Some musicians are destined to forge artistic paths that will open up new horizons for future generations. Yuri Bashmet is undoubtedly one of them, since it is he that established the viola as a leading instrument on the contemporary concert stage. Born in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don in 1953, Yuri Bashmet studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Vadim Borisovsky and Feodor Druzhinin. On winning first prize in the International Music Competition in Munich, he embarked on an unparalleled world career in 1976. He has performed as a soloist with the world’s leading orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de France. Contemporary composers, among them Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina, Edisson Denissow, Mikael Tariverdijev, John Tavener, Giya Kancheli and Alexander Tchaikovsky, have composed and dedicated a total of over 50 works for and to him.
Yuri Bashmet took up the conducting baton in 1982. In 1992, he founded the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra comprising highly talented young graduates of the Moscow Conservatory. Together, Yuri Bashmet and the soloists of this group became the first Russian ensemble to win a Grammy Award in 2008. Yuri Bashmet has been the artistic director and principal conductor of the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra since 2002. Film and television broadcasters in several different countries have documented his artistic work, and he himself is the creator and host of the TV programme Station of Dreams.
Yuri Bashmet enjoyed a longstanding artistic friendship with Svjatoslav Richter and, following Richter’s death, took over from him as artistic director of the renowned “December Nights” festival in Moscow. Bashmet is also the founder and chairman of the Yuri Bashmet International Viola Competition in Moscow, and likewise founded an international charitable fund, which led to creation of the Dmitri Shostakovich Prize awarded for special artistic achievement. Its winners include Gidon Kremer, Thomas Quasthoff, Viktor Tretjakov, Valery Gergiev, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Olga Borodina, Irina Antonova, Natalja Gutman, Yevgeny Kissin, Maxim Vengerov, Alexei Ratmansky, Yefim Bonfman, Denis Mazuyev and Tan Dun. Further to these achievements, Yuri Bashmet has participated in a great number of important charitable events.