After first studying at the Nancy Conservatoire, with the help of Messiaen Béroff entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied with Yvonne Loriod and Pierre Sancan, obtaining a premier prix in 1966. The following year he won the Olivier Messiaen Competition and made his debut in Paris. Béroff was already gaining a reputation for the performance of twentieth-century works, particularly of Messiaen, although he began to excel in performances of Debussy, Bartók, Stravinsky and Prokofiev. He has played chamber music with Augustin Dumay and Pierre Amoyal, and worked with conductors including Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Klaus Tennstedt and Giuseppe Sinopoli. Under Pierre Boulez, Béroff played Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Boulez Festival in London and Paris. He has also worked with soprano Barbara Hendricks and cellist Lynn Harrell.
In 1996 Béroff toured Japan, performing Debussy, and the following year worked with The Hague Residentie Orchestra on a project performing the works of Stravinsky. He then gave four recitals of Debussy’s works in Paris, and in 1999 performed with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Kurt Masur before touring with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
A paralysis of one of the fingers on his right hand led Béroff to play many works for the left hand (making an excellent CD of these works for EMI France), and to conduct. In 1988 he began teaching at the University of Bloomington in America, and in 1989 was appointed a professor at the Paris Conservatoire. From 1994 Béroff has taught at the Freiburg Music University.
Some of Béroff’s first recordings were made in 1968 when he was only eighteen: for EMI France he recorded Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps, following it the year after with Vingt regards sur l’Enfant Jésus. In the 1970s Béroff recorded Stravinsky’s works for piano, the complete major solo works of Debussy, and the five piano concertos of Prokofiev with Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. With the same forces Béroff made an unusual foray into the Romantic era and recorded works for piano and orchestra by Franz Liszt. The project included such rarities as Liszt’s Grande Fantaisie symphonique sur des thèmes de Lélio de Berlioz, though Béroff plays it in a dry, rather inflexible manner, using little pedal. More successful are the préludes by Messiaen which Béroff recorded in 1979.
1982 saw the recording of a disc of Bach’s concertos for two keyboards, made with Jean-Philippe Collard. In October 1987 he recorded an interesting disc of works for the left hand that includes Saint-Saëns’s Six Études Op. 135, some Bartók and Scriabin, Bach arranged by Brahms, and seven of Godowsky’s arrangements of Chopin’s études. A year later, Béroff made one disc for Deutsche Grammophon, of the Concerto for Left Hand by Ravel, with Claudio Abbado and the London Symphony Orchestra; and in 1998 Philips issued a recording of Poulenc’s Le Bal masqué, conducted by Seiji Ozawa. Béroff’s most recent recordings have been for Denon, and include the complete works of Debussy.
Béroff is obviously aware of where his strengths lie and has confined himself primarily to twentieth-century music, which suits his style and approach to the keyboard.
Role: Classical Artist