Part of: Great Artists II
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 legendary orchestras and conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Ernő Dohnányi, Carlo Maria Giulini, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, and Seiji Ozawa.
Mr. Kissin was born in Moscow in October 1971 and began to play piano by ear 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. At the age of 10, Mr. Kissin 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 Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Dmitri Kitayenko.
In 1990, Mr. 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, recorded live by BMG Classics.
During the 2017–2018 season, Mr. Kissin gives solo recitals in New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Washington, DC, in addition to his numerous European recitals and orchestral appearances. Mr. Kissin also toured Europe and North America with the Emerson String Quartet, with performances in Baden-Baden, Paris, Munich, Essen, Vienna, Amsterdam, Chicago, and Boston.
Musical awards and accolades from around the world have been generously bestowed upon Mr. Kissin over the years. He was a special guest at the 1992 Grammy Awards ceremony, broadcast live to an audience estimated at more than one billion, and three years later became Musical America’s youngest Instrumentalist of the Year. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music, the Shostakovich Award (one of Russia’s highest musical honors), and an honorary membership into the Royal Academy of Music in London.
The Emerson String Quartet has amassed an unparalleled list of achievements throughout the past four decades: more than 30 acclaimed recordings, nine Grammy Awards (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year, and collaborations with many of the greatest artists of our time.
Having celebrated its 40th anniversary last season—a major milestone for a groundbreaking ensemble that has earned its place in the pantheon of the classical chamber music world—the Emerson String Quartet looks toward the future by collaborating with today’s most esteemed composers and premiering new works, thus proving its commitment to keeping the art form of the string quartet alive and more relevant than ever. In 2016, Universal Music Group reissued the quartet’s entire Deutsche Grammophon discography in a 52-CD boxed set, and in April 2017, the quartet released its latest album, Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell, on Decca Gold.
Highlights of the 2017–2018 season include the Emerson String Quartet’s continued series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, now in its 39th season. Other appearances include performances at the Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Corpus Christi chamber music societies; Vancouver Recital Society; Chamber Music Houston; Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College; South Mountain Concerts; Duke Performances; University of Michigan; and Lincoln Center’s White Lights Festival and Alice Tully Hall.
Additional highlights include multiple tours in South America, Asia, and Europe; subsequent performances at Princeton University and The Barns at Wolf Trap of Shostakovich and The Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy, the new theatrical production co-created by acclaimed theater director James Glossman and Emerson String Quartet violinist Philip Setzer; and collaborations with the Calidore String Quartet in Costa Mesa and the Dover Quartet in Washington, DC. This month, renowned pianist Evgeny Kissin joins the Emerson String Quartet for performances at Chicago’s Symphony Hall and Boston’s Jordan Hall, in addition to this evening’s performance at Carnegie Hall.
In January 2015, the Emerson String Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America’s highest honor, in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field.