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MUSIC ‣ Musician of the Month, January-February, Mathilde Handlesman, Pianist

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

Constantly recognized as an imaginative and unusual performer with refined interpretations, for her “calm technical mastery, immediate understanding of balance” as well as “extraordinary vigor, flawless musicality,” (Dernieres Nouvelles d’Alsace, 2013), Mathilde Handelsman is a concert pianist, poet, and educator from Paris, France.

Spanning the repertoire across Europe and the United States, Handelsman's career as a soloist and collaborative musician has led her to perform under conductors such as Seiji Ozawa, Thomas Adès, Stefan Asbury, and Luigi Gaggero. Highlights from recent and current seasons include chamber performances alongside Yo-Yo Ma, Nicolas Namoradze, and Stephen Drury at the Tanglewood Music Festival, as well as an upcoming solo debut at Carnegie Hall in 2022.

Handelsman's début solo album, Images, featuring Claude Debussy’s complete works of 1903-1907, was produced by the record label Sheva in 2020. A collaborative album devoted to new commissions for woodwinds and piano by Roger Boutry will be released in 2022. Additionally, Handelsman’s work as a poet includes two published volumes, Pré-sage (2016) and L’Absurde Génie des fleurs (2017).

Mathilde Handelsman was born in Paris to a family of musicians and visual artists. Her principal teachers are Menahem Pressler, John O’Conor, and Laurent Cabasso. She has also received recent guidance and mentorship from Emanuel Ax, Garrick Ohlsson, Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Serkin, Robert Levin, Jeffrey Kahane, Philippe Cassard and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. After graduating “Magna cum laude” from the Académie Supérieure de Musique de Strasbourg in 2015, Mathilde moved to the United States to further her studies at the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University-Bloomington. In 2020, she earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Shenandoah Conservatory.

Since 2020, Handelsman has served on the music faculty at the University of New Hampshire, where she now holds the position of Lecturer of Piano and Director of the Piano Extension Program. She previously served on the piano faculty of the Shenandoah Conservatory Arts Academy and the Young Pianists Program at Indiana University.

Your Preferred Music ? I have too many and in different genres! In classical, my all-time favorite composers are Mozart, Schumann, Debussy, and Stravinsky. I also listen to a lot of jazz, soul/funk, and African music. Particular favorites are Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, Fela Kuti, and Manu Dibango. Your Most Memorable Moment as a Professional Musician? Some of my most memorable moments as a professional musician have been playing in small, intimate settings in which I felt that I could connect directly to the audience, during private concerts or even in spontaneous living-room performances. I love feeling an audience near me, discovering and breathing through the music with me. The moments when you feel that you, the performer, and your auditors are all in this together, that you can truly let go and let the music speak �C that’s when magic happens. Those are the moments I live for. Describe Your Dream Performance. As a life-long lover of literature, poetry, and theater, I often ponder on different ways to include words in a music performance. As I build concert programs, I constantly revisit this question, but I have not yet come up with any truly satisfactory project. Combining music with other arts in general is a topic I am interested in, and I guess a dream performance for me would be something that brings music and poetry together in a manner that does not take away from either medium. Perhaps I will know the dream performance when it happens! For now, I hope to keep sharing works that I care about, collaborating with other musicians and artists that I admire, and defend projects that excite me.

To learn more about Mathilde visit


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