Denis Matsuev

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Denis Matsuev
Denis Matsuev,.jpeg
Background information
Birth name Denis Leonidovich Matsuev
Born (1975-06-11) June 11, 1975 (age 39)
Origin Irkutsk, Soviet Union
Genres Classical music, jazz
Occupations Pianist
Instruments Piano
Labels RCA Red Seal Records

Denis Leonidovich Matsuev (Russian: Дени́с Леони́дович Мацу́ев, born June 11, 1975) is a Russian award-winning classical pianist. He appeared in hundreds of recitals in the most prestigious concert halls worldwide and collaborated with the world's best known symphony orchestras.



Denis Matsuev was born in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, Russian Federation, located on the Lake Baikal. He is the only child of two musicians: his mother is a piano teacher and his father is a pianist and composer.[1] When Denis was only 3 years old, he tried to reproduce on the piano a melody he heard on TV.[2] His parents recognized his sons' natural musical abilities and persisted in developing his interest in music, and Denis' father became his first piano teacher. Denis also loved to play hockey and soccer as a child and broke his arm twice.[3]

Until the age of 15, Matsuev studied music in Irkutsk. In 1990, he won a prize at the New Names Charitable Foundation competition in Irkutsk and received a stipend, $1,000 a month, from the foundation to study music in Moscow.[2] With other young gifted musicians from Russia discovered by the foundation, Matsuev went on tour in Europe and the U.S., playing at the Buckingham Palace, the Vatican, and the United Nations Headquarters, among others.[4]

Studies in Moscow[edit]

In 1991, Matsuev moved with his parents to Moscow to continue his musical education. He studied at the Central Musical School at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1994, he took part at his first international piano competition in Johannesburg, South Africa where he was awarded the Grand Prix. In the same year he entered the Moscow Conservatory as a student of Professor Nasedkin. After 1997, he studied under Professor Dorensky. In 1995, he became a soloist with the Moscow State Philharmonic.[5]

Into the world arena[edit]

Winning the quadrennial 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory of Music in 1998 at the age of 23 became a turning point in Denis Matsuev's career as a classical pianist. During the following decade he was given a number of recitals at the well-known concert halls throughout the world. Matsuev performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Conlon, London Symphony Orchestra with Valery Gergiev, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Antonio Pappano, Philharmonia of London with Leif Segerstam, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with Krzysztof Urbanski, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra with Paavo Jarvi, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with Yuri Temirkanov, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with Manfred Honeck, Oslo Philharmonic with Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Philadelphia Orchestra with Gianandrea Noseda, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra with James Gaffigan, as well as with Rotterdam Philharmonic, WDR Symphony, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Zurich Opera House Orchestra and NHK Symphony, among others.

The New York Times wrote that Matsuev created his own artistic identity as an athletically virtuosic pianist, "Built like a weightlifter, curly-haired and boyish, Mr. Matsuev exudes charisma. His piano sound has depth and body, even in soft passages".[6] In 2006, The Times of London called Matsuev a "Russian virtuoso"[7] and critics then wondered if he were a "new Horowitz".[2] The Washington Post in its turn described Matsuev as an "absolute powerhouse of a pianist, capable of vanquishing the most technically demanding music in the repertory".[8] Los Angeles Times called him a "virtuoso in the tradition of Gilels, Richter and Horowitz".[9]

Some critics, however, described Maytsuev's style as "pedal to the metal" and claimed that Matsuev in his recitals demonstrated "astonishing display of muscle and speed, seemingly for their own sake".[10] They humorously wrote that Matsuev exhibited a tendency "on pounding his instrument into submission", and that the "only pianists who could match him for animation are, well, animations: Tom the cat in The Cat Concerto and Bugs Bunny in "Rhapsody Rabbit".[11] Other concluded that Matsuev besides admirable technique displayed the ability to "put the depth and plushness of his sound to as good use in crystalline, intimate moments as in bravura ones".[12]

Denis Matsuev was a torchbearer for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and, performing with renowned opera soprano Anna Netrebko, he gave a rousing performance of the Olympic anthem in the opening ceremony. Matsuev performed also during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

A loyalist of President Vladimir Putin, he declared support for Russia's acctions in the Crimea and Ukraine.[13]

Collaborating with orchestras[edit]

Denis Matsuev performed on stage with the world's best known symphony orchestras, including Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, Russian Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, The New York Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Chicago Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony and Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, National Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, BBC Symphony, Philharmonia orchestra of London, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, the European Chamber Orchestra and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.

Apart from that, Denis Matsuev is connected by long-lasting close collaboration with the legendary Russian orchestras such as the Russian National Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic orchestra and the Mariinsky Orchestra.


Matsuev embarked on a concertizing career touring the main concert venues of the world,[14] and played together with the most prominent conductors such as Yevgeny Svetlanov, Vladimir Spivakov, Valery Gergiev, Claudio Abbado, Zubin Mehta, Mariss Jansons, Yuri Temirkanov, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel, Paavo Järvi, Leonard Slatkin, Myung-Whun Chung, Antonio Pappano, Semyon Bychkov, Iván Fischer, Adam Fisher, Gianandrea Noseda, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, James Conlon, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Tugan Sokhiev, Mikhail Pletnev.

