Richard Anderson's acclaimed documentary about composer Michael Hersch's performances and works for the piano. An Official Selection of the 2013 American Documentary Film Festival, the NYC Independent Film Festival and others, Anderson's film sheds light on this aspect of the composer's music-making, with never before seen or heard footage of Hersch playing his own work at the piano, from his debut to the present.
"'The Sudden Pianist' focuses on the composer Michael Hersch, who writes works that are often startling in their complexity, beauty and demonic fury. Mr. Hersch is also a pianist, albeit one who rarely performs publicly. A film by Richard Anderson explores Mr. Hersch’s compositions for the piano; a companion CD features his remarkable 'The Vanishing Pavilions,' inspired by the poetry of Christopher Middleton." -- The New York Times
"... The Sudden Pianist, a documentary by Baltimore filmmaker Richard Anderson released on DVD by Innova. Hersch, who teaches at Peabody, is a composer with a challenging, even astonishing style encompassing extremes of volume, range and texture. The film focuses on his embrace of the piano as means of expression. There are performances of his epic 'The Vanishing Pavilions'" -- The Baltimore Sun
"The movie looks at Michael Hersch's involvement as pianist and composer for the piano in a way that makes you want to hear all of the music afterwards ... I was riveted by it. The 'Suite from the Vanishing Pavilions' most certainly qualifies as one of the essential piano works of this century thus far ... Michael Hersch has the tools and the imagination to be one of the leading lights of modern music. This set does much to convince me of that ... Do not miss this one."
-- Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
Widely considered among the most gifted composers of his generation, Michael Hersch’s work has been performed in the U.S. and abroad under conductors including Mariss Jansons, Alan Gilbert, Marin Alsop, Robert Spano, Carlos Kalmar, Yuri Temirkanov, Giancarlo Guerrero, and James DePreist; with the major orchestras of Cleveland, Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Cincinnati, Seattle, and Oregon, among others; and ensembles including the String Soloists of the Berlin Philharmonic, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Ensemble Klang, the Kreutzer Quartet, the Blair String Quartet, and the Network for New Music Ensemble. He has written for such soloists as Thomas Hampson, Midori, Garrick Ohlsson, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Shai Wosner, Boris Pergamenschikow, Walter Boeykens, Peter Sheppard-Skaerved, and Michael Sachs. His solo and chamber works have appeared on programs from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in the U.S. to Germany’s Schloss Neuhardenberg Festival in Brandenberg and the Philharmonie in Berlin; from the U.K.’s Dartington New Music Festival and British Museum to Italy’s Romaeuropa and Nuova Consonanza Festivals. Performances in the far east include those with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Japan’s Pacific Music Festival. Recent premieres include his two-act monodrama, On the Threshold of Winter, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music presented by NUNC, and his work for solo violin, Of Sorrow Born, premiered at the New York Philharmonic's inaugural Biennial. Other notable performances include Night Pieces, commissioned and premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra, a song cycle for baritone and piano, Domicilium, premiered by Thomas Hampson and Wolfgang Rieger on San Francisco Performances, and his Symphony No. 3, premiered by the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival Orchestra.
Born in Washington D.C., Michael Hersch came to international attention at age twenty-five, when he was awarded First Prize in the Concordia American Composers Awards. The award resulted in a performance of his Elegy, conducted by Marin Alsop in New York's Alice Tully Hall in early 1997. Later that year he became one of the youngest recipients ever of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition. Mr. Hersch has also been the recipient of the Rome Prize (2000), the Berlin Prize (2001) and both the Charles Ives Scholarship (1996) and Goddard Lieberson Fellowship (2006) from the American Academy of Arts & Letters.