Grande dame of piano to play with Sofia Philharmonic

Elisabeth Leonskaja is often referred to as the “ambassador plenipotentiary” of Sviatoslav Richter

Elisabeth Leonskaja

On 18 February, the Sofia Philharmonic will be sharing the stage at Bulgaria Hall with one of the grande dames of piano - Elisabeth Leonskaja. Under the conduction of Robert Farkas, the legendary pianist will perform Piano Concerto No. 3 by Bеla Bartоk. The second part of the evening will feature Symphony No. 39 by Mozart.

Leonskaja is often referred to as the “ambassador plenipotentiary” of Sviatoslav Richter. On stage, she brings to life not only Richter's reserved passion, but the spirit of his era. “Every generation searches for its own Beethoven, its own Schubert, and every generation hears music a bit differently because our mentality and inner life change,” she says. “We never know who has a better ear for music - those who attend a concert in jeans or those decked out in finery and diamond brooches,” she observes. It is impossible not to agree with Elisabeth Leonskaja: yes, every generation seeks and finds its own Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Mendelssohn. Fortunately, we have people like her to connect several generations and eras.

Elisabeth (born Elizaveta) Leonskaja is one of the most celebrated pianists of our time. Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, to Russian parents, she was an exceptionally gifted child who gave her first concert at the age of 11. Her exceptional talent soon brought her to study at the Moscow Conservatory. While still a student at the Conservatory, she won prizes in prestigious international piano competitions such as George Enescu (Bucharest), Marguerite Long and Jacques Thibaud (Paris) and Queen Elizabeth (Brussels).

Elisabeth Leonskaja's musical development was largely shaped or influenced by her collaboration with Sviatoslav Richter, with whom she shared a dear friendship until his death in 1997. The master recognised her exceptional talent and fostered her development not only through teaching and musical advice, but also by inviting her to play numerous duets with him. In 1978 Elisabeth Leonskaja left the Soviet Union to make Vienna her new home. Her sensational performance at the Salzburg Festival in 1979 marked the beginning of her steadily blossoming career as a concert pianist in the west.

She has played with every major orchestra and has worked with the likes of Kurt Masur, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph Eschenbach, Mariss Jansons, Yuri Temirkanov and many others.

She is a frequent and welcome guest to prestigious music festivals in Salzburg, Vienna, Lucerne and Edinburgh. Among the many awards that she has won are the 2020 Opus Klassic as well as the 2020 International Classical Music (ICMA) Lifetime Achievement Award. The ICMAs are considered the only independent awards in the sphere, with nominations determined by music journalists from various parts of the world.

Leonskaja is an honorary member of the Vienna Konzerthaus. In 2006 she was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class, which is the highest award in Austria.

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