“ Sombart’s playing is superb: technically precise but possessing a flexibility and freedom that lets the music breathe.”
The Observer, 2016
Born in Strasbourg, Elizabeth Sombart started studying the piano at the age of seven. She entered the conservatoire of her home town and gave her first public performance at eleven. After receiving the National Piano and Chamber Music First Prize, she left France to study in Buenos Aires with Bruno-Leonardo Gelber and his mother. Her training was completed with great masters such as Peter Feuchtwanger in London, Hilde Langer-Rühl in Vienna, and finally Sergiù Celibidache at the University of Mayence, with whom she studied musical phenomenology – the complex ways in which human beings respond to sound – for ten years.
Elizabeth has performed in the world’s most prestigious concert venues: Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Suntory Hall (Tokyo), Théâtre des Champs-Elysées (Paris). In addition to solo and chamber music recitals, she has played great piano concertos with L’Orchestre National de Lille and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Elizabeth has given piano masterclasses worldwide, and from a young age, has sought to share classical music with the most diverse audiences possible, and with people from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 1988, she created Fondation Résonnance, which is active today in seven countries. One of the foundation’s key goals is to bring classical music into the community, to institutions where it is most needed: hospitals, orphanages and prisons. More than five hundred concerts are planned in these venues every year.
Fondation Résonnance also aims to create piano schools with the founding principles of free teaching, no exams, no competitions, no age restrictions, and using the teachings of the Résonnance Pedagogy – the phenomenology of sound and gesture. Through a rigorous and technical three-volume presentation collecting the teachings of Celibidache and Langer-Rühl, the focus of this teaching is to serve and offer music to others instead of using it to serve ourselves. In 2014, after twenty-five years dedicated to training pianists through the Foundation’s masterclasses, in universities and music colleges in Switzerland and abroad, Elizabeth Sombart set up Centre International d’Etude de la Pédagogie Résonnance which offers piano, vocal, chamber music, improvisation and conducting masterclasses, with Jordi Mora as Dean.
Elizabeth has recorded an extensive discography, published several books, and featured in a number of documentaries. She has a particular passion and reputation for interpreting the musical language of Chopin: she has recorded all Chopin’s nocturnes and has made well-received recordings of Chopin’s two Piano Concertos with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Pierre Vallet. Also with the RPO and Pierre Vallet she has recorded Favourite Adagios, a double CD of slow movements from the great piano concertos (Orchid) and, to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth in 2020, Beethoven’s five Piano Concertos and Triple Concerto (Signum). Most recently Elizabeth has recorded Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 20, 21, 23 and 27, again with the RPO and Pierre Vallet, due for release by Rubicon in spring 2023.
Elizabeth has recently appeared with tenor Andrea Bocelli by invitation in special gala concerts in Bucharest and Fatima. She has been honoured in France with the ranks of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for lifetime achievements and services to music. In 2022 she was made an honorary citizen in Tbilisi (Georgia).
Elizabeth’s teaching is now available to all on her new platform: elizabethsombartmasterclasses.com