Program Books/Mahan Esfahani

Mahan Esfahani


Mahan Esfahani is a world-renowned harpsichordist who has earned a reputation as a trailblazer in the classical music world. Born in Tehran in 1984, he spent his formative years in the United States before settling permanently in Europe in 2006. Esfahani studied musicology and history at Stanford University, where he first discovered the harpsichord with Elaine Thornburgh; following his decision to abandon academia, he worked as a repetiteur before completing his studies in Prague with the celebrated Czech harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková.

Since making his London debut in 2009, Esfahani has become known for his critically acclaimed performances and recordings of the standard repertoire, as well as for his work with leading contemporary composers. He was the first and only harpsichordist to be a BBC New Generation Artist, a Borletti-Buitoni prize winner, and a nominee for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year. He has also twice been shortlisted as Instrumentalist of the Year for the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards.

Esfahani has performed as a concerto soloist with major symphony and chamber orchestras and contemporary music ensembles on four continents, working with leading conductors such as Leif Segerstam, François Xavier-Roth, Ilan Volkov, Ludovic Morlot, Thomas Dausgaard, Andrew Manze, Thierry Fischer, and others; meanwhile, Esfahani’s work with contemporary music is particularly noteworthy, and to date he has commissioned over 20 new works—concertos, solo works, and mixed media works with electronics—by composers including Gavin Bryars, George Lewis, Poul Ruders, Bent Sørensen, Brett Dean, and Anahita Abbasi.

Esfahani’s discography for Hyperion and Deutsch Grammophon has been widely acclaimed and has won numerous awards, including a Gramophone award and two BBC Music Magazine Awards, two ICMAs, a Diapason d’Or, and the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. He can be frequently heard as a commentator on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 and is a regular contributor of cultural commentary and reviews for publications such as The Critic, The New Yorker, Engelsberg Ideas, and the Guardian.

In recognition of his contributions to the classical music field, Mahan Esfahani was awarded the 2022 Wigmore Hall Prize. Today, he continues to push the boundaries of harpsichord performance, collaborating with leading artists in the mainstream of classical music.