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Alexander (Lexo) Toradze (Georgian: ალექსანდრე თორაძე; born May 30, 1952) is a classical concert pianist, best known for his classical Russian repertoire, with a career spanning over three decades. He is a professor of piano at Indiana University South Bend.
Born in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, to parents David, a famous Georgian composer, and Liana, a movie actress and ophthalmologist, Alexander Toradze entered Tbilisi’s central music school at six and first played with orchestra at nine. He continued his studies at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow at nineteen under Yakov Zak, Boris Zemliansky, and Lev Naumov. In 1977, he finished second in the Fifth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. Toradze graduated from the Moscow conservatory in 1978. In 1983, while on tour with the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra of Moscow, he requested asylum at the American Embassy in Madrid and has since made his home in the United States.
In 1991, Toradze became the Martin endowed professor of piano at Indiana University South Bend. The members of the multi-national Toradze Piano Studio at IUSB have been active participants in summer festivals including Salzburg, White Nights Festival, London Proms, Edinburgh, Ravinia, Ruhr, Rotterdam, Mikkeli, Finland, Hollywood Bowl, Saratoga among others. In the recent[chronology citation needed] season the Studio appeared in Salzburg, New York, Rome, Florence, Venice, Ravenna, Lisbon, Ruhr Festival, among others.
Toradze appears with world's leading orchestras such as Berlin Philharmonic, Kirov Orchestra, La Scala Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, City of Birmingham Symphony, London's Symphony, Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras, NHK in Japan, Czech, Hungarian, Israeli, Rotterdam, Warsaw Philharmonics, the radio orchestras in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Italy.
He has performed with virtually every major orchestra in the United States, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minnesota, Houston, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Seattle and Washington D. C. He has also appeared with the symphonies of Montreal and Toronto.
Toradze is also famous for his praying before he performs. When asked in a radio interview with renowned classical radio host, Bruce Duffie, about what advice he could give to aspiring concert pianists, Toradze replied, "…Don't forget to pray to God before each performance and don't forget to give your soul enough air. Believe in the right purpose of art and believe in being human".
Toradze, who specializes in Russian composers such as Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky has recorded for the Philips and Angel/EMI record labels. Amongst his most notable recordings is his 1998 Prokofiev's five piano concertos with Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra for the Philips record label. From this set, Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 was named by International Piano Quarterly as "historically the best on record" from among over seventy recordings. Other recordings, for Angel/EMI, include Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Prokofiev's Seventh Piano Sonata, Stravinsky's Three Scenes from Petrushka, Ravel's Miroirs and Gaspard de la nuit.
- Horowitz, Joseph (2008). "Vodka In South Bend - The life and music of a Soviet defector". Humanities. NEH. 29 (5). Retrieved December 16, 2010.
- Fifth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition September 11-25, 1977 Results The Van Cliburn Foundation. Retrieved December 17, 2010.
- Ryan, Michael (1988-07-04). "Five Years Later, Soviet Defector Lexo Toradze Greets His Mother with a Hug and a Concerto". People. Time Inc. 30 (1). Retrieved December 17, 2010.
- Duffie, Bruce: "Alexander Toradze interview Retrieved December 17, 2010.