Life and career
Pletnev was born into a musical family in Arkhangelsk, then part of the Soviet Union; his father played and taught the bayan, and his mother the piano. He entered the Central School of Music at the age of 13 and, in 1974, entered the Moscow Conservatory, studying under Yakov Flier and Lev Vlassenko. At age 21, he won the Gold Medal at the VI International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1978, which earned him international recognition and drew great attention worldwide. The following year he made his debut in the United States. He also taught at the Moscow Conservatory.
In 1988, he was invited to perform at the superpower conference in Washington, D.C.. At this conference, he met and befriended Mikhail Gorbachev. Because of this friendship, he gained the support to found two years later the Russian National Orchestra in 1990, the first non-government-supported orchestra in Russia since 1917; Pletnev was its first principal conductor. He and the orchestra made their recording debut on Virgin Classics, releasing Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony and Marche Slave in 1991. He stepped down as Principal Conductor in the late 1990s, but remained the orchestra's artistic director. Mikhail Pletnev has been named first guest conductor of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, Switzerland from 2008 to 2010.
Pletnev has made a number of recordings with Deutsche Grammophon. His recordings are mostly of Russian works, though in 2007 he recorded the complete Beethoven symphonies. The first works he recorded were for orchestra, including Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty, his "Pathétique" Symphony and Manfred Symphony, and Rachmaninoff's Second and Third Symphonies. His piano repertoire is extensive and includes The Seasons, many Scarlatti sonatas, Pictures at an Exhibition as well as his own transcriptions of suites from The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty. With Pentatone, Pletnev has also recorded Russian works, such as all of Tchaikovsky's symphonies, Shostakovitch's symphonies no. 15 and 11, and Sergei Taneyev's At the Reading of a Psalm.
On 6 July 2010 Pletnev, who lives in Thailand, was questioned by Thai authorities in connection with allegations of procuring under-age boys for sexual purposes and alleged statutory rape of a 14-year-old boy. Pletnev, who was released on bail, denied the charges. The pianist cancelled appearances at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival in order to prepare his defence, but the charges were dropped on 28 September, and he resumed his career two months later.
Awards and recognitions
- 1978: Gold Medal and First Prize Tchaikovsky Competition Moscow
- 1995: State Prize First Class of the Russian Federation by President Boris Yeltsin
- 1999: Echo Klassik (Skrjabin)
- 2001: Echo Klassik (Live at Carnegie Hall)
- 2002: State Prize First Class of the Russian Federation by President Vladimir Putin
- 2005: Grammy Awards of 2005 Best Chamber Music Performance with Martha Argerich
- 2005: European Conductor's Prize
- 2005: Triumph, Prize by the independent Russian foundation Triumph-Nowy-Wek
- 2006: State Prize First Class of the Russian Federation for the year 2005 by President Vladimir Putin
- 1978: Quintet for Piano, Flute, Violin, Viola and cello
- 1979: "Triptych" for Symphony Orchestra
- 1988: Classical Symphony
- 1997: Viola Concerto
- 2000: Variations on a theme by Rachmaninov
- 2000: Adagio for five Double basses
- 2006: Cello sonata
- 2006: Fantasia Elvetica (First performance: December 09 2006 Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur Switzerland; Mikhail Pletnev, Conductor; Sascha und Mischa Manz)
- 2009: Jazz suite
- 1976: Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin: 2 Concert Pieces from „Anna Karenina“ (Transcription for piano)
- 1978 (?): Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty (Transcriptions for piano)
- 2003: Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev: Suite from Cinderella op. 87 (Transcription for two pianos)
Honours and awards
- Grand Prix at the International Youth Piano Competition in Paris (1973)
- First prize at the All-Union Piano Competition in Leningrad (1977)
- First Prize and Gold Medal of the VI International Competition Tchaikovsky (1978)
- Lenin Komsomol Prize (1978) – for high performance skills
- Glinka State Prize of the RSFSR (1982) – for concert programs (1978–1981)
- Honoured Artist of the Udmurt ASSR (1979)
- People's Artist of the RSFSR (1989)
- Russian Federation State Prize in Literature and Art:
- 7 December 1993 – for concert programs of the Russian National Symphony Orchestra in recent years
- 27 May 1996 – for the creation and execution of the Jubilee Music Festival "Alfred Schnittke Festival" (1994, Moscow), Third and Fourth Symphonies, the Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, Concert number 2 for Cello and Orchestra, Concerto Grosso № 5, three spiritual choruses ("Hail Mary Hail," "Jesus Christ" "Our Father"), the cantata "The History of Dr. Johann Faust,"
- 9 June 2006 – for outstanding technical skill and innovation in the field of musical art, which opened a new chapter in national and world culture
- Order of Merit for the Fatherland;
- 4th class (30 May 1997) – for services to the state, a great contribution to strengthening friendship and cooperation between peoples, many years of fruitful work in the arts and culture
- 3rd class (13 April 2007) – for his great contribution to the development of national musical culture, and many years of creative activity
- Prize of the President of the Russian Federation in the field of art and literature in 2001 (30 January 2002)
- 47th Grammy Awards (2005) – best chamber music performance
- Triumph award
- European Cultural Award
- Ludmila Kokoreva: Michail Pletnyov. Moskau 2003, ISBN 5-85285-748-3 (Russian)
- Lora Tokareva: Muzykal'nye Otkrytiya Mikhaila Pletneva. Etudy Nabroski Interview, Moskau 2009, ISBN 978-5-206-00747-3 (Russian)
- Fanning, David. "Pletnev, Mikhail." Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2001.
- Michael White (2003-03-16). "It's All a Game, and Only He Knows the Rules". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-22.
- "Mikhail Pletnev." Russian National Orchestra Official Website. http://www.russianarts.org/rno/pletnev.cfm
- Geoffrey Norris, "Maestro miseryguts". Telegraph, 22 March 2004.
- Greene, Lynnda. "Beyond Borders" in International Piano Magazine November / December 2003 
- Higgins, Charlotte (3 December 2010). "Child molestation investigation against Russian classical musician dropped". The Guardian (London).
- Requiem for Dresden in: Program 2011 Staatskapelle Dresden
- Sikorski Music Publishers.
- Mikhail Pletnev interview by Bruce Duffie