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Biography

CAROLINE HAFFNER, PIANO


Caroline Haffner (born Princess Caroline Murat) is acclaimed by connoisseurs, critics and fellow musicians for the brilliant virtuosité, profound musicianship and dramatic intensity of her playing. She has been encouraged throughout her career by personalities such as Placido Domingo, Maxim Vengerov and Mstislav Rostropovitch, who spoke of the imagination, colour and poetry in her performance.


The style of playing - eminently romantic and dramatic - which characterizes Caroline Haffner allows her to be mentioned alongside the legendary pianists with whom she has studied. As a child prodigy she took lessons with Alfred Cortot and was deeply influenced by the limpidité, fluidity and spontaneous expression of his style. Later she studied with Samson Francois, Pierre Sancan, and with David Oistrakh's accompanist, the Russian teacher Lev Oborine in Moscow. All these varied and individualistic musicians strongly influenced her artistic understanding and development. Since her youth, the technical and musical skills of Caroline Haffner have brought her a string of prestigious awards. 


After a number of first prizes at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique (CNSM) in Paris, a Licence de Concert at the age of 14 years at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris, recognition from Charles Munch and a 'virtuosité' at the Conservatoire de Genève, Caroline continued her studies in Vienna with Leonid Brumberg. Invited to attend the Conservatoire Tschaikovsky in Moscow, Caroline was received by Leonid Brejnev and then also received a Fullbright Scholarship from the hands of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President J.F. Kennedy to allow her to finish her studies in the United States. One of the first Frenchwomen to win an international prize Caroline Haffner was presented to Général de Gaulle as "un grand éspoir de la France" - a great hope for France. 


Soloist with the ORTF, invited to Jacques Chancel's "Grand Echiquier", youngest lauréate at the Marguerite Long international competition in Paris, Grand Prix at the Genève International Competition, the Terni Casagrande competition and prize winner at the Busoni International Competition in Bolzano: these achievements marked the start of an international career as a concert and soloist performer. Caroline made her debut at the Théatre des Champs Elysées in Paris with Tschaikovsky's Concerto No 1 with Emmanuel Krivine. Since then she has played in all the major music festivals (Garsington, Verbier Academy and Festival, Moscow Spring Festival, Ludwisbourg Festival), and on the main stages of the world - including Carnegie Hall, The Albert Hall, Tschaikovsky Great Hall - and worked with conductors such as Pierre Dervaux, Lawrence Foster, Igor Markevitch, Armin Jordan and orchestras including the New York Symphony, Orchestre de Suisse Romande, RAI, Greek Radio TV, Russian National Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic and the London Mozart Players.


The style of Caroline Haffner - a powerful energy with a highly disciplined temperament - has brought her a great reputation as a romantic pianist among fellow musicians as well as critics. She is also recognized as an interpreter of contemporary music, playing work by Olivier Messiaen and Luis de Pablo, and collaborating with a number of composers - including Henri Dutilleux, Yves Prin, Renaud Gagneux, Philippe Fénelon and Pascal Dusapin. While pianist in residence at the "Casa de Velazquez" in Madrid Caroline worked with Cristobal Halfter. She has recorded with the Ensemble Intercontemporain and was awarded a "Diapason d'Or".  Caroline recreated Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" in the composer's original version for Jazz Band and Classical Orchestra at St John's, Smith Square, London in 1989. 


Caroline takes her stage name from her mother - descended from Sigmund Haffner, Mayor of Salzburg and friend of Mozart for whom he wrote the Haffner Serenade and Symphony of the same name. Technically and musically expert Caroline also has an interest in ancient music and discovered and rewrote with the "Biblioteca Vivaldiana" and Cini Foundation Venice, Cimarosa's "La Morte d'Abele" oratorio and organized its first public performance at the Cathedral of Geneva while Artistic Director for the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Office - following a number of her own recitals at the UN in New York - just part of her extensive contribution to humanitarian and social causes. Caroline Haffner's interest in music also extends to literature and she has spoken and made presentations at conferences including the annual "Foret des Livres" on Mozart ("Mozart l'Europeen") with an emphasis on his relationship with her own family; on Music and Liberty ("L'Europe Musicale et la Liberte"), Music in the Renaissance and this year on Music in time of Crisis ("La Musique en temps de Crise"). She has also contributed to a biography on Francois 1er on renaissance music and to numerous TV and radio programmes - including a three year programme for Radio France International as a musical historian on world music researching original soundtracks from Iran, Kurdistan, Turkey, Morocco, Spain, the Caribbean and Uruguay. 


Much in demand as a chamber orchestra musician, Caroline spends a large part of her time collaborating with artists of international renown such as Maxim Vengerov, Teresa Stich-Randall, Bruno Pasquier and Alain Marion. Her recording of Mendelssohn's Piano and Violin sonata was acclaimed in reviews by 'Fanfare' and 'Intune' among many others. She has been invited as Maître de Chant by the Opéra of Paris, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the St. Gallen and Monte-Carlo Operas. She has also been the accompanist at a number of opera recitals and played one of the first recitals to open Garsington Opera. Celebrations of Mozart continued with performances in Istanbul, Paris, Ravenna Festival, Zurich and in London to celebrate the end of the international "Year of Glenn Gould".  Caroline's programme for 2009 includes recitals in France, Italy, Spain and the UK together with a recital at the Palais Royal, Warsaw for the 20th anniversary of "Solidarnosc" and for the royal family in Bangkok, Thailand. 


Dedicated to teaching throughout her career Caroline began giving classes at the age of 17 years in Paris. She has been teacher or assistant to the great pédagogues and for centres including the CNSM in Paris, the Vienna and Geneva Conservatoires. Caroline Haffner was involved in the founding of the Verbier Festival and Academy and continues to co-ordinate the Piano Academy and regularly serves as jury member for a number of international competitions (for violin, piano and voice) - this April in Spain (51º Concurso Internacional de Piano Premio “Jaén”) where she opened the competition with a gala concert.  She also holds masterclasses - recently in China and has arranged sponsorship for Institutes for the blind in Spain and France and for medical research. 


Caroline Haffner founded a number of festivals herself including the "Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad" (Switzerland), The "Festival d'Art Lyrique de Beausoleil", The "Festival Caribéen de Piano" , "Ski & Music in Veysonnaz-Nendaz" (Switzerland), "Le Piano fait son Cinema" (La Baule) and the "New Year Music Festival" Gstaad. Caroline set up the Association for the Promotion of Classical Music (APMC) as a not-for-profit organisation assisting young musicians and offering them a stage at her events alongside established, world class maestros. She is helped in the success of these projects by the generous participation of some of the world's great musicians including Cecilia Bartoli, Maxim Vengerov, Vadim Repin and Jean Yves Thibaudet. Caroline has performed with Maxim Vengerov on several occasions - including the three Brahms Sonatas, in Gstaad, which merited excellent reviews. Her projects have also led to successful collaboration with a number of music organisations - including the IMOLA Academy, Conservatoire de Geneve, the Purcell School of Music and Academia Reina Sofia. Artistic director for a number of charity galas in Europe and the USA: for the "Weizman Institute", the "Tel-Aviv Museum", orphanages in Africa and South America, hospitals in Zambia and Malawi and for Madame Giscard d'Estaing's "Fondation pour l'Enfance" at the Palace of Versailles. Caroline is now starting new long term programmes and festivals in France (St Tropez) and a ten year "International Classic Camden" project in London.

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