EVGENY 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 the age of six, 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 remained his only teacher. At the age of ten, he made his concerto debut playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto, K. 466, and he 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 Nos. 1 and 2 in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Moscow State Philharmonic under Dmitri Kitaenko. Melodiya recorded the concert live, and a double-LP album was released the following year.
Kissin’s first appearances outside Russia were in 1985 in Eastern Europe, followed a year later by his first tour of Japan. In 1987 he made his West European debut at the Berlin Festival. In 1988 he toured Europe with the Moscow Virtuosi and Vladimir Spivakov and also made his London debut with the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. In December of the same year he performed with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic in a New Year’s concert that was broadcast internationally, with the performance repeated the following year at the Salzburg Easter Festival. Audio and video recordings of the New Year’s concert were made by Deutsche Grammophon.
In 1990 Kissin 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, which was recorded live by BMG Classics.
Musical awards and tributes from around the world have been showered upon Kissin. In 1987 he received the Crystal Prize of the Osaka Symphony Hall. 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, and in 1995 he became Musical America’s youngest Instrumentalist of the Year. In 1997 he received the Triumph Award for his outstanding contribution to Russia’s culture. He was the first pianist to be invited to give a recital at the BBC Proms (1997); in the 2000 season, he was the first concerto soloist ever to be invited to play in the Proms opening concert. In December 2003 in Moscow, he received the Shostakovich Award, one of Russia’s highest musical honors. In June 2005, he was awarded an Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Kissin’s recordings have received numerous awards and accolades, including the Edison Klassiek in The Netherlands and the Diapason d’Or and the Grande Prix of La Nouvelle Académie du Disque in France, as well as awards from music magazines throughout the world. His recording of works by Scriabin, Medtner, and Stravinsky won him a Grammy in 2006 for Best Instrumental Soloist, and in 2002 he was named ECHO Klassik Soloist of the Year.
His first studio recording, in 1988 for RCA Red Seal, was of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Gergiev/London Symphony Orchestra, and six Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39. Among other works recorded for RCA Red Seal are two Chopin recital programs; Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Paganini, and Franck’s Prelude, Choral, and Fugue; Schumann’s Fantasy, Op. 17 and Five Transcendental Etudes by Liszt; Schumann’s Kreisleriana and the Bach/Busoni Chaconne; the Bach/Busoni Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C major, Glinka-Balakirev’s The Lark, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition; Schumann’s Sonata No. 1 in F-sharp minor and Carnaval; and an all-Brahms disc. A recent duo recital with James Levine of works by Schubert was recorded live at Carnegie Hall and released on RCA Red Seal.
Among Kissin’s concerto recordings are the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra (EMI); Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 and Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra (EMI); Schumann’s Concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic and Giulini (Sony Classical); Prokofiev’s Concertos Nos. 1 and 3 with the Berlin Philharmonic and Abbado (Deutsche Grammophon); Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3 with the Boston Symphony and Ozawa (RCA Red Seal); and Mozart’s Concertos Nos. 12 and 20 and Rondo in D major, K. 382, Haydn’s Concerto in D major, and Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 with the Moscow Virtuosi and Spivakov (RCA Red Seal).
Christopher Nupen’s documentary film, Evgeny Kissin: The Gift of Music, was released in 2000 on video and DVD by RCA Red Seal.
During the 2008/09 season, Kissin will give recitals with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, and London. He will also play solo recitals throughout Europe, the United States, Japan, and Southeast Asia.
Evgeny Kissin appears by arrangement with IMG Artists, 152 W. 57 St., 5th Floor, New York, NY, 10019. He records for EMI Classics, RCA Red Seal/Sony BMG Masterworks, and Deutsche Grammophon.