In 1993 the German Industrialist, Theo Lieven, decided to create the International Piano Foundation Theo Lieven on the shores of Lake Como. It quickly gained an international reputation due to the legendary teachers invited, such as Karl Ulrich Schnabel, Moura Lympany, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Murray Perahia, and Alexis Weissenberg. In short time the Foundation began to form young artists of the highest rank.
However in 2002 Lieven could no longer finance the Foundation and the International Piano Academy Lake Como was born with William Grant Nabore as Artistic Director and Turid Hjelmstad Johansen Prestinari as Administrator and Martha Argerich as Honorary President. The faculty included Alicia de Larrocha, Charles Rosen, Graham Johnson, Fou Ts’ong, Malcom Bilson, Menahem Pressler, Leon Fleisher, Peter Frankl, Claude Frank, Andreas Staier, Dimitry Bashkirov, William Grant Nabore and Stanislav Ioudenitch, now its Vice President. Since then the prestige of the the International Piano Academy has soared and many of its students, past and present, are considered some of the finest pianists before the public today. Besides the many prizes and awards our alumni have received, a point of pride for us is that we have formed more than forty Professors who occupy top positions in conservatories and universities around the world!
For some years now, the International Piano Academy Lake Como has had a temporary home in Dongo, Lake Como. It will now move back to its original habitat and the splendor of Villa Mella facing Bellagio due to the extraordinary generosity of its owner, Simonetta Fraquelli. It is one of the most beautiful locations on the idyllic shores of Lake Como.
The Academy is dedicated to nurturing the development of young pianists across the globe, tailoring career development, technique, artistic insight, concert preparation to the needs of each young artist invited to attend. With this level of artistic achievement it is a truly unique institution seeking to ensure that the next generation of accomplished pianists have the tools, experience and support they need to succeed on a global level. Academy alumni have gone on to win every top piano competition (sometimes more than once!) and award, performing in major venues and with the world’s greatest orchestras and producing some truly exceptional and highly acclaimed recordings.
The great Artur Schnabel and his son, Karl Ulrich Schnabel chose to immigrate to Italy and to Lake Como after their exile from Germany before WWII to the Villa Ginetta on the grounds of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in 1933 near Villa Mella where the Schnabels founded their own piano school.
Building on this tradition, the International Piano Academy Lake Como selects seven pianists between the ages of 20 and 30 annually from a worldwide field of applicants. The process of selection is extremely competitive as only the very best young pianists are considered. This select group is then given the opportunity to study with the Academy’s outstanding artist faculty. These distinguished artists come for approximately a week at a time and give daily private instruction and masterclasses to the fortunate seven students.
Students admitted to the International Piano Academy Lake Como study free of charge, with emphasis placed on the development of the highest artistic and instrumental achievement amid a rich and inspiring cultural life. “Our role is to give the maximum of artistic information from which our students can choose. We try to open their eyes and ears to the beauty and mystery of great performances,” says the Academy founder, William Grant Nabore.
Away from the pressures of the outside world, students are able to learn and work in a relaxed, stimulating and contemplative environment. Here they receive inspiration, opportunities and guidance in every aspect of their artistic and performing lives.