Marc-André Hamelin, OC, CQ (born September 5, 1961), is a Canadian virtuoso pianist and composer. Hamelin is recognized worldwide for the originality and technical proficiency of his performances of the classic repertoire.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Marc-André Hamelin began his piano studies at the age of five. His father, a pharmacist by trade who was also an amateur pianist, introduced him to the works of Alkan, Godowsky, and Sorabji when he was still young. He studied at the École de musique Vincent-d'Indy in Montreal and then at Temple University in Philadelphia. In 1989 he was awarded the Virginia Parker Prize.
Marc-André Hamelin has given recitals in many cities. Festival appearances have included Bad Kissingen, Belfast, Cervantino, La Grange de Meslay, Husum Piano Rarities, Lanaudière, Ravinia, La Roque d’Anthéron, Ruhr Piano, Halifax (Nova Scotia), Singapore Piano, Snape Maltings Proms, Mänttä Music Festival, Turku and Ottawa Strings of the Future, as well as the Chopin Festivals of Bagatelle (Paris), Duszniki and Valldemossa. Marc-André Hamelin appears regularly in both the Wigmore Hall Masterconcert Series and the International Piano Series at London’s South Bank Centre. He plays annually in the Herkulessaal in Munich and has given a series of recitals in Tokyo.
He has made recordings of a wide variety of composers with the Hyperion label. His recording of Leopold Godowsky's complete Studies on Chopin's Études won the 2000 Gramophone Magazine Instrumental Award. He is well known for his attention to lesser-known composers especially of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (Max Reger, Leo Ornstein, Nikolai Roslavets, Georgy Catoire), and for performing works by the pianist-composers Leopold Godowsky, Charles-Valentin Alkan, Kaikhosru Sorabji, Nikolai Kapustin, Franz Liszt, Nikolai Medtner and Frederic Rzewski.
Hamelin has also composed several works, including a set of piano études in all of the minor keys, which was completed in September 2009 and is published by C. F. Peters, with a recording released on the Hyperion label. A cycle of seven pieces, called Con Intimissimo Sentimento, was published (with a recording by Hamelin) by Ongaku No Tomo Sha; and a transcription of Zequinha de Abreu's Tico-Tico No Fubá has been published by Schott Music. Although the majority of his compositions are for piano solo, he has also written three pieces for player piano (including the comical Circus Galop and Solfeggietto a cinque, which is based on a theme by C.P.E. Bach), and several works for other forces, including Fanfares for three trumpets, published by Presser. His other works are distributed by the Sorabji Archive.
In 1985 he won the Carnegie Hall International Competition for American Music. In 2004 Hamelin received the international record award in Cannes. He has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Chevalier de l'Ordre national du Québec (National Order of Québec).
Most recently, he won the 2008 Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber Ensemble—Alkan Concerto for Solo Piano.
His first marriage was to soprano Jody Karin Applebaum. He currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with his second wife Cathy Fuller, pianist and WGBH classical music broadcaster.
Writing in The New Yorker in 2000, senior critic Alex Ross pronounced: ‘Hamelin’s legend will grow—right now there is no one like him.’ Later in 2010, Ross added that Hamelin is ranked highly by piano connoisseurs, and "is admired for his monstrously brilliant technique and his questing, deep-thinking approach."
In 2015, Zachary Woolfe, classical music editor of The New York Times, noted Mr. Hamelin's "preternatural clarity and control, qualities that in him don’t preclude sensitivity [or] even poetry".