Jeremy Denk launches 2024 Great Artists Series

Acclaimed pianist to perform Bach’s complete Partitas Feb. 4

Jeremy Denk pauses at a piano. (Photo: Michael Wilson)

Jeremy Denk, a pianist of “delicacy and wit” (Bachtrack) who plays with “utmost control but also the freedom of an improvisation” (The Guardian), will launch the 2024 Great Artists Series at Washington University in St. Louis Feb. 4 with the complete Partitas of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

Originally published between 1726 and 1730, the six Partitas (BWV 825-830) are among the most accomplished and technically demanding works of Bach’s long career. Though built on the traditional Baroque dance sequence, Bach’s Partitas are at once heroically scaled and structurally distinct, combing elements of the then-prevalent French style with the Italian influences that would shape his later compositions.

Indeed, in 1731, Bach would dub the Partitas, which he collected under the title “Clavier-Übung (Keyboard Practice),” as his Opus I.

About Jeremy Denk

One of the nation’s foremost contemporary pianists, Denk is a bestselling author, winner of both the MacArthur “genius grant” fellowship and the Avery Fisher Prize, and a musician “you want to hear no matter what he performs” (The New York Times).

Denk’s recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations reached No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Charts. His recording of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111, was selected by BBC Radio 3 as the best available version recorded on modern piano and — paired with György Ligeti’s “Études” — named one of the year’s best discs by The New Yorker, National Public Radio and The Washington Post.

Denk’s album of Mozart piano concertos, released in 2021, was deemed “urgent and essential” by BBC Radio 3. The Guardian hailed his memoir “Every Good Boy Does Fine” (2022) as “an elegant, frank and well-structured memoir that entirely resists cliche. A rare feat … it makes the reader care about Denk beyond his talent for playing the piano.”

Read a full biography.

Great Artists Series

Presented by the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, the Great Artists Series hosts intimate recitals with some of the brightest stars on the contemporary concert stage. Following Denk, the series will continue Feb. 19 with The Doos Trio, a world music supergroup featuring Kayhan Kalhor, Wu Man and Sandeep Das, all Grammy nominees and members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble.

On March 3, Baroque orchestra Tafelmusik will present “Passions Revealed,” a program led by acclaimed violinist Aisslinn Nosky. On March 24, pianist Joyce Yang will perform works by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. The series will conclude April 28 with legendary soprano Christine Goerke, accompanied by pianist Craig Terry, in a “Celebration of the American Diva.”

Denk (Photo: Josh Goleman)

Tickets and related events

Denk’s performance will begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 4 in WashU’s E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall. Tickets are $40, or $37 for WashU faculty and staff, and $15 for students and children. The E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall is located in the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave., at the intersection with Delmar Boulevard. Tickets are available through the Washington University Box Office or by calling 314-935-6543. For more information, visit

In addition, at noon Feb. 5, Denk will discuss his memoir, “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” with Todd Decker, the Paul Tietjens Professor of Music in Arts & Sciences. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required. Learn more and RSVP here.

The Great Artists Series is made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. Additional support for Denk’s performance is provided by David and Melanie Alpers and the Center for Literary Arts.