Matthew BengtsonAssistant Professor of Music, Piano Literature
- 3061 Moore
Critically acclaimed as a “musician’s pianist,” Matthew Bengtson has a unique combination of musical talents ranging from an extraordinary pianist, to a composer, analyst, and scholar of performance practice, and thus is in demand as both soloist and collaborator. An advocate of both contemporary and rarely performed music, he offers an unusually diverse repertoire, ranging from Byrd to Ligeti and numerous contemporary composers.
Bengtson performed as a La Gesse Fellow in France, Germany, Italy, and Hungary; in Washington, DC; at Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello; and in solo recitals at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. He has appeared on the Pro Musica series in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He has also performed with numerous orchestras in the American Northeast and performed with violinist Joshua Bell on NPR’s Performance Today and XM Satellite Radio’s Classical Confidential.
His recordings can be heard on the Roméo, Arabesque, Griffin Renaissance, Albany, Navona, and Musica Omnia record labels. His most recent recording is a 3-CD recording of solo piano and violin/piano music of Karol Szymanowski with violinist Blanka Bednarz. Upcoming releases include the complete cello/piano music of Roberto Sierra on Albany Records with cellist John Haines-Eitzen, and a piano quintet by Dmitri Tymoczko with the Amernet String Quartet, both on Albany Records.
Bengtson is among the leading interpreters of the music of Alexander Scriabin, both as a pianist and as a co-author of The Alexander Scriabin Companion. On his recordings of the complete Piano Sonatas, the American Record Guide writes: “Big-boned pianism, rich tonal colors, and dazzling technique are on display here. Has Scriabin ever been played better?” Fanfare Magazine calls him “a Scriabinist for the 21st century… upon whom future generations can rely for definitive interpretations.” He marked the 100th anniversary of the composer’s death with numerous all-Scriabin recitals, including performances of the complete sonatas in Philadelphia and Chicago, a live radio broadcast on Pittsburgh Foundation Performance in Pittsburgh, and a multi-sensory festival “Scriabin in the Himalayas” in Ladakh, India intended as a source for a documentary film.
Bengtson’s principal teachers include Patricia Zander and Ann Schein. He has also worked significantly with Stephen Drury (contemporary music), Robert Levin (chamber music and performance practice), Claude Helffer (contemporary and French music), Webb Wiggins (harpsichord), and Malcolm Bilson (fortepiano and performance practice). He studied in Europe at the Internationale Sommerakademie “Mozarteum” in Salzburg, at the Centre Acanthes in Avignon, and at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau. In Salzburg, he performed Boulez’s Sonata no. 1 in the Wiener Saal, and at Fontainebleau, he was awarded the Prix de la Ville de Fontainebleau by Philippe Entremont for his performances.
Also known as a thoughtful writer on music, he was awarded a Stefan and Wanda Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music for his paper “‘The “Szymanowski Clash’: Methods of Harmonic Analysis in the Szymanowski Mazurkas.” His writing on the Diabelli Variations can be found in the New Beethoven Forum. He has served as a staff pianist at the Curtis Institute, and taught at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music, at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, and at the University of Pennsylvania. Besides his musical attainments, Bengtson was educated at Harvard University with a focus in mathematics and computer science.
Bengtson is a Steinway Artist.
Selected Scholarly Publications
Lincoln Ballard and Matthew Bengtson, with John Bell Young. The Alexander Scriabin Companion: History, Performance, and Lore. With a foreword by Stephen Hough. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Press, 2017.
“’The Szymanowski Clash’: Harmonic Conflict and Ambiguity in the Szymanowski Mazurkas.” In Intersections: The Canadian Journal of Music 36/1 (2016), 3-27.
“Interpretive Questions in the Diabelli Variations.” In New Beethoven Forum Vol. 12, Spring 2005: 97-110.
“Karol Szymanowski: Masterworks for violin & piano; piano solo.” Musica Omnia MO 0703, 2017. 3-CD set.
“Scriabin Piano Sonatas: Volume II.” Roméo Records, Roméo 7280, 2015. CD.
“A Harpsichord Performance: Byrd, Handel, Rameau, Bach.” Arabesque Recordings Z6818, 2011. Digital download.
“Alexander Scriabin: Six Sonatas.” Roméo Records, Roméo 7232, 2004. CD.
“Roberto Sierra: Works for Cello and Piano” with cellist John Haines-Eitzen, TROY 1700. CD.
AB (computer science), Harvard University
MM (piano), Peabody Institute
DMA (piano), Peabody Institute