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Violist YURI BASHMET is widely recognized as one of the leading string players in the world. He launched his international career in 1976 when he took first prize at the International Viola Competition in Munich and has since performed in recital and with the foremost orchestras and conductors in nearly every major European and North American music center.
Bashmet has appeared as soloist with such prestigious ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Montreal Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London. In 1993, the London Symphony Orchestra presented a four-concert Yuri Bashmet Festival at the Barbican. He was also the International Artist in Residence at the 1998 Bath International Festival.
Bashmet’s exceptional artistry has inspired many composers to write for him. He enjoyed an especially close and productive relationship with Alfred Schnittke, who wrote his Viola Concerto for Bashmet. This work (which Bashmet performed during his most recent appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic) has become firmly established in the repertoire since its premiere in 1986 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Other works written for Bashmet include Georgian composer Giya Kancheli’s Viola Concerto, given its premiere at the Berlin Festival; The Myrrh Bearer by John Tavener; a concerto by Poul Ruders; and Sofia Gubaidulina’s Viola Concerto, first performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Kent Nagano in April 1997. Bashmet also gave the world premiere of Benjamin Britten’s recently edited Concerto for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra with Gidon Kremer and the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Nagano in Manchester in February 1998.
As recitalist, Yuri Bashmet has been the first violist to give a solo performance at such leading halls as La Scala in Milan and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He has appeared on many occasions with Sviatoslav Richter and has performed chamber music with many other distinguished artists including Natalia Gutman, the Borodin Quartet, Gidon Kremer, Viktoria Mullova, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Maxim Vengerov.
In 1988, Bashmet made his first American appearances in two recitals that were critically hailed as the high point of Boston’s Soviet-American “Making Music Together” Festival. He has returned to North America many times for orchestral and recital engagements, including his Carnegie Hall recital debut in 1995. His 1998/99 season in the United States included concerts with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and two performances at the Tanglewood Festival.
In 1992, Bashmet began working with a new ensemble, the Moscow Soloists, which he directs himself. Its players were nominated by professors at the Moscow Conservatory as the most promising talents among the new generation of string players. The Moscow Soloists have given triumphant performances in Moscow, Athens, Amsterdam, Paris, and London (at the BBC Proms), and they return to the United States for a tour this month that includes a Carnegie Hall concert.
Yuri Bashmet was born in 1953 in Rostov-on-Don in Russia and spent his childhood in Lvov, Ukraine. He began his studies at the Moscow Conservatory when he was 18, first with Vadim Borisovsky, the violist of the Beethoven Quartet, and later with Feodor Druzhinin. He went on to become the youngest person ever appointed to a professorship at the Moscow Conservatory.
Yuri Bashmet records exclusively for Sony Classical. His first release on that label, with the Moscow Soloists, contains arrangements for viola and strings of Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet and Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 13; it earned a Grammy Award nomination this year.