1996 saw the 50th Anniversary of Joaquín Achúcarro's debut as a concert pianist. His professional career started after his victory at the 1959 Liverpool International Competition (one year after Zubin Mehta had won it as conductor) with Schumann's Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody, which led to his London debut with the London Symphony Orchestra.
He has worked in 58 countries, with 205 orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, London Symphony, New Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, City of Birmingham, Royal Scottish, National de France, RTE Dublin, Yomiuri of Tokyo, Western Australia, RIAS Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Santa Cecilia Roma, La Scala Milano, La Fenice Venezia, Orquesta Nacional de Espana, etc. He has worked with 339 conductors including Abbado, Chailly, Mehta, Menuhin, Ozawa and Rattle.
As a conductor-soloist he has worked with orchestras in Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Honors : In his home country, Spain, he has achieved the two highest honors in the Arts: in 1992 the Spanish Government awarded him the Premio Nacional de Música, and in 1996 he was knighted by King Juan Carlos with the Gold Medal of Fine Arts. He is also Comendador of the Order of Isabel la Católica and Member of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. In 1997 he was awarded the Premio Larios for Musical Excellence, and he played at the inauguration of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum.
UNESCO named him "Artist for Peace 2000" in recognition of his "extraordinary artistic achievement", and in 2003 he has received the Great Cross of Civil Merit from His Majesty King Juan Carlos.
Recordings : In 1997, following the express wish of the composer, Joaquín Achúcarro completed and recorded (for SONY Classical) his revision of Joaquín Rodrigo's Piano Concerto. The recording adds to his wide-ranging discography which includes works by Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Schubert, Ravel, Debussy and Mussorgsky, and prize winning discs of Granados' Goyescas, and the piano works of de Falla. His RCA recording of Nights in the Gardens of Spain with the London Symphony under Eduardo Mata was released recently for the third time.
His latest recordings, released in 2005, include Schumann's Kreisleriana op.16 and Fantasie op.17 under the Ensayo label, and also his 1980's live recordings of Bartok 2nd Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody with the RTVE Orchestra under Gomez Martinez. With Claves Records he has recorded Ravel´s two piano concertos, with the Orquesta de Euskadi under Gilbert Varga. Under the Ensayo label, additional recordings include La Nuit, a Brahms recital and a Ravel recital, which includes his highly acclaimed performance of Gaspard de la Nuit.
Since September 1989 he holds the specially endowed Joel Estes Tate Chair at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, adjusting his teaching periods to his busy concert schedule. He is also a Professor at the International Summer Courses of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena (Italy).
Nevertheless he remains an enthusiastic student, striving to make his first class technique as inconspicuous as possible in serving the cause of Music, exploring the infinite possibilities of sound of his beloved instrument.