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Ralph and Claire at piano

Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem are among the most accomplished and acclaimed piano duos of their generation. Described as“consummate practitioners of pianism” (The Washington Post) they met in Italy in 1970 as young solo performers at a music festival in Umbria, were married in 1973 and have devoted themselves to the exclusive study of the duo repertoire since 1981. In 2020, Aebersold and Neiweem were awarded the inaugural career achievement award in Piano Duo by the Josef and Rosina Lhévinne Legacy Foundation. The duo are founders and directors of the NEA award-winning Chicago Duo Piano Festival, held annually at the Music Institute of Chicago.

They have also established and direct the Chicago International Duo Piano Competition, most recently held in June, 2016. The duo has commissioned significant new works for the piano duo, including Joseph Turrin’s Symmetries for Two Pianos; “Great Movements” Sonata for Piano, Four Hands by Patrick Byers, and Cries and Whispers by Robert Chumbley. Aebersold and Neiweem’s CDs on the Summit label include Four-Hand Reflections; the world premiere recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 in the composer’s own arrangement for piano, four-hands, and volumes 1 and 2 of a complete traversal of Schubert’s four-hand music, praised by Gramophone Magazine as “utterly charming...warmly recommended.” Their editions of fourhand arrangements by Brahms and Mendelssohn have been published by Dover, International, and they have written award-winning articles for Clavier Magazine. Their most recent CD, Debussy Duo Piano Images, was released in July 2020 on Berto Records.

They are frequent guests on WFMT Radio in Chicago, where they performed a series of over thirty live broadcast concerts covering virtually the complete four-hand repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries. The duo has appeared with orchestras internationally, including the Chicago Philharmonic and the Vienna Tonkünstler. Highlights of the duo’s past performances include the University of Vermont Lane Series, the Detroit Institute of Art, and the Gina Bachauer series in Salt Lake City, Utah, and many recitals at the International Music Festival “PittenClassics” in Austria.

They have been heard in recital in many cities throughout the USA and Europe, including Chicago, New York, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Santa Fe, Vienna, Rome, Florence and Odessa, Ukraine. In Italy alone they have given over 200 recitals throughout Tuscany and Umbria. Performances in New York include a pair of all-Schubert recitals at the Goethe Institute, and a 25th anniversary celebration concert at Merkin Hall.

Claire Aebersold is a native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee and is a graduate of the New England Conservatory. Ralph Neiweem hails from Evanston, Illinois and is a graduate of the Juilliard School. Their  common teachers include Irwin Freundlich, Theodore Lettvin, John Browning and Orazio Frugoni, at whose urging they became a duo. They are currently Artists-in-Residence at the Music Institute of Chicago.