Vytautus Julius Smetona, piano

Friday, April 17, 2015, 11am & 7:30pm
Concerts are free and open to the public.
Doors open 30 minutes in advance of concert.

ARTIST

Vytautus Julius Smetona, piano

BIOGRAPHY

Vytautas Julius Smetona was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Lithuanian parents. His principal teachers were his mother, Birute, and brother, Anthony. He studied theory and composition with the noted composer Starling Cumberworth. Birute was a concert pianist whose teachers included Robert Casadesus, Yves Nat, and Leonard Shure. Anthony Smetona was a pianist and a graduate of the Mannes College of Music and the Juilliard School. His teachers included Rosina Lhévinne, Nadia Reisenberg, and Leonard Shure.

Vytautas made successful debuts at New York City’s Town Hall in 1976 and at London’s Wigmore Hall in 1980. This was followed by a live recital over radio station WQXR in New York City. Among the orchestras with which Mr. Smetona has appeared as piano soloist are the Baltimore Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, and the St. Louis Symphony. His playing drew the admiration of Jorge Bolet, Sergiu Comissiona, Lili Kraus, James Levine, Eduardo Mata, Neville Marriner, and Leonard Slatkin.

His recording debut, “Vytautas Smetona Plays Chopin Liszt, and Rachmaninoff”, was released in 1979 and favorably reviewed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the San Francisco Chronicle. Audio Magazine’s Edward Tatnall Canby wrote as follows about the album: “Fantastic technique, and better than that, a big concept of his music”.

His musical career was interrupted in March of 1983 after a final performance given at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Vytautas never lost touch with music, an oasis of beauty, as he continued to reflect and study. After a prolonged absence, he has returned to the concert stage.

His performance this April at the Friday Musicale (a series on which he first appeared in February 1981) will be his first formal recital performance since his return. Mr. Smetona is also scheduled to appear in interview and performance on the Cleveland, Ohio, affiliate of National Public Radio. His new recording, “All the Way Back”, will be released in the beginning of 2015 by Parma Recordings and features an original composition together with music of Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, and Schumann.