George Lepauw: A Musician, a Cultural Activist, and a Teacher

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George Lepauw is a French-born pianist, classical musician, and composer. He’s well-known in the music sphere as the founder of the International Beethoven Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting tradition and innovation in classical music. One of its traditions is to celebrate Ludwig van Beethoven’s birthday yearly by handing out awards to individuals who have made a lasting impact on music and the arts, such as promoting justice through their craft.

Apart from being a non-profit founder, there’s more to Lepauw and his contributions to the music industry. Below, we’ll discuss more about this talented musician and his inspiring endeavors.

Music Career

Lepauw is a trained concert pianist. He began studying the piano at the Rachmaninov Conservatory in Paris, France, when he was just three years old. By the time he was ten, he had performed in his first public concert. As he became older, Lepauw pursued an education in music and the arts. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in English Literature and History from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Afterward, he took up a Master of Music in Piano Performance at Northwestern University.

His education and formal piano training paved the way for him to become a professional piano performer who released his first recording of Bach’s ‘The Complete Well-Tempered Clavier’ in 2020. This debut solo album earned him praise from BBC Music, which concluded that his work was commendable and contemplative.

Cultural Activism

As a long-time participant in the music industry as a student, performer, and professional, Lepauw became exposed to musical non-profit organizations and their fundraising dynamics.

Because classical music organizations need donors to support their work, unlike the majority of other musical genres that rely on ticket sales and sponsors, classical music is usually produced within a non-profit structure. This creates a necessary and interesting relationship with individual donors, whose musical tastes have an influence on the musical programming. But just as Beethoven himself relied on patrons to advance his musical goals and to help him produce his great compositions, musicians today and arts administrators can help donors learn more about the ongoing trends in music production and composition, so that the creative urge of musicians can best be financially supported for a perfect symbiosis between the artists and the supporters who make productions and projects possible. George Lepauw has always worked closely with donors as integral partners in his productions and musical projects to make this possible.

George Lepauw’s cultural activism has also led him to bring classical music to audiences who were not naturally inclined to be interested in it, due to socio-economic as well as age factors. He has noticed that classical music itself can easily be appreciated by just about anyone and any age group, but that the way it is introduced to people can make all the difference. Telling people to go to the symphony may not work for everyone, but bringing classical music to bars, clubs, community centers, public libraries, and outdoor venues can totally change the perception people have of the world of classical music for the better.

This is why Lepauw thoroughly enjoys leading the International Beethoven Project, which he founded in 2008. It’s motivated by Beethoven’s undefeatable spirit as an artist to bring together tradition and innovation in classical music, allowing musicians to express themselves.

Teaching Career

Given Lepauw’s formal musical training in piano, he took it upon himself to share his knowledge and talent with aspiring musicians. As a result, he has taught private piano lessons for over fifteen years. However, he doesn’t limit himself to teaching formal piano playing. He’s also open to helping musicians think about music, phrasing, and general approaches to the craft.

Occasionally, he would also teach music master classes in different countries and accept invitations to be a guest speaker at universities and festivals.

George Lepauw continues to be an icon in the music industry as a professional performer, cultural activist, and music teacher. His dedication to music has led him to partake in significant projects like the International Beethoven Project, bridging classical and innovative music.

Read more from I On The Scene: HERE

Written exclusively for By Kamille Veronika