Tessa Uys
Born in Cape Town into an exceptionally musical and theatrical family, Tessa Uys is one of South Africa’s most distinguished concert pianists. Aged 7, she gave her first public performance and made her concerto debut at 13 with the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra conducted by David Tidboald. At 16, whilst still at school, she won a Royals Schools Associated Board cholarship and continued her studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London where she studied with Gordon Green. Here she won many prizes, and in her final year was awarded the top prize, the Macfarren Medal. She furthered her studies in London with Maria Curcio and in Siena, Italy with Guido Agosti.

Shortly after this, Tessa Uys won the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition. During the past three decades, Tessa Uys has established herself an impressive reputation, both as concert performer and as a broadcasting artiste, performing at many of the major concert venues throughout the world. She is also in demand as examiner, teacher and adjudicator. She made the first broadcast recordings of the Godowsky transcriptions of 12 Schubert songs for both BBC Radio 3 and Radio Hilversum in the Netherlands. She has given many recitals at the Wigmore Hall, as well as St John’s Smith Square and the Southbank Centre.
Tessa Uys has played under such distinguished conductors as Sir Neville Marriner, Walter Susskind, Louis Fremaux, Matthias Baemert and Nicholas Kraemer. She has also enjoyed the distinction of working with the director John Schlesinger on his film ‘Madame Sousatzka’, starring Shirley MacLaine.

In 1994 she was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. In the year 2000, to mark the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, she recorded the Goldberg Variations released as a double CD for GSE Claremont records. In recent years, Tessa Uys arranged an emotive journey of a Blüthner grand piano. The piano belonged to her German-born mother, who took it from Berlin to Cape Town in the late 1930’s. Now the instrument has made its final voyage back to the land of its creation, where it occupies the pride of place at the Berlin Jewish Museum, completing an elegant parabola from Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa to new eras in both lands.

Ben Schoeman
The South African pianist and Steinway Artist Ben Schoeman won several awards, including the first grand prize in the 11th UNISA International Piano Competition in Pretoria (2008), the gold medal in the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition in London (2009), the Standard Bank Young Artist Award (2011), the contemporary music prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition, USA (2013), and the Huberte Rupert Prize from the South African Academy of Arts and Sciences (2016).

He has given solo, chamber music and concerto performances in such prestigious concert halls as the Wigmore, Barbican, Cadogan and Queen Elizabeth Halls in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Gulbenkian Auditorium in Lisbon, Teatro Vittoria in Turin, the Fondazione Cariplo Auditorium in Milan, the Durban and Cape Town City Halls and the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest. He has performed at many international festivals such as City of London, Edinburgh Fringe, Chester, Enescu Bucharest, Grahamstown and Ottawa.

Ben Schoeman studied at the University of Pretoria, the Accademia Pianistica ‘Incontri col Maestro’ in Imola, the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole in Florence and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with renowned professors such as Joseph Stanford, Louis Lortie, Michel Dalberto, Boris Petrushansky, Ronan O’Hora and Eliso Virsaladze. In 2016, he obtained a doctorate in music from City, University of London and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with a thesis on the piano works of the eminent South African composer, the late Stefans Grové. Grové dedicated his final work, Concerto for Cello, Piano and Orchestra ‘Bushman Prayers’ (2013) to Schoeman and his duo partner cellist Anzél Gerber. The duo premiered this work with the Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestras in 2015.

Schoeman’s solo album, featuring works of Franz Liszt, is available under the TwoPianists label and he has recorded music of Anton Rubinstein and Sergei Rachmaninoff with Anzél Gerber. His performance in London with pianist Tessa Uys of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, arranged for piano duet by Xaver Scharwenka, has been recorded for broadcast on South African national television. Ben Schoeman is a senior lecturer in music at the University of Pretoria, where he received the Laureate Award.

Ludwig van Beethoven | Symphony no. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (Choral)
arranged for piano four hands by Franz Xaver Scharwenka (1850-1924)
Click here to view an extract of the concert at St Michael’s Church, Highgate, London. (Videography by Zach Gerard )

Review by Prof Wieland Gevers, University of Cape Town:
I was waiting to hear the Beethoven 9th Symphony 4-hand recording on Kyknet television. It was in fact broadcast in all its glory, and was a wonderful experience. Tessa and Ben played so well, and brought out the musical structure so convincingly that I was entranced. I’ve always thought that 4-hand playing is for the players, not an audience, but this was a real musical journey in which the powerful and familiar symphonic sound was conveyed on a piano as transcribed by a true master, Mr X Scharwenka.

In Tune BBC Radio 3
“The phenomenal piano duo of Tessa Uys and Ben Schoeman performing
Brahms dances and unique arrangements of Beethoven Symphonies“

Urbancraft Magazine
“Two of South Africa’s finest Concert Pianists perform Beethoven’s symphonies. Two sublime artists performing together “ – Godfrey Johnson

Christopher Axworthy, Keyboard Charitable Trust
“A standing ovation awaited at the end of an extraordinary performance by Tessa Uys and Ben Schoeman of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on his 249th birthday. An ovation for the performers but above all for Beethoven’s score that can still astonish and amaze us especially when played with a clarity and rhythmic drive even more revolutionary and evident when played on the same instrument.
It was a revelation of beauty, clarity and rhythmic energy from two superb
musicians… With Ben’s two sensitive feet allowing Tessa’s radiant tone to
shine like jewels whilst enveloping it with all the sumptuous sounds of a
Berlin Philharmonic.”

Selected Programmes
Franz Schubert (1797-1828):
Sonata in C major ‘Grand Duo’ for piano four hands, D. 812
Rondo in A major for piano four hands, D. 951
Concert Allegro in A minor ‘Lebensstürme’ for piano four hands, D. 947
Fantasy in F minor for piano four hands, D. 940

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827):
Symphonies nos. 1-9, arranged for piano four hands by FX Scharwenka

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897):
Complete Hungarian Dances
Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904):
Slavonic Dances (Opp. 46 and 72)

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809):
Symphonies nos. 94 (Surprise) and 104 (London) (arr. by H Ulrich)
Arnold van Wyk (1916-1983):
Three Improvisations on Dutch Folksongs (1942)

WA Mozart (1756-1791): Sonata for two pianos in D major, K. 448
Robert Schumann (1810-1856): Six Canonic Etudes, Op. 56 (arr. C Debussy)
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921): Variations on a theme of Beethoven, Op. 35
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943): Suite no. 2 for two pianos in C major, Op. 17

Photo credits:
Zach Gerard & Ronel van Zyl

To contact the Piano Duo