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Yuri Bashmet. Pure Sound is Like Being in Love
August 10, 2007 17:16

Yuri Bashmet was born in 1953 in Rostov-on-Don in Russia and spent his childhood in Lvov in the Ukraine. He began studying at the Moscow Conservatoire at the age of eighteen, first with Vadim Borisovsky, violist of the Beethoven Quartet, and later with Feodor Druzhinin. He subsequently became the youngest person ever to be appointed to a professorship at the Moscow Conservatoire. In 1976, Bashmet won first prize at the International Viola Competition in Munich, which launched his international career.

Yuri Bashmet has inspired many composers to write for him. He enjoyed an especially close and productive relationship with Alfred Schnittke, and premiered the composer's Viola Concerto at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 1986. The work has since become firmly established in the repertoire.

Other works written for Bashmet include Georgian composer Giya Kancheli's Viola Concerto, which the violist premiered at the Berlin Festival, The Myrrh Bearer by John Tavener, a concerto by Poul Ruders and Sofia Gubaidulina's Viola Concerto, which he premiered with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Kent Nagano in April 1997. Bashmet also gave the world premiere of Benjamin Britten's recently edited Double Concerto for violin and viola with Gidon Kremer and the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano in Manchester in February 1998.

 As a solist and conductor, Bashmet has performed with leading symphony orchestras: Berliner Philharmoniker, Berlin Symphony, New York Philharmonic, rische Rundfunk, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Wiener Philharmonic, Orchestra Radio France, Orchestre de Paris, etc. Repertoire with these orchestras has included the symphonic works of Brahms, Haydn, Schubert, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven. A particularly noted concert at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow featured Shostakovich's Symphony No. 13.

Bashmet plays a Testore viola made in 1758, which he bought in 1971. It is the same make as Mozart's viola - with just three years difference in the instruments' ages! Bashmet has actually played Mozart's instrument (housed in the birthplace museum in Salzburg), the first player since the composer to do so, performing the Sinfonia concertante at the Mozarteum Salzburg. He was intrigued at the individual characteristics of each instrument; his the more projecting, Mozart's more suitable for chamber music, but with a very rich colour.

Yuri Bashmet is a founder and a Jury Chairman of the International Contest of Violists in Moscow, the first and only event of its kind in Russia. He is the President of the L. Tertis International Contest of Violists in Great Britain, the member of Jury for the violists’ contests in Munich and “Maurice Vie” in Paris.

As a further commitment to his homeland, Bashmet founded the International Foundation which bears his name in 1994. It awards the 'Shostakovich Prize' each year - recipients have included Gidon Kremer, Anne-Sofie Mutter, Viktor Tretiakov, Valery Gergiev, Olga Borodina and Thomas Quastoff. There are also modest stipends for young musicians as well as grants for retired musicians or dependants, such as the wife of the 'grandfather of Russian viola', Vadim Borisovsky, who is nearly 100 years old.

In addition to his Professorship at the world-renowned Moscow Conservatory, Bashmet's teaching and master-class activities extend throughout Europe. He traditionally spends ten days in Siena each August as Professor of Viola at the Music Academy there. In addition he has - when time has permitted - given master-classes throughout the world.


Irina Fomina


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