Abdel Rahman El Bacha

Lebanese pianist and composer (Beyrouth, 1958 - )

El Bacha was one of the very rare musicians to be unanimously awarded both the Jury and Audience First Prize at the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Music Competition in 1978. The pianist has been acclaimed both for his performances and for his recordings: his first album, recording Sergei Prokofiev's works, was the recipient of the Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros.

Abdel Rahman El Bacha was raised in a family of musicians. He started studying the piano in 1967 with Zvart Sarkissian, a student of Marguerite Long, and performed for the first time at age 10. Moving to Paris, he joined the Paris Conservatoire, where he furthered his training with Pierre Sancan, Henri Challan and Jean-Claude Reynaud. From 1977, he was awarded four first prizes for piano, chamber music, harmony and counterpoint.

Invited to perform in Europe, Japan, the Middle East and in the U.S., El Bacha developped a rich repertoire including almost 60 concertos and largely based on the works of Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Prokofiev. Beethoven has held a special place in his discography: the recording of the full cycle of Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas, lauded by the press as a “major event”, was a tremendous success, as were the performance that followed it.

He has regularly performed with prestigious orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Paris Orchestra, the National Orchestra of France, Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande… Abdel Rahman El Bacha is also a composer, his works have been a reflection of his dual nationality, both French and Lebanese.

Six landmark dates in the life of Abdel Rahman El Bacha:

1973: Claudio Arrau predicted him a great career

1974: Decided to move to France after obtaining a scholarship.

1978: Unanimously awarded the Jury's First Prize at Concours Reine Elisabeth de Belgique as well as the Audience Prize

1981: Franco-Lebanese dual nationality

1983: Awarded the “Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros”, received from the hands of Mrs Prokofiev in person, for his recordings of Prokofiev's early works

2002: Awarded the Médaille de l’Ordre du Mérite by the President of the Lebanese Republic, the highest distinction of his native country

Biography from Radio France’s document database, September 2013