Concert Pianist, Silver Medalist,
IX Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
In his North American debut at the Ninth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1993, Russian pianist, Valery Kuleshov, was awarded the Silver Medal as well as the Prize for Best Performance of the Commissioned Work, Ghost Waltzes, by American composer, Morton Gould.
The Dallas Morning News wrote of his first recital during the competition: “He proceeded to light up the sky, setting off pyrotechnical rockets of sound and showering the audience with sweeps of notes as exciting as they were exceptional.” His performance in the final round prompted the Le Monde reviewer to exclaim, “What sound! What allure! What a musician!”
Valery Kuleshov was born in 1962 in Chelyabinsk, Russia. At the age of seven, he entered the Central Musical School of the Moscow Conservatory. At the age of nine, he made his concert debut with a symphony orchestra in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. He earned his Master’s Degree at Gnessin Academy of Music and his Doctoral Degree from the State Jewish Academy, both in Moscow. He studied with some of the best Russian pianists, including Dmitry Bashkirov, Nikolai Petrov, and Vladimir Tropp. In addition, Mr. Kuleshov studied at the International Piano Foundation in Italy with the world’s most acclaimed piano teachers, including Karl Ulrich Schnabel and Leon Fleischer.
Mr. Kuleshov’s first major international success was at the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition in Italy in 1987, where he became one of two winners, receiving the Gold Medal. That year, he began intensive concert activity in Russia and abroad.
The Soviet Culture newspaper, in an article entitled “The Mysterious Unrecognized Genius— A New Horowitz” wrote: “….Kuleshov — the person of a unique virtuoso gift. He has managed to revive and re-create the world of great virtuosos of the past. A deep penetration into the essence of music, and a most laborious operation over the sound are peculiar to him. His performance of Schumann’s Kreisleriana at the competition was just amazing, and this composition can be mastered only by mature musicians.”
The name of Vladimir Horowitz was not accidentally mentioned. Valery Kuleshov has accomplished the unique and difficult work of writing out, from listening only to the LP recordings, the great master’s unpublished piano transcriptions. After listening to the recordings of his transcriptions played by Mr. Kuleshov, Vladimir Horowitz wrote to the young musician: “I was not only delighted by your fantastic performances, but I congratulate you on your keen ear and great patience that were required to write out, note by note, the scores of these unpublished transcriptions, by listening to my recordings.” (October 6, 1987).
Documented by historic photographs, their meeting in 1989 at Horowitz’s apartment in New York was touching and intimate. The maestro not only listened to the young virtuoso play, but also gave him most valuable advice and offered to give him consultations free of charge. The great pianist’s death left this plan unrealized.
Valery Kuleshov’s recording career includes his award-winning performance at the Ninth Van Cliburn Competition which was released on CD worldwide on the Philips label. The Gramophone review stated, “Valery Kuleshov declares his nationality in every bar, roaring and whispering Liszt's bravura to the heavens, and I doubt whether the Six Paganini Eludes have often been given with such a gloriously spontaneous verve and glitter.” In addition, these performances were featured in the award-winning documentary, A Life in Music, on the PBS network. Previous reordings were released for JVC Victor, Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga (Gramophone), and MCA Classic labels.
In 1997, by decree of the President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, Valery Kuleshov was awarded the rare distinction “Honored Artist of the Russian Federation.”
Soon after this recognition, he became the single winner of the Pro Piano International Piano Competition in New York and was a great success later in October of the same year in his Carnegie Hall recital.
In addition to maintaining an international performing schedule, Valery Kuleshov has, since 1999, served as artist-in-residence at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma. His upcoming concert schedule will include performances in North America, South America, Russia, Italy, Spain, and Canada. A new solo album “HOMMAGE A HOROWITZ” was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden in the summer of 2000 (BBC Music Magazine). In 2001 another new recording was released on Bel Air Music label. It was recorded in Moscow, Russia and contains Rachmaninov Piano Concerto#3 and Tchaikovsky’s Concert Fantasy Op.56 with the Russian State Orchestra.
Among those who belong to the new generation of musicians, Valery Kuleshov’s name is in the centre of attention of the public, press, radio and television today. With good reason one can assert that Valery Kuleshov has unique artistic potential and a great future is in store for him.