Recitals and Festivals[edit]

Denis Matsuev has appeared in hundreds of recitals at prestigious concert halls throughout the world, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Salle Gaveau and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Mozarteum in Salzburg, Musikhalle in Hamburg, Musikverein in Vienna, Royal Festival Hall in London, Great Hall of the Conservatoire in Moscow, Great Hall of Philharmonie in St. Petersburg, La Scala in Milan, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Hercules Hall in Munich, Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, Finnish National Opera House, and the new Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall in St. Petersburg.[15]

He is a frequent performer at the international musical festivals, such as BBC Proms and Andrew Lloyd Webber Festival in London, Edinburgh International Festival, Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Schleswig-Holstein, Rheingau, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Klavier-Festival Ruhr in Germany, Chopin Festival in Poland, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Mito Festival in Italy, Les Choregies d’Orange, Auvers-Sur-Oise Festival, La Cote-St-Andre (Berlioz) Festival, and Festival de la Roque d’Antheron in France, Verbier, Montreux Festivals in Switzerland, Enescu Festival in Romania, Budapest Spring Festival in Hungary, Athens and Epidaurus Festival in Greece, Russian Winter Festival in Moscow and Stars of the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg in Russia, Shanghai International Arts Festival, and other festivals in Brazil, Spain, and Turkey.

A Concert Hall in Irkutsk named after Denis Matsuev. It serves as the headquarters of Stars on Baikal festival.

Matsuev is an artistic co-director of the international Annecy Classic Festival in France with Pascal Escande.[16] He is also the organizer and artistic director of two international festivals in Russia, Stars on Baikal in his native city of Irkutsk and an annual music festival Crescendo.[2][17] Both festivals are important artistic ventures since they present a new generation of gifted soloists from around the world a chance to perform with the best Russian symphony orchestras and conductors. In particular, the Crescendo festival has had great resonance in Russia and abroad.[18] Apart from that, Denis Matsuev is the organizer of a number of regional festivals that take place yearly in the Urals in the cities of Perm, Orenburg and Cheliabinsk.[19] He is also the current head of the New Names Charitable Foundation, which launched Matsuev's performing career and continues to support the musical education of gifted children in the Russian remote regions.

In October 2008, Alexander Borisovich Rachmaninoff, the grandson of the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, invited Denis Matsuev to become an artistic director of the Sergei Rachmaninoff Foundation, which obliged Matsuev to perform Sergei Rachmaninoff' compositions in a series of gala concerts throughout the world. Matsuev recorded some of Rachmaninoff's unknown musical works on composer's grand piano at Villa Senar on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland.[19] In 2013, in commemoration of the 140th Sergei Rachmaninoff anniversary, Denis Matsuev scheduled to perform a series of concerts in 15 Russian cities.[19]

Jazz pianist[edit]

Matsuev also plays jazz music. According to Matsuev, his jazz piano style is influenced by Oscar Peterson, whose virtuosity is considered among the greatest in the history of jazz. Matsuev was the first classical pianist to give a jazz concert at Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.

Life beyond music[edit]

The press wrote that 1.92 metres (6 feet 4 inches) tall Matsuev, nicknamed the "Siberian bear" with the "fastest paws in the Arctic and maybe anywhere else",[20] who still likes to play an occasional game of soccer, "exudes energy, enthusiasm and good humor,...enjoys a night out, and has the Slav love of word play – a favorite pastime is treating friends to jokes recorded on his cellphone".[2] His friends are quick to respond with jokes and pranks of their own. On Denis Matsuev's 30th birthday,

...his friends wanted to give him a party he would never forget. Instead of ordering cake and champagne, they arranged for him to be arrested. As part of a carefully planned practical joke, Matsuev was met at a Moscow railway station by real armed police, placed in their van and threatened with torture. "I was so scared I nearly passed out," he said. But instead of taking him to prison, the police delivered Matsuev to his friends, who had put a piano on the back of a lorry so that he could play while driving around the city under police escort.[21]

It is not known whether Matsuev liked the birthday gift but he is quoted for saying that "his parents and professors taught him to treat ups-and-downs in life by taking himself not too seriously".[22]


As a part of his collaboration with the Sergei Rachmaninoff Foundation, Denis Matsuev performed and recorded little known Rachmaninoff works on the composer's own, a Hamburg 'D' Steinway grand piano at the Rachmaninoff Villa Senar in Lucerne. In December 2007, RCA Red Seal released “Unknown Rachmaninoff” featuring Denis Matsuev. It has received positive feedback from critics and music lovers who praised Matsuev´s technical skills.

