It was for the first time this May that 31-year-old Hungarian pianist Peter Bence performed in a major concert in Budapest. A real virtuoso, he sometimes plays his piano as drums or guitar. "With his unique technique, he has taken piano playing to a new level, making a great impact on new generations of musicians and music-loving audiences," according to music critics.
Peter Bence is a worldwide piano sensation, composer, and music producer who has taken the Internet by storm with his unique piano arrangements, collecting over 1.2 billion video hits and a fanbase of millions over the course of a mere five years, attracting comments like people wondering how “someone can show such artistry, flair and sheer invention on the piano,” calling him ‘genius’ and ‘virtuoso’. He was also awarded a Guinness World Record for being the ‘Fastest Piano Player’ and has been often referred to as a musician who not only revolutionizes the way piano is played, but continues to influence new generations of pianists and musicians to come.
A prodigy from early age
He recalled to Diplomacy&Trade before the Budapest concert that his musical journey began at a very young age, when he stumbled upon a piano at his grandparents' home. “As if by instinct, I began playing back melodies from my favorite cartoons, catching the attention of my family soon enough. From that moment on, I knew that music would always be an integral part of my life.” He adde that in his early childhood, he was more into the intricacies of classical piano, “but as I matured, I found myself drawn to the creative possibilities that lay beyond the strict confines of classical music, so, interestingly, I went from the nerdy classical piano student to more of a composer for a wide variety of genres today.”
With such serious interest and talent, it was now wonder that he received musical education from an early age. He was just four years old when he started in the local music school of his hometown, Hajdúböszörmény in NE Hungary. With respect to his later career, that gave him, as he put it, a solid classical foundation, the technicality of piano performance, but also the harmonic and melodic language that forms the backbone of modern and popular music. “While I love to explore new sounds and push boundaries, my classical training is always present, providing a strong foundation upon which to build my musical creations.”
From Hungary to Massachusetts
At the age of seven, he wrote his first composition, which was heavily influenced by the music of Mozart and Chopin, and at 11, he published his first solo piano album of his early compositions. In his teens, he started to show great interest in movie soundtracks, especially the music of John Williams, which has opened up a new world for him and made him further explore himself musically.
After his training in classical piano and composition in Hungary, he continued his studies at the world’s largest independent college of contemporary music, the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States, as a film scoring and piano major, where he would absorb a wide spectrum of musical genres, many of which contribute to his style today.
As it turned out, it was easier to get into Berklee than completing the course there – and it was not his talent that was lacking… “I knew that if there was one place I could further my passion for film and contemporary music that would be at Berklee. To make this dream a reality, I knew I had to do everything in my power to get admitted with a scholarship as my family would not have been able to finance it otherwise. I carefully selected some of my original compositions and a Bartók piece for the audition, and a year later, I found myself studying from the best at Berklee,” he recalled.
Inspired by Michael Jackson
His admittance to Berklee happened to be in the year following the death of Michael Jackson in whom Peter Bence found the biggest influence. He said that “at that time, I would often find myself in a deep rabbit hole of watching countless performances and clips of Michael, and there was something unexplainably genius, a talent that shined so bright, it gave me so much inspiration for my performance and also for making an arrangement effective and focusing more on the rhythmic aspects of a song, which ultimately is the skeleton of music.”
A sensation on YouTube and in concert halls
Peter Bence began uploading videos to YouTube while at Berklee and in 2015, he quickly rose to fame with his arrangement of Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’, collecting a whopping ten million hits over just a few days, becoming a massive viral sensation. Now, he has over 1,200+ million accumulative video views on YouTube and Facebook combined. His performances attract comments like “Pure genius. You can tell he puts all of his energy into what he truly loves and the result is nothing short of spectacular” or “Your passion and love of your craft shines through at all times. So rare in our musical industry these days.”
In the past four years, he has performed sold out shows in over 40 countries, including the Sydney Opera House, the Lotte Concert Hall in Seoul, the Stadthalle in Vienna or Victoria Hall in Geneva. He opened BBC’s ‘Proms In The Park 2017’, in Hyde Park, London for 50,000 people. In 2020, his album ‘The Awesome Piano’ – debuted on the Steinway & Sons label – immediately charted #1 on iTunes in multiple countries and #11 on Billboard (worldwide).
A world record for fun
Great hand speed in case of piano virtuosos is not uncommon but very few of them are inscribed in the Guinness Book of Records. In January 2012, the Hungarian virtuoso attained the Guinness World Record for the “most piano key hits in one minute” with 765 key hits. He noted that he would often get picked on for his tendency to play a piece faster than they were meant to be played, “and since speed was always natural for me, my peers and teachers suggested I should break this Guinness record. I only did it for fun. It’s not something I’m particularly happy about.”
Playing the essence of everything
Peter Bence is often described as someone who breaks down the barriers between classical and pop music. He takes the piano to a whole new level, turning the instrument into a full orchestra, which inspires both younger and older generations of musicians and music lovers from everywhere around the world. As to what the Budapest audience could expect from him, the pianist promised that he would be “playing the essence of everything my audience might be already familiar with, the popular arrangements, the looping, with the unorthodox piano usage here and there to some of my originals and pieces that are not published yet. And who knows, there might even be a premiere of a brand-new piece that I'm excited to share with the audience…”
No comment yet. Be the first!
Top 5 Articles
Articles by Date
- ►2023 (1128)
- ►2022 (1249)
- ►2021 (941)
- ►2020 (899)
- ►2019 (237)
- ►2018 (161)
- ►2017 (310)
- ►2016 (279)
- ►2015 (324)
- ►2014 (229)
- ►2013 (233)
- ►2012 (250)
- ►2011 (303)
- ►2010 (167)
- ►2009 (43)
- ►2008 (3)