Barbara Nissman is best known for her performances of the piano music of Sergey Prokofiev and Alberto Ginastera. She has written extensively about Prokofiev's works, conducted master classes and given lectures on them, and in 1989, was the first to perform a complete cycle of the sonatas in a three-recital series in both New York and London. Nissman has also lavished attention on Ginastera, who dedicated his final work, the Third Piano Sonata, to her. Nissman has also performed works by Liszt, Rachmaninov, Bartók, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and many others. She has concertized throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand, and appeared as soloist with the major orchestras of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, with many leading European orchestras, and with several major conductors, including Ormandy, Muti, Skrowaczewski, and Slatkin. Nissman was host of a 16-week BBC television series entitled Barbara and Friends, which also appeared on American public television stations. She has made numerous recordings, most of them originally issued on the Pierian label and reissued on Nissman’s own label, Three Oranges Recordings.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, on December 31, 1944, she studied music at the University of Michigan and with György Sándor. Nissman met Ginastera in 1971 when she was performing his First Piano Concerto at UM's contemporary music festival. That year she also went on a Eugene Ormandy-sponsored concert tour of Europe, and then debuted with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Thor Johnson in Ann Arbor, MI, with the Rachmaninov Paganini Rhapsody. She then appeared with Ormandy and toured with the Orchestra the following season.
In 1976, at the invitation of Ginastera, Nissman performed his First Piano Concerto with L'orchestre de la Suisse Romande at his 60th birthday celebrations in Geneva. She would soon turn to Prokofiev, a composer whose music she knew from her student years. From the 1980s, she has been among his most ardent advocates. In 1988 she recorded all the sonatas and other piano works for Newport Classic, which issued the recordings in 1989 to general acclaim. During the 1991-1992 season, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Prokofiev's birth, Nissman again performed cycles of the composer's sonatas throughout the U.S. and Europe. In 1998, she was invited to present recitals and master classes on Prokofiev by both the Moscow and St. Petersburg conservatories, and in 2015, she was the featured performer at the dedication of the Prokofiev Archive at Columbia University with members of the Prokofiev family in attendance.
-- Biography adapted from a posted version by Rovi Staff
-- Names which are links refer to my interviews elsewhere on my website. BD
© 1990 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in Chicago on October 12, 1990. Portions were broadcast on WNIB a couple of weeks later, and again in 1994 and 2000. This transcription was made in 2017, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.