Pianist Frank Braley has fashioned a highly successful career both as a soloist/recitalist and chamber music collaborator. A gifted child who would go on to win the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Competition, Braley has performed with leading conductors, major orchestras, and soloists from around the world.
Braley was born in Corbeil-Essonne, France, in 1968. He studied piano from age four, and while he exhibited rare talent, he initially studied for a career in science. However, at 18 he enrolled at the Paris Conservatory, where he studied piano with Pascal Devoyon and Jacques Rouvier. In 1991, Braley won the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Competition, launching his highly successful career. To say the victory was unexpected would be an understatement: it was the 21-year-old Braley's first international competition. Thereafter, he regularly toured Europe, Asia, and the U.S. In July 2002, Braley debuted with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a performance of the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20, at the Tanglewood Festival with conductor Hans Graf. The following year on September 18, he debuted at Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall) with Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble InterContemporain. During his career, Braley has worked with many notable conductors including Dutoit, Hogwood, Marriner, and Masur. His orchestral appearances include working with orchestras in Berlin, Paris, London, and Rotterdam. In chamber music, he's performed with such distinguished artists as violinist Renaud Capuçon, cellist Gautier Capuçon, clarinetist Pascal Moraguès, among others. Braley has fearlessly lent his support to student performers, not necessarily a career-boosting strategy: in 2007, he toured several French cities giving a series of concerts with the French Youth Orchestra under conductor Jean-Claude Casadesus. Braley's 2010-2011 concert schedule included a tour of London, Singapore, Paris, and other French cities, with Renaud Capuçon, performing the cycle of Beethoven's 10 sonatas for violin and piano. In 2014, Braley was named music director of the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie.
Braley's repertory is varied: while much of it includes a fair number of French works by Saint-Saëns, Ravel, and Poulenc, it also takes in a disparate range of compositions by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and more. He has made numerous recordings for such labels as EMI, Harmonia Mundi, and RCA. Among his most significant early recordings is a 1998 release of Richard Strauss' Op. 5 Sonata and other Strauss piano works, on Harmonia Mundi (reissued in 2008). Another highlight is the 2009 Alpha Productions release of Schumann piano works (Ballszenen and Kinderball, both for piano four-hands), with pianist Eric le Sage. In 2019, Braley recorded an album of Brahms' clarinet sonatas & trio, with Moraguès and Christian Poltéra, on the Indesens label.