Although the U.S.S.R.'s system of identifying and training musically talented youngsters produced amazingly precocious pianists on a regular basis, Evgeny Kissin stood out from the rest for a talent far surpassing that of the usual Wunderkind. He has become, seemingly without difficulty, one of the finest adult pianists on the world's concert stages. His life was marked by early milestones. At two, he began playing and improvising at the piano. At six he was admitted to the Gnessin School of Music for Gifted Children. Anna Pavlovna Kantor was his teacher at the Gnessin School, and she remained his only teacher, even traveling and living with his family. At ten, he debuted playing Mozart's Piano Concerto, K. 466, with the Orchestra of Ulyanovsky. His first solo recital was in Moscow at age 11. In March 1984, when he was 12, he played both Chopin concertos in the Moscow Conservatory Great Hall with Dmitri Kitaenko conducting the Moscow State Philharmonic, which also became his first recording.
An appearance at the 1987 Berlin Festival, where he played Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan, was his debut in the West. He was then 16 and was hailed as a remarkable and mature artist. Recording contracts with western companies were soon to follow. He returned to Western Europe for a 1988 tour with the Moscow Virtuosi, Vladimir Spivakov conducting. In the same year he debuted at the BBC Promenade Concerts with David Atherton conducting, and closed out the year at the traditional Berlin Philharmonic New Year's Eve concert under Karajan.
The two Chopin concertos were the vehicles for his American debut with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic. Ten days later he followed this with a sensational New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall. Predictions of a major piano career were common, and have since been entirely borne out.
Kissin won a Grammy in 2006 for his recording of Scriabin, Medtner, and Stravinsky; and another in 2010 for the Prokofiev Concertos Nos. 2 and 3. For the 2011-2012 season, Kissin had tours planned not only for Asia and Australia, but Europe and the Americas as well.