Russian-born pianist Igor Levit, 30, receives Gilmore prize in novel undeclared competition
This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization and submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.
NEW YORK — Pianist Igor Levit has been named the recipient of the 2018 Gilmore Artist Award. The Award was announced by Daniel R. Gustin, Director of the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.
One of the most prestigious honors in music, the Gilmore Artist Award is presented every four years on a non-competitive basis to an exceptional pianist who, regardless of age or nationality, is a superb performing artist and a profound musician with both charisma and breadth of musicianship; who desires and can sustain a performing career as a major international concert artist and can make a real impact on music; and whose developing career can benefit from the enhancement the Award’s money and prestige provide.
Levit will receive $300,000 in support of his musical and career goals over the next four years. Previous recipients of the Gilmore Artist Award are Rafał Blechacz (2014), Kirill Gerstein (2010), Ingrid Fliter (2006), Piotr Anderszewski (2002), Leif Ove Andsnes (1998), Ralf Gothóni (1994), and David Owen Norris (1991).
“Igor Levit is not only a superb pianist but also a deeply thoughtful and insightful artist, and he made a deep impression on all of us who followed his performances over the last three years,” Gustin said. “He exemplifies the pianist that The Gilmore was formed to support. Igor will be the final Gilmore Artist chosen during my tenure as Director, and I am honored to have led an organization that has made a significant impact on so many great pianists’ lives.”
Levit, 30, was born in Russia and relocated at a young age to Germany, where he still resides today. Recognized as an artist to watch as early as 2005, when he won several prizes as the youngest participant of that year’s Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv, Levit went on to gain wide acclaim for his 2013 Sony Classical recording of Beethoven’s late sonatas, praised by Alex Ross of The New Yorker for its “technical brilliance, tonal allure,” and “intellectual drive.”
Since his North American debut in 2014, he has also dazzled audiences and critics in concert halls around the nation, with Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times declaring: “He is the future.” He has appeared with orchestras and in recital around the world, collaborated with such leading artists as Marina Abramović, and made additional, well-received recordings for Sony Classical, featuring works by composers from Bach to Rzewski.
Levit said, “It is a great honor to receive the Gilmore Award, and I am deeply grateful. The news almost leaves me speechless, but I feel privileged, blessed, and excited. For me, the purpose of music making and being an artist is to share – to share the past, present, and future of music with my audience as best I can. This award will help me to continue on this path and broaden the possibilities of that sharing.”
An exclusive recording artist for Sony Classical, Levit’s debut disc of Beethoven’s last five piano sonatas won the BBC Music Magazine Newcomer of the Year 2014 Award, the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist Award 2014, and the ECHO Klassik 2014 Award for Solo Recording of the Year (19th-Century Music/Piano). In October 2015, Sony Classical released his third solo album in cooperation with the Festival Heidelberger Frühling featuring Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, and Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated!, which was awarded the Recording of the Year and Instrumental Award at the 2016 Gramophone Classical Music Awards.
Born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1987, Levit moved with his family to Germany at age eight. He completed his piano studies at Hanover Academy of Music, Theatre and Media in 2009 with the highest academic and performance scores in the history of the institute. He has studied under the tutelage of Bernd Goetze, Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Hans Leygraf, Matti Raekallio, and Lajos Rovatkay.
As the youngest participant in the 2005 Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv, he won the Silver Prize, as well as the Prize for Best Performer of Chamber Music, the Audience Favorite Prize, and the Prize for Best Performer of Contemporary Music. In Berlin, where Levit makes his home, he plays on a Steinway D Grand Piano provided to him by the Trustees of Independent Opera at Sadler’s Wells.
The Gilmore Artist Award is given by the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, established in 1989. Candidates for the Gilmore Artist Award are nominated confidentially by a large and diverse international assemblage of music professionals. The finalists among the candidates are then each evaluated for their career potential and musicianship in many live concert performances over a two- to three-year period by the Gilmore Director and an anonymous committee representing a variety of professions and viewpoints in the classical music world.
The committee travels all over the world assessing the candidates’ concert performances over a sustained period of time, rather than judging their achievements during a concentrated period under tightly controlled conditions, as in a public competition. The Gilmore Artist receives a $50,000 cash grant to be used at the artist’s discretion and $250,000 that is typically disbursed over a four-year period for projects and activities that will enhance the artist’s musicianship and career.
The Gilmore also gives Young Artist Awards, each worth $25,000, every two years to the most promising of the new generation of American pianists age 22 and younger. Between 1990 and 2018, 34 young pianists have received a Gilmore Young Artist Award, including most recently Wei Luo and Elliot Wuu.