Citizen. European. Pianist.

The three words that make up Igor Levit’s home page nail his colours to the mast with the same clarity and degree of emphasis with which his beloved Beethoven opens the Hammerklavier. Here is an artist, it seems to say, who paints on a broad canvas; one whose place in the world informs his art; and one who is unafraid to speak his mind, whether on music or on politics. At the 2017 BBC Proms, and at the height of the acrimonious Brexit campaign, Levit performed Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – the anthem of the European Union – wearing a small but significant EU pin.

Watch Igor Levit’s interview with Limelight Editor-at-Large Clive Paget, where he speaks about embracing the challenges of performing large-scale works, and how his political and social beliefs are inseperable from his music-making.

“First of all, the ground I stand on as a human being is me being a citizen of my country, which calls for certain responsibilities,” the Russian-born, German pianist explains over Zoom from his apartment in Berlin’s bustling Mitte neighbourhood. “The idea to detach yourself...