Born in Ankara, Idil Biret started to play the piano at the age of three and later studied at the Paris Conservatoire under the guidance of Nadia Boulanger, graduating at the age of fifteen with three first prizes. She was a pupil of Alfred Cortot and a lifelong disciple of Wilhelm Kempff. She embarked on her career as a soloist at the age of sixteen appearing with major orchestras in the principal music centres of the world like Boston Symphony, Leningrad Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus, London Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic in collaboration with conductors of greatest distinction such as Erich Leinsdorf, Pierre Monteux, Hermann Scherchen, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Kazimierz Kord, Antoni Wit. To many major festival appearances may be added membership of juries for international competitions including the Van Cliburn, Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians and Busoni competitions. She has received the Lili Boulanger memorial Award in Boston, the Harriet Cohen / Dinu Lipatti Gold Medal in London, the Polish Cavalry Cross, the Adelaide Ristori Prize in Italy, the French Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite and the State Artist distinction in Turkey. Her more than eighty records since the 1960s include the first recordings of Liszt’s transcriptions of the nine symphonies of Beethoven for EMI, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique for Atlantic/Finnadar and for Naxos the complete piano works of Brahms, Chopin, Rachmaninov, the three Sonatas of Boulez, the Etudes of Ligeti and the Firebird piano transcription by Stravinsky, with a Marco Polo disc of the piano compositions and transcriptions of her mentor Wilhelm Kempff. These records have sold nearly three million copies. Her Boulez recording the Golden Diapason of the year award in France in 1995 and the complete Chopin recordings have received a Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin award in Poland the same year. In 2007 the President Lech Kaczsnky decorated Biret with the highest order of Poland, Cross of the Order of Merit (Krzyzem Kawalerskim Ordera Zaslugi) for her contribution to Polish culture through her recordings and performances of Chopin’s music. The Idil Biret Archive (IBA) label is now issuing her old and new recordings which are being distributed worldwide by Naxos on CD and digitally. More than 40 CDs have so far been released which include Beethoven’s 32 Sonatas, 5 Concertos, 9 Symphony transcriptions by Liszt (in a box set of 19 CDs), the many LPs she made for Decca, Vega, EMI and Atlantic records in France, Germany and USA as well as recently recorded concertos of Grieg, Liszt, Ravel, Saint-Säens, Schumann and Tchaikovsky. All the 100 plus recordings Idil Biret made since 1959 will be released in a single set containing 9 boxes (Idil Biret 100 Edition) towards the end of 2013
In 2012 Idil Biret has recorded two CDs of Schumann’s music as well as all the piano concertos of Paul Hindemith. She has toured South America giving concerts in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and later given concerts and master-classes in Paris, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. She has then traveled to China for concerts in Beijing and Shanghai where she also participated in the jury of the piano competition in Shanghai. Idil Biret’s final concerts of the year took place in December in Egypt, in Cairo and Alexandria. Her new recording of all the 5 piano concertos of Hindemith with the Yale Symphony Orchestra will be released worldwide by Naxos in October 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his passing away.