About Xi Zhai
Xi Zhai’s playing is characterised by the deepest musical sensitivity, exceptional and cultivated pianistic touch and a masterful technique, which, however, never becomes an end in itself, but is placed entirely at the service of exploring the musical content.
His extensive repertoire ranges from masters of the Baroque to the Classical and Romantic periods all the way to modern works. His repertoire for piano and orchestra includes all the piano concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Chopin, as well as works by Haydn, Schumann, Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich and other composers.
Two artistic personalities had an especially formative effect on his musical development: on the one hand Fou Ts’ong, a proponent of the Chopin school, and on the other hand Joachim Volkmann, who belongs to the German school of Wilhelm Kempff.
Xi Zhai was born into a family of musicians in the Chinese province of Shanxi. He started playing the piano at the age of six and began lessons with the well-known piano teacher Dachun You in Shanghai in 2001. After completing his studies with Zhe Tang at the Shanghai Music Academy in 2009, Xi Zhai moved to Germany, where he pursued studies in Joachim Volkmann’s master class at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, and in February 2015 earned a solo piano performance degree with distinction. He also gained valuable impetus attending master classes given by Elisabeth Leonskaja, Sir Andras Schiff, Paul Badura-Skoda, Michel Beroff and Robert D. Levin.
Xi Zhai has performed in some of the most renowned concert halls, including the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt and the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg. His career as a solo and chamber music artist has taken him to international music festivals such as the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival, the Kronberg Academy Festival, the Musiktage am Rhein in Schloss Engers, and the Algarve International Piano Festival.
In addition to giving piano recitals, he has also appeared as a soloist with many different orchestras and conductors in China, Portugal, Italy and Germany. He considers collaborating with Christoph Eschenbach, with whom he recorded Paul Hindemith’s Kammermusik No. 1, particularly notable. Xi Zhai has been a faculty member of Frankfurt’s University of Music and Performing Arts and the School of Music at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz since April 2018. He has also been a lecturer at Dr. Hoch’s Konservatorium in Frankfurt am Main since 2021.