The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust
The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust
Supporting the Arts in Australia by Australians and for Australians since 1954.

Gerard Willems

Queen Elizabeth II Scholar

Gerard Willems Queen Elizabeth II Scholar

Gerard Willems was born in 1946 in Holland. He toured as chorister throughout Holland, Belgium and France whilst he received his first piano lessons on scholarship at the Brabant Conservatorium. He moved to Australia with his family in 1958 and on graduating from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music he returned to Europe. He continued his piano studies and conducting studies in Amsterdam and Munich, where he studied amongst others with the pedagogue Greville Rothon, the assistant to Claudio Arrau. Presently Gerard Willems is Associate Professor in Piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. In 2008 he held a position for six months as Guest Professor at the Hochschule fur Musik Freiburg, Germany.


Gerard Willems has performed in the USA, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Australia and Israel having performed under conductors such as Sir Bernard Heinze, Nicholas Braithwaite, John Lanchbery, Nicholas Milton, Avnir Biron and Patrick Thomas. He has broadcast for Australian, Dutch, French, Austrian and Israeli radio. He completed a concert tour of Norway in 2010 where he played in Troldhaugen in Bergen.


His many recordings include Piano Concerto No 1 by Franz Liszt with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Complete Piano Trios by Mozart and the 32 Piano Sonatas by Beethoven. The Sonatas were awarded the ARIA prize in 1999 and 2000 as “best classical album of the year”. 


In 2003 Gerard Willems recorded all five Beethoven Piano Concertos with Sinfonia Australis under the direction of Antony Walker for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. His DVD performance of the Emperor Concerto received the “World Music DVD “ prize in New York in 2005.


In 2010 he recorded the Diabelli Variations of Beethoven which were widely acclaimed. In 2013 the recording project was completed with the three Electoral Sonatas WoO 47 and a reconstruction by Cees Nieuwenhuizen of the Fantasia Sonata, deest 45.


The Beethoven-Willems Collection was launched in September 2013 as a 15 CD/DVD set by ABC Classics. In August 2015 his latest double CD album “Morning Mood” with piano music of Grieg was launched at the Opera House and has been widely acclaimed in the press.


In 2000 Gerard Willems was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II prize by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust to research Early Music Performance Practice in USA and Europe. In the same year he was Guest Professor in the “Hepzibah Menuhin Piano Chair” at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem. In 2012 he was artist in residence at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore.


Gerard Willems teaches and gives masterclasses worldwide and is invited to be on juries of national and international piano competitions. He is regarded as a specialist in the first Viennese school. In 2012 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Southern Highland International Piano Competition and decorated with an AM for services to the arts as a concert pianist, educator and mentor to young musicians.


In 2017 Gerard Willems toured USA giving lectures at UCLA, Brigham University and Juilliard in New York. He also gave masterclasses in Helsinki at the Sibelius Institute and Freiburg Hochschule in 

Germany and was piano examiner for Schola Cantorum in Paris.


He plans to return to Europe in 2019 for concerts and lectures.