Angela Hewitt is a Canadian pianist (she also holds British citizenship) known for her interpretations of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. She has recorded all of Bach's major keyboard works as well as many major works by Mozart, Beethoven, Couperin and Rameau among others.
Hewitt was born in Ottawa in 1958 and began piano lessons with her mother at the age of three. She also played violin and recorder while growing up in addition to studying ballet. She studied piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Ottawa. While she had won or placed in numerous international competitions, her big break came when she won the Toronto International Bach Competition in 1985. She was the only Canadian in the top four, which was rounded out by two Russians and a German. In a reminiscence marking the 25th anniversary of the competition, she said that this led to some unique pressures:
"It wasn't easy being in the spotlight on home territory. If I lost, all would know (in those days it was easier to hide such a thing if it were on the other side of the ocean), and say that the Russians were better anyway. If I won there was the danger that people would say it was fixed. I needed to really show I deserved it."
Her win led to a record — a collection of Bach pieces including English Suite No. 6 and the Italian Concerto in F Major — with Deutsche Grammophon, though this was her only recording for the storied label. In an interview with CBC Radio's Jian Ghomeshi years later, she said she felt that she didn't fit in at the label and that she had been pressured to raise her profile by "getting involved in some scandal." Today she records exclusively for Hyperion.
In addition to solo works and pieces for piano and orchestra, Hewitt has recorded chamber works with soloists of other instruments, including Bach flute sonatas and Beethoven cello sonatas. In 2007 and 2008, she played the entire Well-Tempered Clavier in 25 countries on six continents. She referred to it as her "Bach World Tour." She released a DVD at the same time featuring herself playing and explaining Bach's music.
By virtue of her British citizenship, inherited from her British father (who had been the organist at Ottawa's Christ Church Cathedral), Hewitt received an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II in her 2006 birthday honours list. Hewitt was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2000.
Her home base is London, but she maintains a permanent home in her hometown of Ottawa and also has a home in Umbria. She organizes and runs a music festival in Italy every summer.
Angela Hewitt in her own words
Angela Hewitt: The Canadian Encyclopedia
Angela Hewitt: CBC Music
Angela Hewitt on Q
Bach World Tour
Official site (she also keeps a tour blog here)
Angela Hewitt on Facebook