Eliso Virsaladze

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Eliso Virsaladze may not have name recognition of many of her keyboard contemporaries, but she is among the most highly respected performers of her generation, especially among fellow pianists, both past…
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Eliso Virsaladze may not have name recognition of many of her keyboard contemporaries, but she is among the most highly respected performers of her generation, especially among fellow pianists, both past and present. Sviatoslav Richter, for example, touted her as the finest Schumann interpreter of her time. Besides Schumann, Virsaladze is well known for her Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev. She also regularly appears in chamber music concerts with such artists as Natalia Gutman and the Borodin Quartet. Since 1967 she has taught music, and among her students are Boris Berezovsky and Aleksandar Madzar. Virsaladze has made numerous recordings for such labels as Melodiya and EuroArts.

Eliso Virsaladze was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1942. At eight she began pianos lessons with her grandmother, an exceptionally talented pianist and music teacher. Virsaladze's advanced studies were at the Tbilisi Conservatory, where her grandmother taught, and the Moscow Conservatory. Among her other notable teachers were Heinrich Neuhaus and Yakov Zak.

In 1962 Virsaladze entered the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and captured third prize. Four years later she won first prize at the 1966 Schumann International Competition in Zwickau, Germany.

Virsaladze began teaching at the Moscow Conservatory in 1967, becoming full professor in 1994. Gradually she built her concert career with regular tours across Europe, the U.S., South America, Japan, and Australia. She also appeared regularly in chamber music performances, though her collaborations with Natalia Gutman did not begin until the late '70s. Virsaladze also made frequent appearances at music festivals, including at the Moscow-based December Nights Festival, organized by Richter. Virsaladze's 1973 recording of the Schumann Second Sonata and 1980 recording of the First Sonata, on Melodiya, both drew critical acclaim, and she followed them with a spate of other recording successes. In 1989 Virsaladze was given the prestigious title of People's Artist of the U.S.S.R. In 1995 Virsaladze joined the faculty at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, a position she still holds along with her Moscow post.

In the new century, Virsaladze remained active on all fronts. Her 2003 appearance at the 300th anniversary Gala Concert in St. Petersburg, where she gave a scorching performance of the Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand, was issued on an acclaimed EuroArts DVD in 2004. Virsaladze regularly serves as a juror at important international piano competitions. Among them was the prestigious 2010 Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels.