Since his concerto debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has appeared nine times, the American pianist Steven Graff has been the recipient of numerous distinguished awards and glowing critical praise. Mr. Graff was born in Chicago where he began his musical training. A string of scholarships led to studies at The Juilliard School where he received Bachelor's and Master's Degrees as a Petschek scholarship awardee, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from The Graduate School of CUNY.
Steven Graff is at home on stage, over the airwaves and in the classroom. His appearances on the Nickelodeon Channel and the QE2 enlightened audiences with his interpretive performances, and tours of China, Norway, Japan, and in cities across the U.S. have thrilled music-lovers everywhere.
A sought-after recitalist and chamber musician, Graff has performed at Weill, Zankel and Stern Auditoriums at Carnegie Hall, Lang Recital Hall and the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, Merkin and Alice Tully Halls in New York City, and his performances have been broadcast in Oslo and Honolulu, on New York radio stations WQXR and WNCN, and Chicago's WFMT.
A champion of new music, Graff has premiered and recorded contemporary works, most recently on the Centaur, Capstone and Zimbel labels. Having studied with Adele Marcus, Beveridge Webster and Herbert Stessin, and performed in master classes for Leon Fleisher, Menahem Pressler and Misha Dichter, Graff often leads his own master classes at colleges and universities, most recently at Franklin and Marshall College and at the University of Arizona at Flagstaff.
Graff’s many summer festival performances include the Bar Harbor Music Festival in Maine. He was also re-engaged as a featured teacher and performer in Hawaii's Aloha International Piano Festival where he gave master classes and was presented in a solo recital, as well as appearing in a multi-day Festival in Salt Lake City, sponsored by the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, where he was heard in recital. Recent concerto performances include a nine-city tour of China playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Manhattan Symphonie, and a premiere of John Carbon’s new piano concerto, Fantasy Nocturne, at the Barshinger Center in Pennsylvania with the Allegro Chamber Orchestra. The concerto was dedicated to Mr. Graff. Known for his improvisations, Graff improvised his own cadenzas for two Mozart concerto performances in New York City: Mozart’s Concerto No. 20 with the Spectrum Symphony and Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 with the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble.
A frequent competition adjudicator, Graff has judged for The Mannes International Keyboard Institute and Festival’s annual piano competition, France’s Fontainebleau Festival, the Gina Bachauer Jr. Competition, and the Music Teachers' National Association. He spoke on “sustaining future audiences for classical music” at the Macaulay Honors College’s bi-annual Topics and Tapas series.
Steven Graff is a Steinway Artist.
"Guest Steven Graff brought an agile, rapidfire, imaginative edge to the piano, notably his own improvised cadenzas, which were as bitingly entertaining as they were anachronistic, taking the piece two hundred years into the future. Yet these made a perfect fit with the music."
"Graff's playing has two strong points contributing to the success of this recital: He is a superb technician, most notable for his supple rhythmic control and tonal shading, and he completely inhabits the spirit of the composer. What more can a new-music aficionado ask for? For that matter, what more can any music lover ask for?"
"In this recital of wall-to-wall premiere recordings, Graff plays Carbon with a comfortable authority, easily equal to the virtuosity of the Sonata, but with the experience and expressiveness necessary to communicate the timbral and textural nuances of the Spanish Lessons."
"Graff plays...with passion and no little flair. He has a fluid, natural sense of rhythm..."
"...a world class pianist."
"The program opens with a bracing account of Robert Muczynski's
"With his classical purity and earnestness, Steven Graff suggested a young Wilhelm Backhaus. There is no higher accolade."
“Graff played with insight and feeling and mastered well the technical elements of the music.”
"Technically above reproach...fascinating pedal effects, genuine sensitivity."
"Steven Graff is undoubtedly one of the finest musical talents our village has produced."
"Mr. Graff unquestionably has the virtuosity to cope with the difficulties asked of him by the music...(he) is a strong advocate of this literature and his playing served it up with excitement and authority."
"...the refreshing sensuality of this impressionistic piece was a delight to the ear and the lush broad strokes of Graff's graceful phrasing was an equal pleasure to the eye."