Brigitte Engerer was a versatile French pianist often praised for her interpretations of romantic and French repertory and for her collaborations in duo-piano and piano four-hand fare with Boris Berezovsky. Her repertory was broad in all areas, however, taking in works by J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Saint-Saëns, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Gershwin, Poulenc, Schnittke, and many more. She also regularly collaborated with an array of other instrumentalists, including violinists Régis Pasquier and Olivier Charlier, cellist Henri Demarquette, and pianist Oleg Maisenberg. Engerer appeared as a soloist with the major orchestras of Berlin, Paris, London, Montreal, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Tokyo, and with such conductors as Karajan, Barenboim, Mehta, Ozawa, and Rostropovich. She made numerous recordings for several major labels, including Decca, Philips, Naïve, and Harmonia Mundi.
Brigitte Engerer was born in Tunis, Tunisia, on October 27, 1952. She studied piano from age four and gave her first public concert at six. Her progress was astonishing: at 11 she began studies at the Paris Conservatory under Lucette Descaves, winning first prize in piano performance there at 15.
In 1969 she began studies at the Moscow Conservatory, where her most important teacher was Stanislas Neuhaus. Meanwhile, she turned her sights on several of the most prestigious piano competitions: that same year she became a prize winner at the Long-Thibaud Competition in Paris; in 1974, the year she finished her Moscow studies, she tied for sixth prize at the Tchaikovsky International Competition; and in 1978 she captured third prize at the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels.
While she had a reasonably successful career in France during the 1970s, Engerer's international breakthrough came in 1980 when Karajan invited her to play with the Berlin Philharmonic. She was a critical success and returned two years later for the orchestra's centenary celebrations.
Further prestigious concert engagements followed across Europe, the U.K., Canada, U.S., and Japan. Among her earliest acclaimed recordings were her 1982 Philips LP of Tchaikovsky's The Seasons and her Schumann Carnaval and Carnival of Vienna for the same label, which would go on to win the Grand Prix du Disque.
Engerer debuted at Carnegie Hall in 1983, and while her solo career was now thriving, she also managed to mix in a fair number of chamber music concerts. She made regular tours throughout the 1980s and 1990s and, beginning in the late '80s, she turned out a number of successful recordings for Harmonia Mundi, including her 1988 Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition and 1993 two-disc traversal of the Chopin Nocturnes (reissued July 2010).
Engerer remained active on all fronts, making especially high-profile appearances with pianist Boris Berezovsky. Their 2010 tour of France, Spain, and Russia included an acclaimed appearance at the White Nights Festival at the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia. Among Engerer's more popular recordings with Berezovsky is the 2011 CD of Brahms' Hungarian Dances and Liebeslieder Waltzes, for piano four hands, issued on the Mirare label. Brigitte Engerer died of cancer in Paris on June 23, 2012; she was 59 years old.