The Russian conductor Valery Polyansky is recognized today as a leading interpreter of the works of Sergei Rachmaninov and a number of other Russian composers. Appointed music director in 1992, he has led the Russian State Symphony Orchestra to new heights of achievement and artistic integrity.
Polyansky was born in Moscow in 1949. At the Moscow Conservatory, Polyansky distinguished himself as a student in both the choral and orchestral conducting programs, where his teachers included Boris Kulikov and Odisei Dimtriadi. Although Polyansky did have a fleeting engagement conducting the Moscow Operetta Theater while still a student, it was not until his introduction to conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky (at a postgraduate conducting course) that the full form of his musical ethos would take shape.
In 1977, he assisted Rozhdestvensky (having become his mentor) at the Bolshoi Theater in a production of Shostakovich's Katerina Ismailova. The production was a success, and Polyansky was immediately re-engaged as a permanent opera conductor there, a post which would prove to be the springboard for his career. During the next decade, his guest appearances became more frequent and included the Helsinki Symphony Orchestra in Finland, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan, and numerous other orchestras scattered across Germany, Holland, Iceland, and Turkey.
Polyansky's commitment to the music of Rachmaninov is extensive. In addition to serving as the President of the Rachmaninov Music Society, Polyansky has also recorded his complete choral and orchestral works. Devoted to his homeland and heritage, Polyansky has invested a considerable amount of time and energy into the recording and performing of works by neglected Russian composers, including Alfred Schnittke, Sergei Taneyev and Nikolai Miaskovsky. Polyansky has also helped to unearth a large number of works by Alexander Grechaninov and Dimitri Bortnyansky, saving them from almost certain oblivion.
Polyansky's career solidified once he was invited to succeed Rozhdestvensky at the Russian State Symphony Orchestra in 1992. Polyansky's strong initiative and choral background led to his creation of the Symphonic Capella choir as a subsidiary. His performances there have received consistent praise for their musical creativity, quality, and integrity. In 1993, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the Opera Nights Festival in Göteburg, Sweden after an acclaimed performance of Eugene Onegin. He has conducted performances for a number of recordings on the Chandos recording label.