Peter Ritzen was born in the Flemish historic city of Gent in Belgium, Europe. He studied in his native city at the Royal Conservatory of Music, garnering First Prizes in Piano and Chamber music with the highest honors. His teachers were Louis Pas (Piano) and Francois Glorieux (Chamber Music), both renowned professors & performers in Belgium. He continued his studies at the renowned Mozarteum in Salzburg with Tatjana Nikolaijewa (Moscow) and later graduated from the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris “Alfred Cortot” with the ‘Diplôme Supérieure d’ Exécution’ for piano. His teacher in Paris was Marian Ribicky, a famous and respected pedagogue, who has links with the Leschetizky tradition (Ignaz Friedman). In 1981 he became Laureate of the International Piano Competition ‘Young Virtuosos’ and the Prize of the Fund ‘Alex De Vries,’ both held in Antwerp, Flanders.
Equally important to his career as a performing artist, Peter Ritzen is also a composer. His contact with Chinese culture has had a great impact on his creativity. He has conceived a whole repertoire of China-related musical works.
Being a descendent of the ‘Golden’ 19th Century tradition, Peter Ritzen has, besides his brilliant skills as an interpreter, displayed what is today an unparalleled gift for improvisation in classical music. It connects him unmistakably to the great music epochs of the past.
Peter Ritzen has won international praise for his many CD recordings. In breaking new ground, he was the first-ever performer to record (in 1992) a CD of Leschetizky solo works [8.223525], besides the unpublished Leschetizky Piano Concerto [8.223803]; both issued on the internationally renowned NAXOS label. His own compositions were also released for the same label: Piano Concerto ‘The Last Empress [8.223969]’, Chinese Violin Rhapsody and ‘Chinese Requiem’ [8.223980] with the Shanghai Philharmonic. His music was eventually broadcast live on Chinese national television and has won the hearts and praise of millions of Chinese people.
Pianist Ritzen has concertized in the world’s most eminent concert halls: ‘Musikverein’ in Vienna, Salle Gaveau, Paris; Carnegie Hall, New York, and the National Concert Halls of Taipei, Beijing Music Hall an Poly Theater; to name just a few.
In 1991 he founded the International Leschetizky Academy (I.L.A.) at the University of Music in Vienna. In 2000 he became artistic director of the first-ever International Piano Competition Theodor Leschetizky (IPCTL) Taipei. The second edition of IPCTL took place very successfully in June 2004. In June 2005 Ritzen’s Transcendental Symphony ‘Heavenly Peace’ was successfully premiered at the National Concert Hall in Taipei: a large piece for soloists, chorus, organ and grand orchestra including some Chinese traditional instruments.
Peter Ritzen lives and works currently in Vienna, Austria & Beijing, China.