American-Swiss pianist Katrina Krimsky enjoys a celebrated career that extends across diverse continents and musical genres. Her mother, Stella, an accomplished pianist, was her first teacher from an early age. Later Krimsky attended the Eastman School of Music as the pupil of Cecile Staub Genhart. Upon graduating from Eastman in 1959, she relocated to Washington D.C. where she taught at American University and was active as soloist and founding member of the Ars Nova Trio.
Krimsky’s strong interest in avant-garde music led her to Cologne, Germany in 1964, where she worked closely with prominent European composers Luc Ferrari, Henri Pousseur and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Three years later, she was invited to join the Center for the Creative and Performing Arts at SUNY Buffalo, a major new music hub. She returned to the US and collaborated with such innovative American composers as David Rosenboom, Jon Hassell, David Behrman, and Terry Riley. Krimsky soon drew critical attention as “The Pulse” of Terry Riley’s seminal minimalist work “In C” at its Carnegie Recital Hall debut (1967) and first recording (CBS Records). She reprised her role as “The Pulse” with David Rosenboom's Cal Arts Orchestra at LA’s Disney Hall (2006) and more recently, in a special 45th anniversary concert of “In C” at Carnegie Hall – joining the Kronos Quartet and other minimalist movement luminaries. The New York Times lauded Krimsky’s return as “The Pulse.”
In 1973, Krimsky was appointed to the piano faculty of Mills College and settled in San Francisco. At Mills, she joined a group of renowned musicians that included Terry Riley, Pandit Pran Nath, Robert Ashley, and David Behrman. Once again, Krimsky ventured into uncharted musical territory, appearing as solo pianist at the famed Keystone Korner, the great North Beach jazz club. She forged close friendships with jazz greats vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, saxophonist Joe Henderson, and trumpeter Woody Shaw. Indeed, she was the inspiration for Shaw’s lovely composition, Katrina Ballerina, recorded on his classic 1975 Muse album The Moontrane.
Krimsky’s growing success at jazz festivals and concert halls convinced her to relocate to Europe. In 1980, she left Mills and moved to Switzerland, where she lived with her husband, Hans Siegmann, a noted physicist. For the next two decades, Krimsky concertized extensively in Europe as soloist and with her own trio. She also formed a multicultural ensemble with flutist Lisa Hansen and sitarist Krishna Bhatt, which performed and recorded Krimsky’s original compositions. During this period, she collaborated with several free jazz masters, performed widely with German bassist Peter Kowald, and recorded an album, Stella Malu, with British saxophonist Trevor Watts for ECM. She also released the recordings Ambrosia and Four Moons with the generous support of George Reinhart, and was commissioned by Zurich’s Tage Für Neue Music to compose an ensemble arrangement of Riley’s A Rainbow in Curved Air. A solo version of this work appears on her piano CD Time Over Time.
A frequent guest on the Interpretations Series at New York’s Merkin Hall, Krimsky has given numerous premieres there, including her own compositions: Fluid Silk, and Rhapsody for Two Pianos (co-written with Barbara Higbie at a Djerassi Foundation residency); and of David Rosenboom’s Bell Solaris (composed for Krimsky); and Robert Ashley’s Superior Seven.
Krimsky’s lifelong embrace of innovative musical directions enhances her understanding of the Western Classical tradition and informs her unique musical expression of all types of music. As noted by Time Out (London), “Krimsky has absorbed a staggering volume of musical experience... The listener is seduced by a rapturous lyricism combined with a muscular rhythm determination.”