Makoto Ueno (Japan)

This special piano has known all the Western music history, and has seen so many great composers and musicians in the past two Centuries throughout. That is the Bösendorfer’s unique worth. I am delighted and thankful that Bösendorfer exists to this day.

 When I play a Bösendorfer, I see and hear the accumulation and epitome of the Central European Culture in the last 200 years.

I am always looking for a special voice, and sounds which not only enable me to rediscover the musical ideas which composers had in their minds.

This special piano has known all the Western music history, and has seen so many great composers and musicians in the past two Centuries throughout. That is the Bösendorfer’s unique worth.  I am delighted and thankful that Bösendorfer exists to this day.

I have been playing Bösendorfer since my student days, for about 35 years.  I finally understood the aesthetics of this beautiful piano only after playing many original fortepianos of the 19th Century masters such as Streicher, Broadwood, Stein, Erard, Pleyel, and of course, Bösendorfer!

 In this age of efficiency in all areas, and in a time the world is moving so fast, it is extremely rare to find a piano which dares to put so much time and care to produce.  It is made with the philosophy, very different from many pianos in production today.  And I cherish that human quality.

Each Bösendorfer Imperial 290 has a strong personality of its own. Very original.  No imitation.  Historic but modern.  I am grateful that this unique instrument exists and continues to give us pianists the pleasure to find a wide, unique spectrum of sounds which one can not find elsewhere. 

Bösendorfer 225 is one of the most well-balanced piano.  I had wonderful experiences with it, for example, playing a solo recital in a medium-sized concert hall. And it suits very well with the string instruments in chamber music as well.


Makoto Ueno was born in a family of musicians in 1966 in Muroran, Japan. His grandmother and father were both organists in a local protestant church, and they exerted the first musical influences on him. 

He left his home town at the age of 16, to study in the West, first at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he became one of the last six students of Jorge Bolet, then continued at Mozarteum Salzburg with Hans Leygraf.  In his formative years, Ueno also received instructions and suggestions from such diverse artists as Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Gary Graffman, Edward Aldwell, Felix Galimir, Leon Fleisher, Rosalyn Tureck, Andrzej Jasinski, Radoslav Kvapil, Jacob Lateiner, Ruth Laredo, Seymour Lipkin among others.

In addition, the writings and musical thoughts of Heinrich Schenker, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Artur Schnabel, Edwin Fischer, Sergiu Celibidache, Alfred Brendel, and Glenn Gould, though they are immensely different from each other, influenced him in his early years.

He was a prize-winner at various international competitions such as Maryland(1985),  Bösendorfer=Empire(Prix Alex de Vries/Prix. EMS)(Brussels/1986), Geneva(1988), Orléans(Prix Maurice Ohana/ Prix Nadia et Lili Boulanger/Prix Ricardo Viñes)(2002).

In Japan, he was a recipient of the Kyoto City Prize for New Artists, and of the Aoyama Barocksaal Prize, in 2005.  In the same year, he also won the Second Prize at the 1st Sviatoslav Richter International Piano Competition in Moscow(2005).

He has played solo and concerto concerts in 15 countries, in Asia, Europe, and American Continent, and also played chamber music often with renowned string players, woodwind players, brass players and singers.

In 2018 in 2019, a project of performing the complete Violin Sonatas, Cello Sonatas and Variations for Cello and Piano of Beethoven, using the 19th Century instruments such as Mattaeus Stein(attrib.), Broadwood, Graf, Schweighofer and Streicher, with violinist Yasushi Toyoshima, and with cellist Noboru Kamimura, was successfully completed to critical acclaim.

Although Ueno usually plays modern concert grand pianos, he is equally at home with historical instruments. He often performs on Viennese and British fortepianos from 1800~1850, and on Bösendorfer, Streicher, Erard, and Pleyel pianos of 1840~1930.

Ueno has been very active in the field of CD recordings in recent years, especially using original instruments of the 19th Century and early 20th Century. Many CD recordings have been released by Octavia Records, Wakabayashi Koubou, Naxos, Myou-on-sha labels.

His solo CD releases include a disc of Liszt 12 Transcendental Etudes(2004), Debussy and Bartók Etudes(2006), Beethoven Sonatas(2011) with a Broadwood fortepiano made in 1816 and a Mattaeus Stein(attrib.) fortepiano made in 1820, Chopin Sonatas (2013) with a Pleyel made in 1846 and an Erard made in 1852, a recording of Rachmaninoff and Debussy(2013), played on an American Steinway made in 1925, an album of Liszt works(2014) with an Erard made in 1852, a disc dedicated to the works of Wagner=Liszt, Debussy, Scriabin, Schoenberg, and Ravel(2016), played on a historic Bechstein E270 made in 1906, a recording of Debussy and Ravel(2017), with a special Erard with extended 90 keys made in 1927, and a Brahms recording(2019), with a Streicher made in 1846 and a Bösendorfer made in 1903. The most recent solo CD recording is Chopin Complete Etudes(2021), played on a Fazioli F-308.

On Naxos label, several chamber music recordings by Moscheles(2014), Czerny(2015), Beethoven(2018), and Weber(2019), all playing on Bösendorfer Imperial 290, with flutist Kazunori Seo have been released.

A disc of Schumann Lieder composed in 1840, playing on a Bechstein EN280 was also released in 2018. An album of Brahms Viola Sonatas with violist Hiroshi Narita, with Streicher piano made in 1861 was released in 2020.

The future releases in Europe and Japan include a 2-CD set dedicated to the works for violin and piano and piano solo by C. Franck(Virtus label 2022), and recordings of solo works by R. Schumann(2022) with a Streicher piano made in 1860.

Since 1996, he has been teaching as a professor of piano at Kyoto University of Arts. In addition to his teaching at other Japanese universities and institutions, such as Nagoya University of Music, he has served as a jury in major piano competitions in Japan and Europe, and written articles and essays for various Japanese music magazines. The most recent article was about a manuscript of Franz Liszt, published in November 2018. 

He has given masterclasses in Korea, Thailand, Germany, Turkey, and especially Portugal, where he has taught regularly at Coimbra World Piano Meeting.