Folke Gräsbeck studied the piano under Tarmo Huovinen at the Turku Conservatory and won first prize as 17 years old in the Maj Lind Competition in 1973, playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in the final round. He made numerous study visits to London, where he was taught privately by Maria Curcio-Diamand, a pupil of Arthur Schnabel. He has been a senior teacher accompanist at the Sibelius Academy since 1985, and became a Master of Music there in 1997. He held his doctoral disputation in 2008 over the thesis ‘The Piano in Sibelius’s Youth Production’. He has given performances as a recitalist, chamber player and Lied accompanist in many European countries, USA, Japan, Israel, Egypt, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mexico.
Soloist with Orchestra
Folke has performed more than thirty piano concertos as a soloist together with the conductors Mariss Jansons, Okko Kamu, Osmo Vänskä, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Hannu Lintu, Robert Canetti, Paolo Ferrara, Ingo Reihl, Petri Sakari, Timur Mynbajev, Vitaly Katayeff, Ari Rasilainen, Sauli Huhtala, Miklos Erdelyi, Saulius Sondeckis, Vytautas Lukočius, etc. (See the repertoir of the Performed piano concertos).
In Finland he has performed with almost all professional symphony orchestras, including the Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Lahti Sinfonia and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra.
Abroad Folke has performed as a soloist with orchestra in Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, USA, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Israel, Austria, Slovakia.
Folke has performed more than 400 of Sibelius’s c. 600 compositions, and he is one of the main performers of the SIBELIUS EDITION, a collection of 68 CDs released during 2007–2011 by BIS Records. Among his 24 CD-discs in this series (See the full list) he plays Sibelius’s complete piano solo works on 10 CDs, which were commented in the paper Fanfare (US): ‘Sibelius's output for solo piano will likely never again be recorded as comprehensively or as well.’ In addition 52 songs, the piano quintet, the piano quartets, piano trios and repertoir for violin or cello and piano, as well as many works and original transcriptions by Sibelius for choir and piano. These 24 CDs were made during an intense period of recordings during 1996–2010.
During the anniversary Sibelius year of 2015, two separate new CD discs were released:
CD Ainola-01 – Music by Jean Sibelius performed on his own instruments
Lilli Paasikivi, mezzo soprano, Satu Jalas, violin, Folke Gräsbeck, piano
BIS-2132 CD Folke Gräsbeck plays Sibelius on the Ainola Piano (Read more).
The Festival Sibelius i Korpo
The Festival Sibelius in Korpo is arranged annually in the beautiful, outer archipelago of Turku. Some of the unknown pieces by Sibelius have got their World Première Performance at this very festival. Folke Gräsbeck has worked as the artistic director of the event since the start in 2002, and per the festival in 2016, more than 250 of Sibelius’s compositions have been performed there. The main role is given to two major piano trios, that were composed in Korpo during 1886 and 1887 respectively, when Sibelius together with his family spent their Summer vacations there. (Read more).