Ms. Kei Itoh is the first Japanese to have ever won the first prize at the 1983 Munich International Piano Competition. She began studies on the piano from childhood under Ms. Kazuo Ariga. Graduating in 1977 from Tokyo’s renowned Toho Gakuen High School, she pursued her further studies in Europe at Salzburg’s Mozarteum Conservatory and under Hans Leygraf at the Hannover Conservatory.
Her Munich debut with the Bayerische Staatsoper Orchestra under the baton of Wolfgang Sawallisch led to subsequent engagements in Europe with the Frankfurter Rundfunk Orchestra, Südwestfunk Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra and Warsaw Philharmonic, and Ms. Itoh now performs regularly in Europe with orchestras such as the Czech Philharmonic, as well as with all the major Japanese orchestras: NHK Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra etc.
In constant demand as a recitalist, Kei Itoh is known as a particularly fine interpreter of the romantic composers as well as the French repertoire. She recently has completed an 8-year series of annual concerts devoted to the music of Schumann. Starting from 2008, she is going to give recitals concentrated in Schubert’s works.
A prolific recording artist, Ms. Itoh has released thirteen CDs of music by Schumann in a series entitled Schumanniana on the Fontec label. Other CDs on the same label include two recordings of Brahms Concerto No. 1, a recording Brahms Concerto No. 2 and Ravel’s Concerto in G major, the Chopin Études, a collection of music by Poulenc, a CD featuring works by Chopin, Debussy, Ravel, among others.
A keen chamber musician, Ms. Itoh often partners violinists Tsugio Tokunaga, with whom she has recorded the complete Beethoven and Brahms sonatas, and Tomoko Kato, with whom she released a CD of sonatas by French composers.
Ms. Itoh is a regular guest performer in NHK television’s Meikyoku Classics (Well-known Classics) series, and her engaging personality made her a popular radio host on the much-loved NHK programme O-shaberi Classics (Classic Chat), introducing classical music in a relaxed manner.
In 1993 she was awarded the 19th Annual award of the Japan Chopin Association and a year later received the Cultural Arts Support Award of the City of Yokohama in recognition of her services to classical music.
Since 2003, she has been engaged as Professor at Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku.