Evgeny Kissin’s musicality, the depth and poetic quality of his interpretations, and his extraordinary virtuosity have earned him the veneration and admiration deserved only by one of the most gifted classical pianists of his generation and, arguably, generations past. He is in demand the world over, and has appeared with many of the world’s great conductors, including Abbado, Ashkenazy, Barenboim, Dohnanyi, Giulini, Karajan, Levine, Maazel, Muti and Ozawa, as well as all the great orchestras of the world.
Mr. Kissin was born in Moscow in October 1971 and began to play by ear and improvise on the piano at the age of two. At six years old, he entered a special school for gifted children, the Moscow Gnessin School of Music, where he was a student of Anna Pavlovna Kantor, who has been his only teacher. At the age of ten, he made his concerto debut playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 466 and gave his first solo recital in Moscow one year later. He came to international attention in March 1984 when, at the age of twelve, he performed Chopin’s Piano Concertos 1 and 2 in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Moscow State Philharmonic under Dmitri Kitaenko. This concert was recorded live by Melodia, and a two-LP album was released the following year.
Given the astounding success of this recording, Melodia proceeded to release five more LPs of live performances in Moscow over the following two years.
Mr. Kissin’s first appearances outside Russia were in 1985 in Eastern Europe; his first tour of Japan in 1986; and in December 1988 he performed with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic in a New Year’s concert broadcast internationally. In 1990 Mr. Kissin made his first appearance at the BBC Promenade Concerts in London and, in the same year, made his North American debut, performing both Chopin piano concertos with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta. The following week he opened Carnegie Hall’s Centennial season with a spectacular debut recital, recorded live by BMG Classics.
Mr. Kissin opened Carnegie Hall’s 2015/16 season with the New York Philharmonic and appeared with Boston, Chicago and Cincinnati Symphonies, closing the season with the Met Orchestra under James Levine. As part of the Carnegie Perspectives series, he also performed two recitals in one week – the first pianist to do so at Carnegie Hall since Horowitz. Mr. Kissin starts the 2016/17 season in Lugano and Locarno performing with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana led by Vladimir Ashkenazy, followed by a recital tour of Europe and Israel, and a concert in Tel Aviv with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta.
Musical awards and tributes from around the world have been showered upon Evgeny Kissin. He received the Crystal Prize of the Osaka Symphony Hall for the Best Performance of the Year in 1986 (his first performance in Japan). In 1991 he received the Musician of the Year Prize from the Chigiana Academy of Music in Siena, Italy. He was special guest at the 1992 Grammy Awards Ceremony, broadcast live to an audience estimated at over one billion, and three years later became Musical America’s youngest Instrumentalist of the Year. In 1997 he received the prestigious Triumph Award for his outstanding contribution to Russia’s culture, one of the highest cultural honors to be awarded in the Russian Republic, the youngest ever awardee. Mr. Kissin has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the Manhattan School of Music; the Shostakovich Award, one of Russia’s highest musical honors; an Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London; an Honorary Doctorate from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; an Honorary Doctorate from the BenGurion University of the Negev in Beersheba; and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the Hong Kong University.
Mr. Kissin’s recordings have also received numerous awards and accolades, having contributed significantly to the library of masterpieces recorded by the world’s greatest performers. Past awards have included the Edison Klassiek in The Netherlands, and the Diapason d’Or and the Grand Prix of La Nouvelle Academie du Disque in France. His recording of works by Scriabin, Medtner and Stravinsky (RCA Red Seal) won him a Grammy in 2006 for Best Instrumental Soloist and, in 2002, he was named Echo Klassik Soloist of the Year. His most recent Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (with orchestra) was awarded in 2010 for his recording of Prokofiev’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy (EMI Classics).
Mr. Kissin’s extraordinary talent inspired Christopher Nupen’s documentary film, Evgeny Kissin: The Gift of Music, which was released in 2000 on video and DVD by RCA Red Seal.
© Felix Broede
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