The German pianist Matthias Kirschnereit has cultivated a repertoire built on strong, rather self-effacing performances in the mainstream of the German and Austrian classics. Kirschnereit was born in 1962 in Dorsten, West Germany, but from age nine he grew up in Namibia in southern Africa, a country with a sizable German population. Fascinated by the idea of a piano career, he asked permission from his family to return to Germany alone. Finally, when he was 14, permission was granted, but Kirschnereit had taken few formal lessons up to that time, and when he enrolled at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold he found his classmates far ahead of him. He quit school at 16, against the advice of friends and teachers, so that he could devote more time to the piano. Kirschnereit proved the doubters wrong when he began winning competitions like the Concours Géza Anda in Zurich and the International Australian Piano Competition in Sydney. At that point, Kirschnereit began to attract top-flight teachers, including Sandor Végh, Murray Perahia, and Claudio Arrau. Kirschnereit joined the faculty of the Academy of Music and Theater in Rostock, Germany, in 1997. Shortly after that he began a distinguished recording career on the Arte Nova label that included a complete cycle of Mozart's piano concertos, recorded over seven years with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under Frank Beermann. Kirschnereit went on to record Mendelssohn and Brahms for Arte Nova; his recording of a reconstructed Piano Concerto in E minor by Mendelssohn in 2009 won an ECHO Klassik award. Since then, Kirschnereit has recorded mostly for the Berlin Classics and CPO labels; his Brahms recital Frei aber Einsam appeared on CPO in 2017. That year he joined violinist Lena Neudauer for a recording of Mendelssohn's rarely heard Double Concerto in D minor. Kirschnereit lives with his family in Hamburg, where he is an enthusiastic amateur artist.