Pianist Kirill Gerstein’s curiosity and versatility has led to a powerful engagement with a wide range of repertoire and styles. From Bach to Adès, his playing is distinguished by its clarity of expression, discerning intelligence and virtuosity. Mr. Gerstein’s energetic and imaginative musical personality has rapidly taken him to 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 solo and concerto engagements taking him across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. An important focus of last season was the world première of Thomas Adès’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and composed especially for Mr. Gerstein, the concerto is the outcome of a long and productive relationship with both orchestra and composer. Following the world première in Boston and subsequent New York and European premières (Carnegie Hall with Boston and Leipzig Gewandhaus), this season, Mr. Gerstein and Mr. Adès present the new piece in London with the London Philharmonic Orchestra; Munich with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra; Amsterdam with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Helsinki with the Helsinki Philharmonic; and Los Angeles with the LA Philharmonic. Mr. Gerstein also performs the concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra with Alan Gilbert on the podium.
Mr. Gerstein’s 2019-20 season also includes returns to the Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and San Diego symphonies, as well as the launch of a two-year cycle of the complete Rachmaninoff works for piano and orchestra with the Minnesota Orchestra. To mark Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, Mr. Gerstein opens the Chicago Symphony’s piano series which surveys the complete piano sonatas, and performs all five Piano Concertos with the Grand Rapids and San Antonio symphonies. His recital program juxtaposes works by Adès, Bartók, and Kurtág with Haydn, Schubert, Brahms, and Liszt, and will be performed at the Berliner Philharmonie, London’s Wigmore Hall, and New York’s Zankel Hall. He also collaborates with the Hagen Quartet in Paris and Hungary.
Kirill Gerstein’s recent North American engagements includes performances with the New York Philharmonic, and the Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, National, Detroit, Toronto and Cincinnati symphonies, as well as recital appearances in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, Miami, and at Princeton and Duke Universities. In Europe, Mr. Gerstein has played with such prominent European orchestras as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Munich, London and Oslo Philharmonics and the Finnish Radio Orchestra. He has performed recitals in Vienna, Paris, Prague, Hamburg, London’s Wigmore Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, and at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. He has also appeared at the Salzburg Festival as well as at Verbier, the Lucerne and Edinburgh Festivals, the Proms in London and the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival.
Mr. Gerstein’s recordings for myrios classics include a live recording of Busoni’s Piano Concerto with the Boston Symphony conducted by Sakari Oramo and The Gershwin Moment, featuring live recordings of the composer’s Piano Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Robertson, selections from Earl Wild’s Virtuoso Etudes after Gershwin, and collaborations with vibraphonist Gary Burton and vocalist Storm Large. Also on myrios are Liszt’s Transcendental Études, chosen by The New Yorker as one of 2016’s most notable recordings; Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in the composer’s own final version from 1879; Imaginary Pictures, which pairs Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with Schumann’s Carnaval; and a solo album of works by Schumann, Liszt and Oliver Knussen. Mr. Gerstein also recorded Scriabin’s Piano Concerto Op. 20 and Prometheus: The Poem of Fire with the Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko, released on two recordings from LAWO Classics. Mr. Gerstein’s next recording has him performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concertos with Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic on “The Tchaikovsky Project” boxed set for Decca.
As a child, Mr. Gerstein studied both classical and jazz piano. He moved to the U.S. where, at age 14, he was the youngest student to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Shifting his focus to the classical repertoire, he studied with Solomon Mikowsky in New York, Dmitri Bashkirov in Madrid and Ferenc Rados in Budapest. Gerstein has received a series of prestigious accolades, including First Prize at the 10th Arthur Rubinstein Competition in 2001 and a Gilmore Young Artist Award in 2002. In 2010 he was awarded both an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Gilmore Artist Award, which provided the funds for him to commission new works from Timo Andres, Chick Corea, Alexander Goehr, Oliver Knussen, and Brad Mehldau.
Keenly aware of the importance of working with young musicians, Mr. Gerstein taught at the Stuttgart Hochschule Musik from 2007-2017 and, beginning in the fall of 2018, began teaching at the Kronberg Academy’s newly announced Sir András Schiff Performance Program for Young Artists.