Daniel-Ben Pienaar has an international reputation for his unconventional approaches to the German classics of the piano repertoire.

He is one of the few pianists to have recorded all four of the major ‘Viennese’ piano sonata cycles – those by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. He has a uniquely extensive commercial discography of keyboard music pre-Bach played on the piano, including the first complete recording of the keyboard works of Orlando Gibbons, an extensive Byrd-only recording on piano and the first recording on piano of Gaspard Le Roux’s seven Suites.

Daniel-Ben’s recordings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert Sonatas explore how the canonical status of works, reception stereotypes and historic recordings can inflect current practice and open up the possibilities of expressive craft.

His Gibbons, Byrd, Le Roux and Philips projects advocate early music on the piano, moving beyond Historically Informed Performance on modern instruments.

He engages intensively with the recording process itself, both mapping and editing his own work, and collaborating with engineers to explore the aesthetic possibilities of recorded sound in relation to given projects. This outlook maintains an experimental approach, rather than seeking first and foremost to speak to current standardised industry expectations. With his Haydn cycle and second Mozart cycle he has started to work towards commercially viable self-recording (i.e. without an engineer/producer present in the sessions).

Born in South Africa, he studied at the Royal Academy of Music, winning the Queen’s Commendation in 1997. His recital appearances have included cycles or groups of works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin. Over the last 20 years he has been recording that repertoire, exploring the special artistic possibilities that the studio affords.

He is a Professor of the University of London and an elected Fellow of the Academy, as well as Extraordinary Professor of the University of Stellenbosch.

Interpretations where within the letter critically observed, a numinous potency breaks free' Gramophone

'Pienaar responds with an astonishing range of expression and colour' Sunday Times (London)

A veritable Mo Farah of the keyboard’ BBC Music Magazine

One of the most exciting pianists of his generation’ Rondo Magazin (Germany)

One of the most original pianists on the current scene’ AllMusic

Selected Publications

10 most recent recordings (see https://www.avie-records.com/artists/daniel-ben-pienaar/):

Peter Philips – Keyboard Music (the complete Fantasias and Dances, three madrigal intabulations and Sweelinck’s Variations on the 1580 Pavan, to be published 2024)

Gaspard Le Roux – Complete Suites (1705) (first recording on piano, Avie, to be published 2024)

Haydn – 48 Sonatas (all the extant authenticated Sonatas, 8CDs, Avie, 2023)

Byrd – Pavans & Galliards, Variations & Grounds (39 works – the most substantial collection of Byrd on the piano to date, 2CDs, Avie, 2022

The Long 17th Century – A Cornucopia of Early Keyboard Music (36 works, each by a different composer, 2CDs, Avie, 2020)

Arnold Van Wyk (1916-1983) – Complete Mature Piano Music (first complete recording, Africa Open Institute, 2020)

Schubert – Twelve Great Sonatas (the eleven finished Sonatas and the fragment D.840, 5CDs, Avie, 2020)

Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1&2 (4CDs, Avie, 2014)

Beethoven – The 32 Piano Sonatas (10CDs, Avie, 2015)

Beethoven – The Diabelli Variations and Bagatelles, Op.126 (Avie, 2012)


Daniel-Ben supervises doctoral students at the Academy, covering areas such as historical recordings and how we respond to them; why it still may (or may not) make sense to play canonical repertoire now; critiquing current pedagogical and performance practice mores; challenging reception histories; and drawing clear and demonstrable connections between a personal aesthetic/sensibility/identity and matters of technical and expressive craft.