Pianist & cultural activist


“A prodigious pianist” (Chicago Tribune, 2014) and someone who “likes to shake it up” (Chicago Tribune, 2016), George Lepauw is an artist and cultural activist who uses music and the arts to inspire and bring people together, following upon Beethoven's idea of "brotherhood". 

Named Chicagoan of the Year (2012) for Classical Music in the Chicago Tribune and listed in Chicago Magazine’s Classical Music “Power List” (2013), George represents the ideal 21st century musician, intensely focused on his art and wholly engaged with the world. He first began performing professionally at age ten in Paris where he grew up, and has concertized ever since as a recitalist, chamber musician, vocal collaborator, and soloist with orchestra. He also occasionally works in other genres including world music, cabaret, pop, flamenco, jazz, and blues. In 2008 he founded the International Beethoven Project (IBP), a radical organization focused on innovation in the arts, motivated by Beethoven’s indomitable spirit. George is also the Executive Director of the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival (www.cimmfest.org).

George began piano studies at the age of three in Paris with Aïda Barenboim, mother of Daniel Barenboim, and furthered his studies with Elena Varvarova, Brigitte Engerer, Vladimir Krainev, Rena Shereshevskaya, Ursula Oppens, James Giles, and Earl Wild, among others. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with a double major in English Literature and History, and received his Masters of Music in Piano Performance from Northwestern University. George is a frequent guest speaker and master class leader at universities and “ideas festivals” as well as on radio and television. He is also a founding member of the Chicago Ideas Co-op. George grew up in an artistically engaged family: his sister Consuelo Lepauw is a violinist based in Chicago, his father Didier Lepauw was a First Violin in the Orchestre de Paris, and his grandfather Roger Lepauw was Principal Viola of the Orchestre de Paris and of the Opéra de Paris; his mother Jane Lepauw is a writer and civic activist. 

His current creative projects include recordings and multimedia explorations of Johann Sebastian Bach’s complete Well-Tempered Clavier, Debussy’s Preludes, and Beethoven’s Sonatas. He also recently launched a podcast, a blog, and a Patreon page to help support these wide-ranging activities.