There are certain musicians who God and Fate have destined to follow an artistic path by way of which they become figures in the art of music who open new horizons for future generations. Yury Bashmet is undoubtedly such a musician, having established the viola as a leading instrument on the contemporary concert stage.
Yury Bashmet was born in 1953 in Rostov-on-Don. In 1971, he graduated from the Lvov Special Musical Middle School and entered the Moscow Conservatory, where his teachers were Professors Vadim Borisovsky and Fyodor Druzhinin. While still a student, he received awards at international competitions in Budapest, in 1975 (2nd prize), and Munich, in1976 (1st prize). His phenomenal gifts as a musician were widely noted at the time. “In terms of interpretive perfection and brilliance of tone, he can only be compared to David Oistrakh,” wrote a German newspaper.
Yury Bashmet is one of the few contemporary musicians whose authority is universally respected.
He has appeared as a soloist with the leading orchestras of the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic and Orchestre National de France.
Contemporary composers – among them, Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaydulina, Edison Denisov, Mikhail Tariverdiyev, John Tavener, Ghia Kancheli and Alexander Tchaikovsky – have specially composed for him or dedicated to him more than 50 works.
Yury Bashmet took up conducting in 1982 and, in doing so, brought added luster to his reputation as a bold and fearless contemporary musician.
In 1992, Bashmet founded the Moscow Soloists chamber ensemble, made up of highly talented young graduates and graduate students of the Moscow Conservatory. In 2008, Moscow Soloists, together with Bashmet, won a Grammy Award and became the first Russian chamber ensemble ever to receive that coveted prize in its entire 50-year history.
Since 2002, Bashmet has served as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of New Russia State Chamber Orchestra. Subscription concerts in the major concert halls of Moscow have revealed the scale Bashmet’s musicianship. Masterpieces of Russian music, works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich; European classics, the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert; and contemporary works by such composers as Schnittke, Gubaydulina and Kancheli – in all of these, the polished interpretations of the Maestro have served reveal the secrets of their musical language.
Film and television companies several countries, including England, France and Russia, have documented Bashmet’s artistry. The Maestro himself has created and serves as host of the television program “Station of Dreams.”
Yury Bashmet and Sviatoslav Richter enjoyed a long-standing artistic friendship and performed together in many concerts in Russia and abroad. Richter served for 16 years as Artistic Director of the world-renowned “December Nights” festival in Moscow. Following Richter’s death, that position was inherited by Bashmet.
Bashmet is the founder and chairman of the world’s first and only viola competition, which takes place in Moscow.
He has also founded an international charitable fund which has created the Dmitry Shostakovich Prize, awarded annually for achievements in the world of art. Its recipients have been Gidon Kremer, Thomas Quasthoff, Viktor Tretyakov, Valery Gergiev, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Olga Borodina, Irina Antonova, Hataliya Gutman, Yevgeny Kissin, Maxim Vengerov, Alexei Ratmansky, Yefim Bonfman, Denis Matsuyev, Tan Dun.
Bashmet has participated in many important charitable events: at Carnegie Hall in New York, together with Elton John and Stevie Wonder; in London, in memory of Princess Diana; and in concerts dedicated to raising funds to assist those who suffered from natural disasters in Armenia and Japan and in aid of handicapped children.
It is difficult to overestimate Bashmet’s contribution to world peace. As a citizen of the world and a brilliant musician, his name belongs among those of the leading figures of the 20th and 21st centuries.
“Yury Bashmet, as an outstanding violist and one of the world’s great musicians, has revived interest in the viola.” China News