Polish-American pianist Adam Golka (born 1987) first performed all of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas when he was 18 years-old, and he considers the 32 masterpieces to have been his saving grace during the Covid crisis. “The reason I can’t stay away from Beethoven is that he put himself through absolute hell in an attempt to marry the rawest expressions of his subconscious to the unattainable ideals of his mind. No other composer before or since has been willing to explore this internal warfare as deeply as he did, and I constantly feel that I’ll somehow redeem myself by surrendering to the fight which is at the core of performing his works.”
In 2020-2021, Adam Golka performed the eleven-hour cycle of Beethoven’s Sonatas five times in its entirety, three times for socially distanced audiences at the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park (Florida), once at the Archway Gallery in Houston, and also a live-streamed cycle at the Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue (NYC), with a growing live audience as the year-long series proceeded. Adam’s performances were complemented by 32 short films he created, known as 32@32 (available on YouTube), documenting his preparation for climbing the Everest of the piano literature, and featuring an amalgam of distinguished guests, from astrophysicists to Alfred Brendel. First Hand Records in London has released his “Beethoven Piano Sonatas Vol. 1” in 2020, recorded at the Tippet Rise Art Center in Montana. “Adam Golka plays [Sonatas op. 10] with a certain brio, fiery, very free. After all, Beethoven dares in them fantasies, embellishments, cadenzas that the pianist seizes with a sense of improvisation, variations of mood, which never make you forget the simple beauty of his touch, the obviousness of his speech.” Artamag (France)
As public events in the United States re-opened, Adam was engaged by the Buffalo Philharmonic and Asheville Symphonies to film concertos by Bach, Mozart, Clara Schumann, Saint-Saëns, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich for online release. He has also recorded a recital for the Chelsea Music Festival at High Line Nine, and he performed for live audiences at Chamber Music Sedona, as well as a series of recitals with cellist Jonathan Swensen, including the Morgan Library in NYC.
In 2021-2022, Adam plays Beethoven’s Emperor with the California Symphony and he tours with a recital featuring Beethoven’s Les Adieux, Liszt’s Sonata, Grażyna Bacewicz’s Piano Sonata No. 2, as well as etudes by Nicolai Kapustin and his own Relevant Etude (2021), including stops at the PianoTexas International Festival, Minnesota Beethoven Festival, and Brattleboro Music Center. He also joins violinist Itamar Zorman for recitals at Wigmore Hall in London and the Israel Conservatory in Tel-Aviv, pianist Yannick Rafalimanana for a two-piano recital at Kammermusik-Verein Halberstadt (Germany), and he will also enjoy a two-week residency at the Krzyżowa-Music Festival (Poland).
Adam Golka is deeply indebted to his two main teachers, José Feghali, with whom he studied at Texas Christian University, and Leon Fleisher, with whom he worked as part of the Artist Diploma program at the Peabody Conservatory. Since finishing his formal studies, Adam has continued to develop his artistry through private mentorship from his favorite artists: Alfred Brendel, Richard Goode, Murray Perahia, Ferenc Rados, and András Schiff, who invited Adam to give recitals at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr and Tonhalle Zürich for the “Sir András Schiff Selects” concert series.
As a concerto soloist, he has appeared with dozens of orchestras, including the BBC Scottish Symphony, NACO (Ottawa), Warsaw Philharmonic, Shanghai Philharmonic, as well as the San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, New Jersey, and San Diego symphonies. Adam has enjoyed collaborations with conductors such as Donald Runnicles, Pinchas Zukerman, Mark Wigglesworth, Joseph Swensen, and he has made countless concerto appearances with his brother, conductor Tomasz Golka. Adam gave his Carnegie Stern Auditorium début in 2010 with the New York Youth Symphony and his New York recital début at Alice Tully Hall, presented by the Musicians Emergency Fund.
Adam’s professional life began when he was awarded the first prize and audience prize at the 2nd China Shanghai International Piano Competition. In 2009, he won the Max I. Allen Fellowship from American Pianists Association. As a pedagogue, he acted as Artist-in-Residence for six school years at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Adam has recorded works by Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms for First Hand Records and he has premiered works composed for him by Richard Danielpour, Michael Brown, and Jarosław Gołębiowski.
“This was a performance not to dazzle, but to draw you into a world of intimate beauties.”
“He imbued Ravel’s flowing writing with a wealth of colour and dynamic range, integrating the solo role with organic sensitivity.”
“In Golka’s hands, the work was stunning, a revelation of the composer’s soul.”
- 32@32, a Beethoven Piano Sonata Celebration
- Got Beethoven?
- Adam Golka performs on the Van Cliburn Virtuoso series
- Adam Golka and Jayce Ogren debut with the San Francisco Symphony this month
- Adam Golka Releases a Schumann Disc!