Great Pianists – Evgeny Kissin

07/01/2014 11:27 am


Great Pianists

There is literally nothing negative I can say about Evgeny Kissin’s playing. I have been a fan ever since I began playing and my admiration for this amazing player has only grown over the years. Unfortunately I have not had the chance to see him perform live yet but will make an effort then next time his tour comes through New York. He is particularly known for his interpretation of the Romantic era and his Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninoff are especially delightful.


Evgeny Kissin was born in Moscow. He was quickly recognized as a child prodigy, and at age six, he began his piano studies at the esteemed Gnessin State Musical College for Gifted Children. It was during his time at this school that he became a student of Anna Kantor, Kissin’s only piano teacher.

When he was only ten years old, Kissin made his concert debut performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor with the Ulyanovsk Symphony Orchestra. Kissin’s talents were revealed on the international scene in 1984, at the age of twelve, when he played and recorded both of Chopin’s piano concertos with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire. Kissin’s 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 as well as his United Kingdom debut, alongside conductor Valery Gergiev and violinists Maxim Vengerov and Vadim Repin, at The Lichfield 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 played Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Herbert von Karajan at the Berlin Philharmonic’s New Year’s Eve Concert which was broadcast internationally, with the performance repeated the following year at the Salzburg Easter Festival. In September 1990, Kissin made his debut in North America playing Chopin’s two piano concertos with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and the first piano recital in Carnegie Hall’s centennial season. In 1997, he gave the first solo piano recital in the history of The Proms in London.

My Favorites

One of my favorite all time pieces of music is Chopin’s 2nd Piano Concerto in F minor. I heard this piece performed live in Buenos Aires at the Teatro Colon and immediately fell in love with this wonderful work. When I finally heard Kissin’s performance, it only made me that much more of a fan of this concerto. Below you can listen to Kissin perform the first movement and watch how effortlessly he plays the most difficult passages.

Awards & Recognition

  • Musical America, Instrumentalist of the Year, 1994
  • Triumph Award, Outstanding Contribution to Russia’s Culture (Youngest Awardee), 1997
  • Honorary Doctorate of Music by the Manhattan School of Music, New York 2001
  • Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music 2005
  • Herbert von Karajan Award, Baden-Baden, Germany (2005)
  • Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra), 2006
  • Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Award, Brescia, Italy 2007
  • Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra), 2009
  • Honorary Doctoral Degree by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem 2010

What do you think of his playing?

Some Performances

1 Comment

  • Meredith Willis

    Evgeny Kissin is a brilliant pianist. He is certainly one of my favorite pianist. I enjoy the passion of his presence and his personal artistic expression when he is playing the piano. Kissin has selected the works of my favorite composer Chopin. Chopin is a brilliant composer that created: Opus numbers, Ballades, Études , Mazurkas , Nocturnes, Polonaises, Preludes and Waltzes. I would like to study more about these works. I would like to learn more about Chopin’s works as a more focused concentration.

    It has been challenging for me to find my own style of genre to explore while learning to play piano. I know that I will never play at the level of Kissen; yet there is no crime in trying 🙂 Oh my… a journey of a billion miles begins with a single step.

    Actually, having the opportunity to see Kissen play in person would check off one of those items on my bucket list. Learning to read and play with musical expression focused on the works of Chopin would check off another item on my bucket list.

    I did not know that you saw him play live. Wow!

    I am posting one of my favorite performances by Kissen which includes one of my favorite Chopin works.

    Thank you for sharing this Bio on Evgeny Kissin.