Gülsin Onay started her piano education when she was three and gave her first public recital on Turkish Radio when she was only six. With the aid of a special state scholarship she studied with Ahmed Adnan Saygun and Mithat Fenmen, and subsequently at the Paris Conservatoire. There she worked at the Paris Conservatoire with many distinguished pedagogues, including Pierre Sancan, Nadia Boulanger and Monique Haas. By the age of 16 she had graduated from the Conservatoire with highest honours in all subjects, including the prestigious Premier Prix de Piano. She continued her studies with Bernhard Ebert, and went on to win prizes in top international competitions, including the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud (in Paris) and the Ferruccio Busoni (in Bolzano).
Gülsin Onay's subsequent, truly international, career has spanned 65 countries across all continents, from Venezuela to Japan. Gülsin Onay has given concerts in the major musical centres of the world , including Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus, London's Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall, the Salle Gaveau in Paris, the Washington DC National Gallery of Art and the New York Miller Theater. She has performed as a soloist with such leading orchestras as Dresden Staatskapelle, Philharmonia Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Japan Philharmonic, Munich Radio Symphony, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic and Vienna Symphony Orchestras. Conductors with which she has performed include Vladimir Ashkenazy, Erich Bergel, Michael Boder, Andrey Boreyko, Jorg Faerber, Edward Gardner, Emmanuel Krivine, Ingo Metzmacher, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jose Serebrier, Vassily Sinaisky, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Stanislaw Wislocki and Lothar Zagrosek. Ms. Onay's many festival appearances include Berlin, Warsaw, Granada, Mozartfest Würzburg, Newport, Schleswig-Holstein and Istanbul.
A natural soloist, Gülsin Onay is equally at home with music of all periods and styles: her repertoire ranges from Bach and Scarlatti to the contemporary, taking in the great classical and romantic works of the 19th and 20th centuries. She has championed the music of the contemporary Turkish composer A. Adnan Saygun, whose 2nd Piano Concerto was dedicated to her. Other contemporary composers who have dedicated works to Gülsin Onay are Hubert Stuppner, Denis Dufour, Jean-Louis Petit, Muhiddin Dürrüoglu-Demiriz and Marc-André Hamelin. Her recordings illustrate the breadth of her repertoire: concertos by Mozart, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and Stuppner, and both concertos by Saygun (released on the cpo label to wide critical praise); solo music by Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy, Franck, Medtner, Ravel, Bartók, Busoni and Saygun; and two live concert DVDs on the VAI label, featuring a critically-acclaimed recital at the Miami festival, and concertos by Grieg and Saint-Saëns. Forthcoming releases include the concertos by Khachaturian and Ulvi Cemal Erkin, with Jose Serebrier and the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra.
In her native Turkey, Gülsin Onay holds the title of State Artist, and honorary doctorate degree from the Bosphorus University in Istanbul and Hacettepe University in Ankara. She is a soloist of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Ankara, and “Artist in Residence” at Bilkent University, Ankara; and she has been named “Goodwill Ambassador” by the Turkish national committee of UNICEF. In 2007 Gülsin Onay was honoured with the rare award of a State Medal by the Polish nation for her contributions to Polish culture through her outstanding performances of the music of Chopin, and in the same year the “Sevda-Cenap And” Music Foundation awarded her its prestigious Honorary Award Gold Medal. As one of Turkey's most prominent artistic figures, Gülsin Onay is frequently to be seen and heard on national television and radio, and in 2008 she was the subject of an extensive biography of her life and career “Gülsin Onay: when the joy of life meets the keyboard” by the Turkish writer Serhan Yedig.
Liszt, Haydn, Schubert