Ralph Votapek is professor emeritus of piano at the Michigan State University College of Music.
He is the gold medalist of the first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and winner of the prestigious Naumburg Award. Votapek has been featured 16 times as the Chicago Symphony’s guest soloist, has played with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Boston Pops, the Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, National Symphonies, and other top ensembles.
With eastern hemisphere concerto engagements stretching from London to Taiwan, he has also toured in Russia, Japan, and Korea. He has made a special commitment to Latin America, where he has toured for nearly 50 years, performing repeatedly in Buenos Aires, Rio, Santiago, and other cities. He recently received the Foreign Artist in Recital Award from the Argentine Association of Music Critics. He is equally celebrated as a solo recitalist throughout the United States and has performed repeatedly in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, and the National Gallery in Washington. Guest appearances with the Juilliard, Fine Arts, New World, and Chester String quartets highlight his extensive chamber music experience.
Votapek was the soloist on Arthur Fiedler’s last Boston Pops recording, a Gershwin program released on CD by London Records and most recently available as a part of the Deutsche Grammophone CD titled “The Arthur Fiedler Legacy.” In recent years he has recorded prolifically for the Ivory Classics and Blue Griffin labels. On the former he recorded the complete Debussy Preludes, the complete Goyescas of Granados, and a collection of important 20th century works. On the latter there are “Votapek Plays Gershwin,” “The Votapeks from Mozart to Piazzolla,” and the complete works for piano and cello of Beethoven with cellist Suren Bagratuni. They have been critically acclaimed by Grammophone, American Record Guide, International Piano, and Fanfare magazines.
His wife, Albertine, frequently joins him in two-piano and four-hand recitals. They have appeared in Buenos Aires under the auspices of the Mozarteum Argentino, on the Van Cliburn Series in Fort Worth, the Pabst Theatre Series in Milwaukee, and on many college campuses.
Votapek is now retired from Michigan State University, where he served as artist-in-residence for 36 years.
Photo credit: Sergei Kvitko