Pianist, conductor, and composer Mikhail Pletnev was the Gold Medal and First Prize winner of the 1978 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition when he was 21, a prize that earned him early recognition worldwide. An invitation to perform at the 1988 superpower summit in Washington led to a friendship with Mikhail Gorbachev and the historic opportunity to make music in artistic freedom.
In 1990 Pletnev formed the first independent orchestra in Russia’s history. Many of the country’s finest musicians joined Pletnev in launching the Russian National Orchestra. Under his leadership as artistic director and principal conductor, the RNO has achieved great stature among the world’s orchestras. In 2006, he launched the Mikhail Pletnev Fund for the Support of National Culture, a nonprofit that supports major cultural initiatives, including the RNO’s annual Grand Festival that opens the Moscow cultural season each September.
Pletnev’s performances and recordings have shown him to be an outstanding interpreter of an extensive repertoire, both as pianist and conductor. The London Telegraph remarked, “from Pletnev’s fingers and brain come ideas that vitalise the music and make it teem with freshness and wit. [He] made the music positively leap for joy.” The Times describes his playing as “born of a prodigious virtuosity of imagination outrageous in its beauty.”