Leif Ove Andsnes is Norway's foremost pianist. His repertoire is large; with the music of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg as a touchstone, it has been centered on the core Romantic piano repertory but has extended back to Mozart and forward into the 20th century. A world favorite among buyers of recordings, he has issued a large catalog of albums on the Virgin Classics, EMI, Warner Classics, and Sony Classical labels, among others.
Andsnes was born in the small city of Karmøy, in southwestern Norway, on April 7, 1970. As a child he loved to play Grieg's music, and in 1986 he entered the Bergen Conservatory, studying with Jiri Hlinka. A year later he gave his debut recital in Oslo, winning the Hindemith Prize that same year. His international career wasn't long in coming: he performed at the Edinburgh Festival with the Oslo Philharmonic in 1989 and made his U.S. debut with the Cleveland Orchestra, under Neeme Järvi, in 1990. The 1990s decade saw Andsnes perform with most of the world's major orchestras and at top venues including not only the BBC Proms and New York's Carnegie Hall, but also a New York City Apple store. He toured with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Oslo Philharmonic, and the Danish Radio Orchestra. He has also played chamber music with Christian and Tanya Tetzlaff, and in 1991 he founded his own Risør Festival of Chamber Music in Norway, remaining its director until 2010. An admirer of Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti, Andsnes has cultivated a style with the same kind of limpid sparkle.
Particularly significant has been Andsnes' career as a recording artist, which has been greeted with almost universal critical acclaim. His recording catalog began as accompanist to cellist Truls Mørk in music by Chopin and Schumann on Norway's Simax label in 1990. The following year he moved to Virgin Classics, and in the late 1990s to EMI. Many of his albums began to appear on the Warner Classics label in the mid-2000s decade, and in 2012 (a year in which he notched five major-label releases) he was signed to Sony Classical and began a Beethoven Journey series of Beethoven's piano concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Andsnes from the keyboard. In 2018 Andsnes released an album of Chopin ballades and nocturnes on Sony. Andsnes has been nominated for several Grammy Awards, including in 2019, for an album of Schumann's lieder with Matthias Goerne.