Peter Breiner (*1957) – Biography
Peter Breiner is one of the world’s most recorded musicians with over 200 CDs released and over 2 million albums sold. A conductor, pianist, arranger and composer, he has conducted, often doubling as a pianist, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Mozart Orchestra, the Hungarian State Radio Orchestra, the Nicolaus Esterházy Orchestra, Budapest, the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Ukrainian State Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Capella Istropolitana, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Lille, France, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, among many others.
Some of his most acclaimed recordings include Beatles Go Baroque [Naxos 8.555010] (over a quarter of a million CDs sold worldwide) and Elvis Goes Baroque [Naxos 8.990054] which, together with Christmas Goes Baroque I and II [Naxos 8.550301 and 8.550670], represent his commercially most successful Baroque arrangements.
His arrangements of national anthems of all participating countries were used during the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. A new 10 CD set of the National Anthems of the World was written to coincide with the 2012 Olympic Games in London and was released in July 2013 by Naxos.
The world première recording for Naxos of Breiner’s own arrangements of Janáček’s Six Operatic Suites [Naxos 8.570555 and 8.570556] with him conducting the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra earned tremendous acclaim, Gramophone declaring it a “splendid disc … conducted with passion and sympathetic understanding.” The Chicago Tribune added: “Breiner fills the void with beautifully crafted symphonic suites based on the music of Jenůfa”. This was followed more recently by his own award-winning arrangements of Debussy’s 24 Préludes [Naxos 8.572584] and Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades and Voyevoda Suite [Naxos 8.573015], also recorded with the New Zealand Symphony conducted by Breiner himself.
Premiered live in July 2013 was the music for a huge Transmedia project to consist of audio recording, several interactive videos, and audience-involvement platforms – Slovak Dances, Nasty and Nice. This project is based on Peter’s own 100-minute orchestral suite of dances which was recorded by Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra with the composer conducting in September 2018.
Films that include his musical scores have enjoyed very wide international exposure, including Anne of Green Gables, Timothy Findley’s Piano Man’s Daughter produced by Whoopi Goldberg, and The Magic Flute. His music has been featured many times on the most popular TV shows, including the CBC television show Wind at My Back and Seasons of Love.
It is difficult to assign a title to this artist – is he the conductor who composes or is he the pianist who arranges? As he simply states, “I am a musician”. In this age of high specialisation, it is not so easy to find someone who, with the same ease, takes the podium for a popular light classics concert, plays and directs from the piano, conducts a symphonic orchestra in Barber or Janáček or in a program of his own arrangements, a chamber orchestra with a baroque programme while playing the harpsichord or a group of almost 200 musicians recording a score for a Universal Studios movie.
Peter Breiner began to study the piano in early childhood (1961) and his exceptional artistry led to his early acceptance at the conservatory in Košice in 1971. He studied piano with L. Kojanova and composition with J. Podprocky, as well as conducting and percussion. In 1975–1981 he studied composition at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava with Prof. Alexander Moyzes, one of the most significant figures in modern Slovak music. Peter Breiner lived in Toronto, Canada, from 1992 to 2007, when he moved to New York.
Proficient in seven languages, Breiner has hosted various TV and radio programmes about music. In 1993 he was a co-host and music director of the most popular TV talk show in Slovakia, attracting over two million viewers in a country with a population of 5.5 million. He has his own column in one of Slovakia’s most influential weekly newspapers, while his first book Maple Leaves came out in April 1998 and immediately became a No. 1 non-fiction national bestseller. In 2016 he published his second book “Isn't There Another Globe?”