The Russian pianist, Evgeny [Yevgeny, Jevgenij] Igorevich Kissin [Russian: Евге́ний И́горевич Ки́син], began to play by ear and improvise on the piano at the age of 2. At 6 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 remained his only teacher. At the age of 10, 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 12, he performed Chopin’s Piano Concertos No. 1 and No. 2 in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Moscow State Philharmonic under Dmitri Kitaenko. This concert was recorded live by Melodiya, and a 2-LP album was released the following year. During the next two years, several Kissin performances in Moscow were recorded live and five more LPs were released by Melodia.
Evgeny Kissins 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 Berliner Philharmoniker in a New Year’s concert which 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 first appearance at the BBC Promenade Concerts in London and that same year made his North American debut, performing both Chopin piano concertos with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra 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 Evgeny Kissin. In 1987 he received the Crystal Prize of the Osaka Symphony Hall for the best performance of the year 1986 (which was 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 became Musical America’s youngest Instrumentalist of the Year in 1995. 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, and again, the youngest-ever awardee. He was the first pianist to be invited to give a recital at the BBC Proms (1997), and, in the 2000 season, was the first concerto soloist ever to be invited to play in the Proms opening concert. In May 2001 Kissin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the Manhattan School of Music. 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. He was recently awarded the 2005 Herbert von Karajan Music Prize.
Evgeny Kissin’s musicality, the depth and poetic quality of his interpretations, and his extraordinary virtuosity have placed him at the forefront of the world’s new generation of young pianists. He makes regular recital tours of Europe, America and Asia to sold-out houses. He has performed with all the leading orchestras of the world under such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Colin Davis, Valery Gergiev, Carlo Maria Giulini, Mariss Jansons, Herbert von Karajan, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Georg Solti, Evgeny Svetlanov, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Yuri Temirkanov. Kissin has also performed chamber music with Martha Argerich, Gidon Kremer, James Levine, Alexander Knyazev, Mischa Maisky, Thomas Quasthoff, Isaac Stern and others.
During the 2005-2006 season, Evgeny Kissin performs in the opening night gala concert for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and plays the complete cycle of L.v. Beethoven concertos with Sir Andrew Davis and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He appears in recital in Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Britain, Norway, Holland, Luxembourg, Poland, Serbia, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Evgeny Kissin’s recordings have also received numerous awards and accolades, including the Edison Klassiek in The Netherlands and the Diapason d’Or and the Grande Prix of La Nouvelle Academie du Disque in France, as well as awards from music magazines throughout the world. In 2002 and 2006 Kissin was named Echo Klassik Soloist of the Year. In February 2006 Kissin has won the Grammy award. He received it in the category of the Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra) for his recording of piano works by Scriabin, Medtner and Igor Stravinsky. His first studio recording, in 1988 for RCA Red Seal, was of Sergei Rachmaninov’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 programmes, one with the four Ballades, Barcarolle, Berceuse, and Scherzo No. 4, Op. 54, and another with the 24 Preludes Op. 28, Sonata No. 2 and Polonaise in A- flat; L.v. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Johannes Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Paganini, and Francks’s Prelude, Choral and Fugue; Schumann’s Fantasy, Op. 17 and five Etudes d’execution transcendante by Franz Liszt; Schumann’s Kreisleriana and the Bach-Busoni Chaconne; Bach-Busoni Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, Glinka-Balakirev The Lark and Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition; Schumann’s Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor and Carnaval; and an all-Brahms disc including Sonata No. 3 in F Minor and five Hungarian dances. His newest recording has been released in September 2005 includes works by Scriabin, Medtner and I. Stravinsky’s Movements from Pétrouchka. A recent duo recital with James Levine of by Schubert was recorded live at Carnegie Hall May 1, 2005 (RCA Red Seal). Other recital albums include Schubert Sonata No. 21 in B flat major and Schubert-Liszt Four Songs (BMG/RCA Victor Red Seal), Schubert Wanderer Fantasie, Johannes Brahms Seven Pieces, Op. 116, Franz Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 (Deutsche Grammophon) and Haydn Sonata No. 30 in A major, Sonata No. 52 in E flat major, and Schubert Sonata in A minor D784 (Sony).
Among concerto recordings are the Schumann Concerto with the Wiener Philharmoniker and Carlo Maria Giulini (Sony Classical); L.v. Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 5 with the Philharmonia Orchestra and James Levine (Sony Classical); Prokofiev Concertos Nos. 1 and 3 with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado (Deutsche Grammophon) and Sergei Rachmaninov Concerto No. 3 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa (RCA Red Seal); Mozart Concertos Nos. 12 and 20 and Rondo in D major KV. 382, Haydn Concerto in D major, Dmitri Shostakovich Concerto No. 1 with the Moscow Virtuosi and Vladimir Spivakov (RCA Red Seal); L.v. Beethoven Choral Fantasy with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado (Deutsche Grammophon). Christopher Nupen’s documentary film, Evgeny Kissin: The Gift of Music, was released in 2000 on video and DVD by RCA Red Seal.