Johannes Kiem

19th century live

“The pianist Johannes Kiem makes the impossible a reality: Wagnerian Tristan harmony at the pianistic level of Liszt’s B minor sonata – live, composed in real time…”

Prof. Dr. Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf

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Vivaldi, The Four Seasons

Improvisations with the compositional techniques of Romanticism and early Modernism.
Selected motifs are transferred from the Baroque to the 19th century.

With energy and powerful imagination (Johannes Kiem) contrasted Vivaldi’s seasons in excellent interpretations. In a great way, Kiem understood how to combine bombastic and lyrical phrases, pathos and tenderness in a complex context.
—Badische Zeitung, 3 June 2019


HAYDN 1859

Prof. Sophia Jaffé, Violine – Prof. Susanne Stoodt, Violine – Prof. Roland Glassl, Viola – Clara Holdenried, Viola – Jan Ickert, Cello

The task was to interpret the “Largo. Cantabile e mesto” from the Haydn string quartet op. 76/5 using the aesthetics of Richard Wagner’s Tristan. I freely worked with models derived from my view on the first 17 bars of the Tristan prelude.
Recorded at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts.

Preludes Based on Pictures and Paintings

Composed live

September 3rd 2016 | Kunsthaus Zürich

Franz Liszt, Sergei Rachmaninov or Modest Mussorgsky wrote character pieces based on motifs and pictures. The pianist and composer Johannes Kiem shows live how such compositional developments come about…

Johannes Kiem

19th century live

The pianist Johannes Kiem develops an avant-garde in the concert hall that comes from historical sources. It is an avant-garde because Johannes Kiem does not play works from the repertoire, but rather composes in the presence of his audience. It is an avant-garde because Johannes Kiem succeeds in establishing a connection between today and the 19th century – the period in which early musical expressionism followed Late Romanticism. Jazz themes, for example, can develop into a polonaise or other piano work in concert, into music that could have been written in the late 19th or early 20th century. With his compositions, Johannes Kiem performs a leap in time whose unbelievable effect is matched only by the completely natural way the sounds emerge.

There is general agreement in the music world on the source from which Johannes Kiem draws his music – it is the world of Chopin, Liszt, Scriabin and Wagner. What remains uncertain is how exactly new music comes about in his virtuosic playing, which is valued equally by audiences, musicologists and music critics, and has lasting compositional value.


Johannes Kiem’s piano playing… is a stroke of genius


Johannes Kiem amazes [the audience] with his own overture that transforms Strauss’ waltzing theme into a deeply serious and highly dramatic piano concerto.

Frankfurter Rundschau

…Johannes Kiem, a pianist known far beyond Frankfurt for his unique brand of concerts.


…a pianist as a ‘real-time’ composer.



Prof. Dr. Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf

Johannes Kiem’s Recreative Piano World

The pianist Johannes Kiem makes the impossible a reality: Wagnerian ‘Tristan harmony’ at the pianistic level of Liszt’s B minor sonata – live, composed in real time using themes called out by the audience … read more

Prof. Dr. Frauke Grimmer

Johannes Kiem – Portrait of the concerts at the Frankfurt Opera

The creative work of the Frankfurt artist Johannes Kiem (b.1976 in Freiburg) is singular, and his development as a musician astounding. The biographical and aesthetic process was shaped … read more

2015: 12 Preludes based on Pictures and Paintings

Charity Concert for the Kunstverein Familie Montez, Frankfurt am Main

The audience had been given the opportunity to send in a picture or painting by e-mail. Twelve images were chosen at random and turned into music in concert.

About the programme / more Preludes

2013: ‘World Opera House of the Year’ – soloist in the season finale

Johannes Kiem is performing as a soloist in the season finale at the Frankfurt Opera, which has been made World Opera House of the Year. In 2013, the meaningful Wagner and Verdi year, Johannas Kiem will be composing live in two concerts: Verdi arias with Wagnerian harmony and the pianism of Franz Liszt. A previously unheard-of triad.

2011: Musik & Gegenwart 33 (‘Real-Time Composition’)

Concert and Workshop at the Leipzig Academy of Music and Theatre

On 8 November 2011, as part of the series ‘Musik und Gegenwart’ [Music and the Present Day], Johannes Kiem will be giving a concert at the Leipzig Academy of Music and Theatre ‘Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’ with the title ‘Real-Time Composition’, followed the next day by a workshop for the composition class.
The composition class will play a highly active part in the concert: as a questioning and simultaneously demanding audience. Johannes Kiem will compose using themes called out by the participants.
Examples of assignments: ‘a repetition’, or ‘play a piece based on the note E flat. The note E flat has to appear all the time and in every chord’.

2010 – 2015: Romanfabrik Frankfurt

Johannes Kiem gave six concerts at the Romanfabrik in Frankfurt in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015. Highlights: in 2012, a recital in anticipation of the Wagner year 2013, and in 2014 an evening with Bruno Klimek and Dr Norbert Abels, then the same year ‘Parsifal’s Bells of Prometheus’. Wagner’s significance for modernity, composed live.

2010: Night Concerts at the Naxos-Halle, Frankfurt

2009: Solo Recital ‘The Classical Side of Jazz’

Naxos Halle Frankfurt

For his concert ‘The Classical Side of Jazz’ at the Naxos-Halle in Frankfurt, Johannes Kiem will immerse famous jazz pieces in the world of the 19th century. The aim was to show where many aspects of jazz harmony come from, as well as many of its forms of motion (aside from blues and African-based rhythms).


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