In 1974 the Daily Telegraph,
London, already characterised Håkon Austbø as the "possessor of towering
talent worthy of international recognition". Since then, critics from the
Carnegie Hall, New York, to the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, have given this
extraordinary artist rave reviews. Due to his unusual versatility and the
originality of his repertoire, Håkon Austbø has won a coveted position in
today's world of music.
Of Norwegian origin, Mr. Austbø performed extensively in his homeland before continuing his studies at the Paris Conservatoire and the Ecole Normale de Musique. In 1970 he was the first non-French to win the "Concours National de la Guilde Française des Artistes Solistes" in Paris, and in 1971 he gained international attention when an unanimous jury awarded him the first prize of the Olivier Messiaen Competition for Contemporary Music in Royan, France.
Håkon Austbø furthered his studies at the Juilliard School, New York, at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Munich, and in London. He was prize winner of the international Munich competition (in piano duo with Marina Horak, 1974), of the Ravel Competition in Paris (1975), and, as a member of Trio du Nord, of the UNESCO International Rostrum, Bratislava (1975).
Based in the Netherlands for more than 30 years, Mr. Austbø has recently returned to his native country and continues enjoying an extensive solo career throughout Europe, America and Asia. His recordings for various labels have received international acclaim. In the CD field, he brought out excerpts from Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux on Fidelio and the 10 Skryabin sonatas on SIMAX. The latter was acclaimed as a reference recording by Gramophone Magazine and received the Norwegian Grammy award in 1990. Two years later Mr. Austbø received the same award for another SIMAX recording with the Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk, and again in 1995 for Messiaen'sVingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus. This recording, part of a NAXOS project including the complete Messiaen piano music, was also chosen by Classic CD as the best available version of the work. The next item in this project, the complete Catalogue d'Oiseaux coupled with Petites Esquisses d'Oiseaux, was awarded the Edison prize 1998 for the best solo recording. The cycle is now complete, grouping the rest of the piano works on two single CD's.
Mr Austbø's discography further includes a Schumann recording for Vanguard Classics and the Norse melodrama EddaDa with the actress Juni Dahr, works by Satie, Janacek and Brahms as well as the complete songs by Messiaen with soprano Ingrid Kappelle on Brilliant Classics. Recently, he recorded the complete solo works of both Debussy and Grieg, Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotiques and Visions de l’Amen and the albums Norwegian Imperatives and Wanted.
Mr. Austbø received the prize of the Norwegian music critics in 1989 and was chosen "Performer of the Year" in Norway in 1992. In 2003 he received the prestigious Grieg prize. As a propagator or Skryabin's work, he was the initiator and artistic director of the LUCE-project that offers a unique realisation of the colour part in the symphonic poem Prometheus. He is now conducting a research project aimed at visualizing the works of Messiaen.