Russian National Orchestra

Mikhail Pletnev

Founder and Artistic Director

Full Biography

Photo Mikhail Pletnev's genius as pianist, conductor and composer enchants and amazes audiences around the globe. He was Gold Medal and First Prize winner of the 1978 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition when he was only 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, the RNO achieved in a few short years a towering stature among the world's orchestras. Pletnev describes the RNO as his greatest joy and today continues to serve as its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor.

Pletnev's performances and recordings have proved him to be an outstanding interpreter of an extensive repertoire, both as pianist and conductor. His recordings have earned numerous prizes including a 2005 Grammy Award for the CD of his own arrangement, for two pianos, of Prokofiev’s Cinderella. He received Grammy nominations for a CD of Schumann Symphonic Etudes (2004) and for his recording of Rachmaninov and Prokofiev Piano Concertos No. 3 with the RNO and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich (2003). His album of Scarlatti's Keyboard Sonatas (Virgin/EMI) received a Gramophone Award in 1996. BBC Music Magazine called the recording “piano playing at its greatest... this performance alone would be enough to secure Pletnev a place among the greatest pianists ever known.” His recording of the complete Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos (Deutsche Grammophon) was named “Best of 2007” by The New Yorker magazine.

Pletnev's compositions include works for orchestra, piano, strings and voices. His unrivalled transcriptions for piano of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and Sleeping Beauty were selected for the 1998 anthology “Great Pianists of the 20th Century” (Philips Classics).

Today he is one of Russia's most respected and influential artists. An advisor on Russia's Cultural Council, in 2007 Pletnev was awarded a Presidential Prize for his contributions to the artistic life of the country. Pianist, conductor, composer and cultural leader — all are significant facets of Mikhail Pletnev's life as an artist. Yet he considers himself, simply, a musician.