Pianist Elizabeth Sombart has had a varied career that includes concertizing, the creation of a foundation offering free classical music education, and authorship of several books. She is also noted as an educator.
Sombart was born in Strasbourg, France, on May 29, 1958. A child prodigy, she took up the piano at seven and soon after entered the Strasbourg Conservatory, giving her first concert at 11. After taking the conservatory's first prizes in both piano and chamber music, she left France at 16 for international tuition that included stints as a student of Bruno Leonardo Gelber in Buenos Aires, Peter Feuchtwanger in London, and Hilde Langer-Rühl in Vienna. She rounded out her education with ten years of study at the University of Mainz under conductor Sergiu Celibidache, addressing musico-philosophical questions as well as performance. Sombart has performed at leading halls around Europe and the U.S., including the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, and Wigmore Hall in London. She has been a soloist with the Lille National Orchestra (at the Strasbourg Festival), the Bruckner Academy Orchestra in Munich, and the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra of Catalonia. In 1998, Sombart created the Résonnance 2 Foundation, with the intention of bringing classical music to places where it is not normally performed (such as hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and businesses), and also to offer free piano instruction with no age limits or exam needed. Sombart has taught at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) and the Russian Conservatory of Paris Serge-Rachmaninoff. In 2014, she founded the International Study Center for Resonance Pedagogy in Switzerland. She is in demand for master classes.
Sombart recorded for various small labels in France in the 1990s, focusing mostly on the music of the Classical and Romantic periods. She recorded Chopin's piano concertos with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016. In 2020, she launched a series of Beethoven piano concertos with that orchestra for the Signum Classics label. Sombart has written three books, Music at the Heart of Wonder, Words of Harmony, and They Call Me Plume. She was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite for Lifetime Achievement in 2006, and in 2008 achieved the status of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.