Through his virtuosity, strength of personality and high intelligence, Yuri Bashmet has given the viola a new prominence in musical life. The pre-eminent viola player of the modern age, he has motivated the leading composers of our time to expand the repertoire with significant new music. He is Artistic Director of the December Evenings festival in Moscow, Principal Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of New Russia, and is the founder / director of Moscow Soloists. He also appears throughout the world in the dual role of conductor / soloist.
Born in 1953 in Rostov-on-Don in Russia, he spent his childhood in Lvov in Ukraine before studying at the Moscow Conservatoire with Vadim Borisovsky (of the Beethoven Quartet) and Feodor Druzhinin. His international career was launched in 1976 when he won the International Viola Competition in Munich. Since then he has appeared with all the world’s great orchestras, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston, Chicago and Montreal Symphony Orchestras, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra, which presented its own Yuri Bashmet Festival.
He has inspired many composers to write for him, and has enjoyed strong personal and professional relationships with Alfred Schnittke and Sofia Gubaidulina in particular.
Described by The Times as ‘without doubt, one of the world’s greatest living musicians’, Yuri Bashmet brings an enquiring and perceptive mind to life beyond classical music; he is an enthusiast for the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and has hosted his own political discussion show on Russian television. He plays a 1758 Testore viola (a similar model to the one Mozart played) which he bought in 1971.