Johansson is the founder of the Järna Festival Academy, one of Sweden’s most prominent festivals. Since 2015, he teaches at the Academy of Music in Västerås.

He regularly gives master classes at other high profile music conservatories in Sweden and abroad.

Artist biography provided by the International Music Foundation.

  • Sonetto del Petrarca No. 123 from Années de pèlerinage II, by Franz Liszt
    Années de pèlerinage II

  • Piano Sonata in B Minor, S.178, by Franz Liszt
    Lento assai – Allegroenergico
    Andante sostenuto – Quasi adagio
    Allegro energico – Andante sostenuto