Alice Sara Ott was born in Munich, Germany, on August 1, 1988 to a German father and Japanese pianist mother. She began piano lessons at four, and at seven she won the Jugend Musiziert Competition in Germany. Other important competition victories followed and at 12 Ott began studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling. In 2002, at the Hamamatsu International Piano Academy Competition in Japan, Ott became the youngest finalist (age 13) in the contest's history and received the Most Promising Artist Award.
Ott's 2005 performance of the Tchaikovsky
First Concerto with the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra drew rave reviews and bolstered her burgeoning career in Japan.
By 2008 she was a major international presence, an artist unafraid to take on challenges: Ott accepted the daunting task of substituting for Murray Perahia
in Basel, Switzerland, and her performances in a program of Liszt
drew a standing ovation. Ott's 2009 tours of Japan with the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa garnered critical acclaim, and her performance of the Tchaikovsky
First Concerto with the Munich Philharmonic
under Thomas Hengelbrock
was recorded live by DG
for release in 2010.
2010 was also the year her disc of Chopin waltzes was issued to great acclaim. Ott made notable appearances that year with the major symphony orchestras of Cincinnati, San Francisco, Stockholm, and Tokyo, and gave recitals at major concert venues in Istanbul, Paris, Vienna, and Lucerne. Ott's 2011 CD of Beethoven
's Sonata No. 3 and No. 21 and other Beethoven
works again drew critical plaudits.
As Ott's career developed in the 2010s, she favored novel and even experimental programming concepts, although she has continued to release recitals of conventional repertoire by the likes of Mussorgsky
(Wonderland, 2016). Her 2014 album, Scandale, with pianist Francesco Tristano
, explored piano transcriptions of music, including Stravinsky
's Le Sacre du Printemps, that had been controversial in its own time. Most unusual of all was The Chopin Project (2015), on which Ott collaborated with Icelandic electronic musician Ólafur Arnalds
. Ott's tour schedule for 2017 included concerts at major venues in Germany, Japan, and the U.S., the three countries in which is perhaps best known.