Pianist Kirill Gerstein’s heritage combines the traditions of Russian, American, and Central European music-making with an insatiable curiosity. These qualities and the relationships he’s developed with orchestras, conductors, instrumentalists, singers, and composers have led him to explore a huge spectrum of repertoire, both new and old. From Bach to Thomas Adès, Mr. Gerstein’s playing is distinguished by its clarity of expression, discerning intelligence, and virtuosity as well as an energetic, imaginative musical presence that places him at the top of his profession.
Born in the former Soviet Union, Mr. Gerstein is an American citizen based in Berlin. His career is similarly international, with worldwide performances ranging from concerts with the Chicago, Bavarian Radio, Boston, and London symphony orchestras; Leipzig Gewandhaus and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestras; and Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic orchestras to recitals in London, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, and New York.
A longtime believer in the importance of teaching, Mr. Gerstein is currently on the faculty of the Kronberg Academy and a professor of piano at Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin. Under the auspices of the Kronberg Academy, his series of free and open online seminars called Kirill Gerstein Invites, which features conversations with leading musicians, artists, and thinkers, is now in its third season. Guest speakers so far have included Andreas Staier, Brad Mehldau, Iván Fischer, Alex Ross, Elizabeth Wilson, Simon McBurney, Gerard McBurney, Robert Levin, Reinhard Goebel, Simon Callow, and Mr. Adès.
Mr. Gerstein’s decade-long relationship with Mr. Adès recently produced two recordings: the world premiere performance of his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, which he wrote for Mr. Gerstein, on the Deutsche Grammophon label, and a compendium of his works for piano on the myrios classics label. Both discs garnered an impressive series of accolades, including a 2021 International Classical Music Award, a 2020 Gramophone Award, and three Grammy Award nominations. In May 2021, in Amsterdam, Mr. Gerstein premiered another work written for him, Thomas Larcher’s Piano Concerto, which was co-commissioned by the Berlin, Czech, and Netherlands Radio philharmonic orchestras and Vienna Konzerthaus.
Kirill Gerstein’s latest recording features Mozart’s Sonatas for Piano Four Hands with his longtime mentor, Ferenc Rados, for myrios classics. He first collaborated with myrios in 2010, and through the partnership, he’s been able to realize many thoughtfully curated projects, including R. Strauss’s Enoch Arden with Bruno Ganz, recorded shortly before the actor’s death in February 2019; Busoni’s monumental Piano Concerto with conductor Sakari Oramo and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and The Gershwin Moment with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, featuring special appearances by vocalist Storm Large and Mr. Gerstein’s jazz mentor, Gary Burton. Mr. Gerstein is also featured on LAWO Classics’ Scriabin cycle, performing Prometheus: The Poem of Fire and the Piano Concerto with Vasily Petrenko and the Oslo Philharmonic, and he plays works by Tchaikovsky with Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic as part of The Tchaikovsky Project, released by Decca Classics.
Kirill Gerstein was born in in Voronezh, Russia, in 1979. He attended one of the country’s special music schools for gifted children and taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parents’ record collection. Following a chance encounter with jazz legend Gary Burton in St. Petersburg when he was 14, he was invited to become the youngest student to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied jazz piano while also pursuing his classical piano studies. At the age of 16, Mr. Gerstein decided to focus on classical music. He completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Solomon Mikowsky, and then undertook further studies with Dmitri Bashkirov in Madrid and Ferenc Rados in Budapest. Mr. Gerstein is the sixth recipient of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award, and he also won first prize at the Tenth Arthur Rubinstein Competition and an Avery Fisher Career Grant.