12 Things to Know about Evgeny Kissin

April 17, 2023

The Gilmore welcomes classical piano master Evgeny Kissin, playing solo and in partnership with superstar soprano Renée Fleming on Saturday, May 27, 2023 at 8 PM at Chenery Auditorium.  

In learning more about Evgeny Kissin’s life and career, we discovered a range of interesting facts about him. Here are just a few.  

  1. Young Evgeny began humming a Bach fugue at only 11 months old after hearing his sister play it on the piano – which took up much space in the family’s small apartment. By two, he was improvising on the keyboard, and entered formal study at six. 
  2. Born in Moscow in 1971, Mr. Kissin became a British citizen in 2002 and an Israeli citizen in 2013. He now resides in Prague with his wife, Karina Arzumanova, a childhood friend whom he married in 2017. 
  3. Evgeny Kissin had only one teacher from the age of six, until her death in 2021 – she even lived with the family for a number of years. Of her passing, he said “My old teacher Anna Pavlovna Kantor just left this world … Everything I am able to do on the piano I owe to her. She was a truly remarkable woman, a person of rare integrity and purity. Blessed be her memory always…”
  4. Mr. Kissin made his North American debut in 1990, 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 debut recital recorded live by BMG Classics.
  5. He was a special guest at the 1992 Grammy Awards Ceremony, which was broadcast live to an audience estimated at more than a billion.   
  6. In September 2001 Kissin and his manager drove to Philadelphia for an engagement just after the World Trade Center bombings, as they were unable to fly. Gilmore Artistic and Executive Director Pierre van der Westhuizen was in Pittsburgh for the concert. “I remember standing outside the hall, listening to him rehearse. The impact of that moment and the healing power of that performance is something I will never forget. He is truly a genius in the truest sense of the word. We use that word so much, but he is the real deal.”  
  7. Mr. Kissin might prefer performing rather than speaking about music, having said, “I personally don’t like describing music in words, because music for me is higher than words.”  
  8. Returning to composing in recent years, Kissin has said “The very fact that I started composing again came to me as a surprise.” His work has been published by G. Henle Verlag, a venerable German publishing concern noted for its primarily historical catalog. 
  9. Kissin was named Musical America’s youngest-ever Instrumentalist of the Year in 1995. 
  10. In 1997, he gave the first solo piano recital in the history of The Proms in London, a long-standing summer music series founded in 1895 as Henry Wood Promenade Concerts (find it on YouTube). 
  11. Kissin has won two Grammy Awards, first in 2006 for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra) and in 2010 for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra).  
  12. In 2017 Kissin published his autobiography, Memoirs and Reflections, and was the subject of Christopher Nupen’s 1998 documentary, Evgeny Kissin: The Gift of Music.

“No matter how big or complex a work, he has an unerring mastery both of the fine detail and the architecture.” – The Economist  

Please join us on May 27, 2023 at 8 PM at Chenery Auditorium to hear Evgeny Kissin and Renée Fleming. Purchase tickets online, or via the Community Box Office.

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