Pianist Igor Levit emerged as a star in the 2010s after winning several major awards and honors, including designation as a BBC New Generation Artist. His rise has been due in part to bold programming in his concerts and on his recordings.
Levit was born March 10, 1987, in the Soviet Russian city of Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod, Russia). His mother was an opera rehearsal pianist. He took up the piano at age three, and a year later, he was already performing a Beethoven Ecossaise in public. At six, Levit performed a Handel keyboard concerto with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Nizhny Novgorod. His family moved to Hannover, Germany, in 1995, and in 1999, he enrolled in classes for a year at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and then moved to the Hochschule für Musik, Drama und Medien in Hannover. He remained a student there until 2010, studying with Bernd Goetzke, Karl-Heinz Kammerling, and Matti Raekallio. Even before his graduation, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung pronounced him one of the greatest pianists of the century. He won the Luitpold Prize for young artists at the Kissinger Sommer Festival in Bad Kissingen, Germany, and from 2011 to 2013, Levit was a BBC New Generation Artist. That led to concerto solo appearances with the likes of the Düsseldorf Symphony, the London Philharmonic, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Levit has given solo recitals across Europe, the U.S., and Israel, and he has played chamber music with cellist Mischa Maisky, violinist Sergei Krylov, and violist Kim Kashkashian, among others. Levit has been outspoken about anti-Semitism on social media, and he received a death threat as a result in 2019. That year, he was named to the faculty of his alma mater, the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover.
Levit has recorded exclusively for the Sony Classical label, making his debut in 2013 with an album of Beethoven's weighty three final piano sonatas. Since then, he has recorded music of Beethoven, Bach, and Frederic Rzewski. He has also issued thematic albums with philosophical themes, Life in 2018 and Encounter in 2020. ~ James Manheim