Ingolf Wunder, born in Austria on Sept. 8th, 1985, started to show the first signs of musicality as a two-year-old: always, as soon as he heard orchestral music, he was passionately conducting it. It continued until the age of four, when he began his ten-year-adventure with the violin. Playing this instrument though was rather a hobby. He never intended to become a violinist. At the same time he was developing his talent in sports and interests in technology and computer science.
Start of piano
Around 14 years of age his talent for the piano was coincidentally discovered by a teacher from Linz, Horst Matthaeus. Wunder gave up violin after 10 years of playing, left the Music Conservatory Klagenfurt and began intensive piano studies at the Music Conservatory Linz, under Prof. Matthaeus. That was the moment when he fell in love with art and decided to dedicate himself fully to piano.
While many beginners would have started with easier repertory, Wunder pursued his inner fire for Liszt’s works and encouraged by his teacher’s made- to-measure teaching methods, he let the music of the Hungarian composer shape his technique. Living in his own world and far from the usual paths a young musician commonly takes, he was allowed to experiment in order to nourish his individuality and to find his genuine musical identity. As for his artistic taste, he formed it through the legacy left by artists from the generations of Schnabel, Friedman, Rubinstein and Horowitz.
A few months after switching to piano Wunder participated in his first youth competition and won the 1st Prize (VII Concorso Internazionale di Musica, Cortemillia, Italy). Soon after came the 1st Prizes at the XVI European Music Competition in Torino, the 63. Steinway Piano Competition in Hamburg and a few more. About one year after changing the instrument he made his debut at the Konzerthaus Vienna, playing Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz and one of Debussy’s Preludes in a renowned youth cycle. In 2001, at the age of 16, he did not only play already the full set of Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes in concert but also he was awarded the Liszt Prize at the 36. International Franz Liszt Competition in Budapest (Hungary). In 2003, after Wunder had been accidentally heard practicing by Emmanuel Krivine, he was invited by the conductor to perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris with the Orchestre National de France. He continued his piano studies at the Music University in Vienna and in order to evolve artistically he travelled throughout Europe to get the right inputs from great pianists as often as possible, first and foremost Idil Biret.
After a brief but difficult period of doubts that made him think of giving up the aspiration to pursue a pianistic career and going into computer science instead, in 2008 Wunder started a collaboration with Adam Harasiewicz, a Polish pianist and the winner of the 1955 International Chopin Piano Competition. A year later Wunder decided to participate in a piano competition for the very last time, regardless the results.
The 2010 International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw brought uproar, recognition, the 2nd Prize, the Prize for the Best Concerto, the Prize for the Best Polonaise Fantaisie, the Public Prize and many devoted listeners around the world. By many Wunder was considered the real winner of the competition. Many talked about the biggest competition scandal since Pogorelich case in 1980.
Focus on music
Next to playing concerts and touring, he undertook conducting studies to widen his musical horizons. He obtained his diploma in the end of 2012, but it wasn’t until 2019 when he started to appear in concerts in a double-role: pianist and conductor, conducting piano concerti as well as symphonies.
He recorded several CDs for Deutsche Grammophon, he performed in Europe, Asia and both Americas, including such halls as . He recorded several albums for Deutsche Grammophon, he performed in Europe, Asia and both Americas, including such prestigious halls as Musikverein Vienna, Carnegie Hall (NYC), Berlin Philharmonie, Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), Tonhalle Zurich, Rudolfinum (Prague), Stuttgart Liederhalle, Moscow Conservatory, Mariinsky Theater (St. Petersburg), Suntory Hall (Tokyo), LOTTE Concert Hall in Seoul, National Concert Hall in Taipei and many more.
Sense of mission & entrepreneurship
Next to his stage career, Wunder is actively supporting artistic education. In 2017, Ingolf Wunder and his wife Paulina launched APPASSIO – the first in this form real-time online teaching platform exclusively for all fields of arts, dedicated to teachers, students and art lovers. In June 2020, they launched a daughter-platform dedicated to artistic institutions APPASSIMO. Wunder also occasionally appears as a public speaker focusing on the importance of human creativity and music education in the world of AI and singularity. He gave speeches at events such as: United Nations’ IGF, SDG Lab at the Davos World Economic Forum, the biggest education summit ASU+GSV in San Diego, TED Talk etc. He is engaged as well in actions for the United Nation’s SDG4 (Quality Education).
Passion is a keyword in Wunder’s life. Brought to the piano by passion and his own will, playing only repertoire that he feels passionate about, passionately admiring Romanticism and Impressionism in fine arts and passionately discovering new cuisines and tastes. He believes that an artist can only stay true to himself if whatever he does, he does it with full conviction and passion or not at all, and if he sticks to his personal beliefs. Even if it means taking risky challenges.