His recital at Carnegie Hall in November 2007 was released next year as an album entitled Denis Matsuev – Concert at Carnegie Hall. Matsuev won critical acclaim from The New York Times, which published the following, "His poetic instincts held fast in tender moments, with trills as thrillingly precise as one might ever hope to hear".[15]

In December 2009, the new Mariinsky Label released Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3,[23] which was performed by Denis Matsuev together with Valery Gergiev and Mariinsky Orchestra in the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia.


  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Haydn, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev. © & (P) 1997 New Names.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Haydn, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev. © & (P) Vivendi, 1999.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Beethoven, Tchaikowsky, Liszt, Prokofiev. Collection Etoiles. Enregistrement en public – Eglise Notre-Dame d'Auvers-sur-Oise, 27 May 2000.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Liszt: Mephisto Waltz S.514, Schumann: Symphonic Etudes op. 13, Schubert: Piano Sonata No.14 in a minor D.784. Sacrambow (Japan), © & (P) 2000 JAPAN ARTS.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Classic Masterpieces. Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor Rico Saccani. Tchaikovsky – Piano concertos Nos. 1 & 2. Soloist: Denis Matsouev. © & (P) 2003 Independent Music & Media Alliance LTD.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Tribute to Horowitz. Liszt, Bizet-Horowitz, Rossini-Ginzburg. (P) & © 2004 BMG Russia.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Stravinsky – Firebird Suite, Shchedrin – Piano Concerto No.5. Mariss JAansons – Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks – © 2005 Sony BMG Music Entertainment
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Stravinsky & Tchaikovsky. I. Stravinsky – Three Movements From Petrouchka; P.I.Tchaikovsky – The Seasons. RCA Red Seal. (P) & © 2005 Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No 1 & Shostakovich: Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings. St Petersburg PO/Temirkanov. RCA Red Seal (P) & © 2007 Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Unknown Rachmaninoff, 18 March 2008, RCA Red Seal.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – The Carnegie Hall Concert – Denis Matsuev (20 October 2009) RCA Red Seal.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Piano Concerto No. 3, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini – Denis Matsuev, Gergiev, and Mariinsky Orchestra (9 February 2010).
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Franz Liszt. Russian National Orchestra and Michail Pletnev. Sony Music Entertainment (Russia), 2011.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Franz Liszt – Piano concertos nos. 1 & 2 Totentanz; Orpheus ; Héroïde funèbre. [New York]: Sony, 2011.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Sjostakovitj, Dmitrij, Valerij Gerg'ev, and Rodion Stjedrin. Piano concertos nos. 1 & 2. State Academic Mariinsky Theatre, 2011.
  • Denis Matsuev, piano – Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2; Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue. Sony Bmg Music, 2013.


  1. ^ Prominent Russians: Denis Matsuev
  2. ^ a b c d e Smale, Alison (April 3, 2007). "Denis Matsuev: A Russian pianist's quest to make classical music relevant". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Pianist Denis Matsuev to play in Seattle". The Seattle Times. January 20, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2012. 
  4. ^ Elena Ragozhina (2011). "From new names to Crescendo: Denis Matsuev". New Style. 
  5. ^ Moscow Philharmonic – Matsuev Denis
  6. ^ Tomasini, Anthony (February 26, 2010). "Two Young Pianists, Forging Connections". The New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2010. 
  7. ^ Brown, Jeff. "Denis Matsuev". The Times. Retrieved April 21, 2006. 
  8. ^ Page, Tim (November 20, 2006). "Matsuev: Muscle and Mind". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 20, 2006. 
  9. ^ Schultz, Rick (January 2012). "Music review: Denis Matsuev in solo piano recital at Royce Hall". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  10. ^ Oestreich, James R (October 17, 2013). "Muscle and Speed Win a Crowd’s Adulation". The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  11. ^ Gantz, Jeffrey. "The National Philharmonic of Russia at Symphony Hall". The Portland Phoenix Online. Retrieved April 23, 2009. 
  12. ^ Nisbett, Susan Isaacs. "Denis Matsuev offers amazing solo recital at Hill Auditorium". The Ann Arbor News. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Dammann, Guy (September 26, 2010). "Matsuev/LSO/Gergiev". London: The Guardian. Retrieved June 26, 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Smith, Steve (November 19, 2007). "Matsuev: A Russian Pianist Finds a Place for Both a Hush and a Roar". The New York Times. 
  16. ^ Annecy Classic Festival: Denis Matsuev
  17. ^ Stars on Baikal
  18. ^ Levi, Jonathan (September 2, 2010). "Crescendo, in Double Time". The New York Times. Retrieved September 2, 2010. 
  19. ^ a b c Denis Matsuev: a tribute to Rachmaninoff.
  20. ^ Swed, Mark (September 5, 2012). "Music review: Young conductor impresses with L.A. Phil at Bowl". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 5, 2012. 
  21. ^ Mark Franchetti. "Hey, happy birthday Ivan, we're not going to shoot you!". The Sunday Times. Retrieved January 15, 2006. 
  22. ^ Don't take yourself too seriously – advice for celebrities. The Voice of Russia, 2 April 2010.
  23. ^ Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3

External links[edit]