Boris Petrushansky

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Boris Petrushansky is one of the most respected Russian pianists of his generation, though his career has in part been overlooked by the concert-going public, not least because of a focus on older iconic…
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Boris Petrushansky is one of the most respected Russian pianists of his generation, though his career has in part been overlooked by the concert-going public, not least because of a focus on older iconic keyboard figures from the former Soviet Union, like Richter and Gilels, and younger ones like Ashkenazy and Pletnev. Petrushansky's repertory is broad, encompassing Brahms, Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, as well as modern composers. He has made a number of recordings, especially since his migration to the West, but mostly for smaller labels.

Petrushansky was born in Moscow in 1949 to musician parents. He began piano lessons at five, and at 15 (1964) met pianist Heinrich Neuhaus, who then took young Boris on as a student. Neuhaus died later that same year (October), but left a lasting impression on Petrushansky, who would shortly go on to achieve success in two competitions -- Leeds (1969) and Munich (1971).

1975 was the breakthrough year in Petrushansky's career: he graduated from the Moscow Conservatory (having completed his piano studies under Neuhaus-protégée Lev Naumov), then won first prize at the Alessandro Casagrande Competition in Terni, Italy. Then, at Italy's Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival, he replaced Richter and scored a great triumph with critics and audiences alike.

Though his career had been on the ascent in the Soviet Union and abroad in the early '70s, Petrushansky had become an international figure in the musical world after 1975, with a heavy concert schedule throughout Europe, the Soviet Union, United States, Japan, Australia, and elsewhere. He was also busy teaching at the Moscow Conservatory from 1975-1979.

Petrushansky continued to concertize as well as record in the 1980s, but left the Soviet Union later in the decade and took up residency in Italy in 1990. Soon he began making a number of critically praised recordings. Among his more important earlier efforts was a 1994 three-disc set of the 24 Preludes and Fugues of Dmitry Shostakovich on the Dynamic Italy label. Other releases appearing later on, all on the Agora label, included works byChopin (Three Impromptus, Four Mazurkas, Four Ballades), Schumann (Fantasia, Op. 17, and Sonata No. 1), and Liszt (Années de pèlerinage -- Second Year, et. al.). Petrushansky began teaching at the International Piano Academy in Imola in 1991, and the following year took a teaching position in Genoa at the Accademia Ducale. He still held both posts in 2006.