Performance Wednesday, December 16, 2015 | 8 PM

Evgeny Kissin: Jewish Music and Poetry

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
When Evgeny Kissin performed rarely heard piano works by lesser-known Jewish composers and recited Yiddish poetry at The Kennedy Center in 2014, the occasion was praised by audiences and critics alike. Jewish folk themes and hints of Debussy and Ravel make Alexander Krein’s Suite dansée extraordinarily unique; Jewish themes also play a seminal part in Bloch’s Piano Sonata. Interspersed between the musical selections, Kissin reads portions of poems by Yiddish writer Yitzhak Leybush Peretz.

Carnegie Hall is pleased to acknowledge the important leadership of Pro Musica Hebraica, under the direction of Dr. Charles and Robyn Krauthammer, in the original development and performance of this program by Evgeny Kissin at the Kennedy Center on February 24, 2014.


  • Evgeny Kissin, Piano and Speaker


  • BLOCH Piano Sonata
  • VEPRIK Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 5
  • KREIN Suite dansée
  • Readings of poetry by Yitzhak Leybush Peretz
  • MILNER MIKHAIL MILNER "Farn opsheyd" ("Before Separating")
    A reading of "Ani maymin" ("Credo"), a poem by Evgeny Kissin


  • Evgeny Kissin

    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 Claudio Abbado, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph von Dohnányi, Carlo Maria Giulini, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, and Seiji Ozawa, as well as all the great orchestras of the world.

    Mr. Kissin was born in Moscow in October 1971. He 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, Moscow's Gnessin School of Music, where he was a student of Anna Pavlovna Kantor, who has been his only teacher. At the age of 10, he made his concerto debut, playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, 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 First and Second piano concertos 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 Eastern Europe in 1985, followed by his first tour to Japan in 1986, and a New Year's performance in December 1988 with Herbert von Karajan and the Berliner Philharmoniker that was broadcast internationally. In 1990, Mr. Kissin made his first appearance at the BBC Proms 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.

    In 2015-2016, Mr. Kissin opens Carnegie Hall's 125th anniversary season with the New York Philharmonic, and also appears with the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras and The MET Orchestra. In addition, he is the focus of a Carnegie Hall Perspectives series, performing two recitals in one week--the first pianist to do so at Carnegie Hall since Vladimir Horowitz--a chamber music program, and a Jewish music and poetry recital. Further US recitals take place in Chicago, Dallas, and Washington, DC.

    Musical awards and accolades from around the world have been generously bestowed upon Mr. Kissin, including the Shostakovich Award (one of Russia's highest musical honors). In 1997, he became the youngest-ever recipient of the prestigious Triumph Award for his outstanding contribution to Russia's culture. He was special guest at the 1992 Grammy Awards ceremony, broadcast live to an audience estimated to be larger than one billion, and three years later became Musical America's youngest-ever Instrumentalist of the Year. He is also an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, and has received honorary doctorates from the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Hong Kong, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba.

    Mr. Kissin's recording of works by Scriabin, Medtner, and Stravinsky (RCA Red Seal) won him a Grammy Award in 2006, and he won another Grammy in 2010 for his recording of Prokofiev's Second and Third piano concertos 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, released in 2000 on video and DVD by RCA Red Seal.

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Perspectives: Evgeny Kissin
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