The multifaceted pianist Kirill Gerstein has rapidly ascended into classical music’s highest ranks. His early training and experience in jazz has contributed an important element to his interpretive style.
Mr. Gerstein is the sixth recipient of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award. Since receiving the award in 2010, Mr. Gerstein has shared his prize through the commissioning of boundary-crossing works by Timo Andres, Chick Corea, Alexander Goehr, Oliver Knussen, and Brad Mehldau. Mr. Gerstein was awarded First Prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv, received a 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award, and a 2010 Avery Fisher Grant.
In the 2018/2019 season Gerstein gives the world premiere performance of Thomas Adès’ new Piano Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer, with performances in Boston and in Carnegie Hall, New York. Elsewhere in this season, Gerstein appears with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder. He performs in China with the Shanghai and Guangzhou Symphony Orchestras, with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, and the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paolo. He plays recitals in London, Stuttgart, Lisbon, Singapore, Melbourne and Copenhagen, as well as chamber performances with the Hagen Quartet, Veronika Eberle and Clemens Hagen in Lucerne, and with actor Bruno Ganz for recitals in Germany and Austria.
In autumn 2018 Gerstein’s recording of Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, with the Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko was released on LAWO Classic’s. Future recording releases this season include Busoni’s Piano Concerto on myrios classics in spring 2019 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto Nos. 1–3 in summer 2019, part of Semyon Bychkov’s Tchaikovsky Project recorded for Decca with the Czech Philharmonic.
Born in 1979 in Voronezh, in southwestern Russia, Mr. Gerstein studied piano at a special music school for gifted children and while studying classical music, taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parents’ extensive record collection. After coming to the attention of vibraphonist Gary Burton, who was performing at a music festival in the Soviet Union, Mr. Gerstein came to the United States at 14 to study jazz piano as the youngest student ever to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. After completing his studies in three years and following his second summer at the Boston University program at Tanglewood, Mr. Gerstein turned his focus back to classical music and moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Solomon Mikowsky and earned both Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees by the age of 20. He continued his studies in Madrid with Dmitri Bashkirov and in Budapest with Ferenc Rados. An American citizen since 2003, Mr. Gerstein now divides his time between the United States and Germany.
A committed teacher and pedagogue, Gerstein taught at the Stuttgart Musik Hochschule from 2007–2017 and from autumn 2018 he teaches as part of Kronberg Academy’s newly announced Sir András Schiff Performance Programme for Young Artists.
Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Czech Philharmonic
Principal Guest Conductor, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Laureate, BBC Symphony (London)
Renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek was appointed Music Director and Artistic Director of the Czech Philharmonic in 2012, following on from his successful tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now a Conductor Laureate. He was Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (1977–89), Music Director of the Prague Philharmonia (1994–2004), was appointed President of the Prague Spring Festival in 2006. From 2013 to 2017, he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
In opera, he has collaborated with the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, the Teatro Real Madrid, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Zurich Opera, and the National Theatre in Prague. He has also conducted and recorded several opera-in-concert presentations with the BBC Symphony, to great acclaim. Confirming his preeminence as the conductor of Janacek, this past season he conducted the Czech Phil in a concert presentation of Jenůfa at the London Royal Festival Hall, as well as in full production the San Francisco Opera. This was followed by a performance of Janacek The Makropulos Case with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
Under his leadership the Czech Philharmonic is enjoying unprecedented success both at home in Prague, and on extensive tours. Together they have toured in the past three seasons on three continents, including Europe, Asia and North America. Their recent residency in Vienna at the Musikverein was a great success, and has lead to similar events being planned in other world capitals. The Czech Philharmonic announced in January 2017 that their partnership with Maestro Bělohlávek is now officially extended to 2022!
In addition to his ongoing Prague seasons and touring engagements with the Czech, he continues to perform as a guest conductor with the world’s major orchestras, including recent appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (including at the London Proms), New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Symphony, and Deutsches Symphony Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In the coming season, in addition to major projects with Czech Phil, he looks forward to engagements with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra Munich, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonic, and more.
With the Czech Philharmonic, he will conduct a major Asian tour in Autumn 2017 with concerts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, in addition to appearances on tour in Europe, the highlight of which will be a performance of Janáček Glagolitic Mass at the Salzburg Festival in August 2018.
Jiří Bělohlávek has recorded extensively, with recent projects with the Czech Philharmonic including the complete symphonies and concertos of Dvořák. The series with Decca continues in the coming season, when a major disc of Suk will be recorded.
In 2012 he was awarded an honorary CBE for his services to British music.
Dvořák composed Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60 spontaneously in the fall of 1880. It is the first work of Dvořák’s symphonic series to be published in print and as the first of all his symphonies it was performed abroad. The symphony was created during a short time span. Dvořák sketched it between 27 August and 20 September 1880 and finished the score soon afterwards between 27 September and 15 October. This took place in his “Slavic” period when during the previous two years 1878–1880 he composed three Slavonic Rhapsodies, the first series of his Slavonic Dances, Czech Suite and Violin Concerto in A minor.
Symphony No. 6 is an optimistic work with a warm and sunny atmosphere. Dvořák said that he tried to write a viable work which would please him as well. The countless reviews and analyzes of this composition are clearly dominated by the opinion that this is an essentially intrinsically Czech work of a healthy and earthy character, very pleasant and typical of Dvořák. It is undoubtedly also thanks to the fiery dance furiant, suggesting an affinity with Slavonic Dances. The Symphony in D major has a classical formal structure and its sections are well balanced. Its symphonic expression is enriched by a strong national accent. The sonata allegro of the first movement overflows with jubilant joy; Dvořák here primarily works with the main idea. In doing so he lavishly presents a number of other great musical ideas. Adagio of the second movement in the form of song is deeply meditative as well as lyrical. Scherzo of the third movement is a stylization of furiant with two vivid themes and, which has a gentle charm of a trio. The finale is a culmination of previous sections with dazzling joy and celebration of life.
According to the magazine Dalibor of 14 November 1891 Dvořák dedicated the concert overture Othello Op. 93 to Hans von Bülow. By representing the destructive passion of jealousy, it has the most dramatic, the most extensive and the most concrete program of the trilogy based on the pentatonic motifs. Dvořák began it in November 1891, but he had to interrupt the work because he went to England to attend the premiere of his Requiem in Birmingham on 9 October 1891. However, on 18 January 1892 the score was already finished. Othello is still in the classical sonata form, although in a rather loose concept, and unlike the two earlier overtures, full of expressive impulses, it is strongly dramatized.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote his first concertante work, the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in B flat minor Op. 23 in 1874, when he was teaching at the Moscow Conservatory. He intended to dedicate the work to a pianist much admired at the time, Nikolay Rubinstein, who was not only Tchaikovsky’s senior colleague, but also a close friend. Rubinstein, however, did not fully appreciate this act: when on 5 January 1875, just before the Orthodox Christmas, the composer played the solo piano part of his recently completed concerto for him, Rubinstein responded with severe criticism and refused to perform the work publicly. He described it as weakly composed, unplayable and vulgar. Following this embarrassment, Tchaikovsky offered his first piano concerto to the German virtuoso pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow, who concertized in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre the previous year and much impressed the composer.
The first performance of the Piano Concerto in B flat minor took place on 25 October 1875 in America, in Boston Music Hall, where the soloist von Bülow, to whom the work was ultimately dedicated, appeared alongside the American conductor Benjamin Johnson Lang. Before long most of the leading pianists of the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had added the concerto to their repertories. Even Nikolay Rubinstein, who originally spurned the work, conducted its Moscow premiere and often performed the solo part on his European tours.
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