Valery Kuleshov – Russia
1993 Cliburn Silver Medalist
Valery Kuleshov was born in 1962 in Chelyabinsk, Russia. At the age of 7, he entered the Central Musical School of the Moscow Conservatory. At the age of 9, he made his concert debut with a symphony orchestra in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. He earned his master’s degree at Gnessin Academy of Music and his doctoral degree from the State Jewish Academy, both in Moscow. He studied with some of the best Russian pianists, including Dmitry Bashkirov, Nikolai Petrov, and Vladimir Tropp. In addition, Mr. Kuleshov studied at the International Piano Foundation in Italy with the world’s most acclaimed piano teachers, including Karl Ulrich Schnabel and Leon Fleischer.
Mr. Kuleshov’s first major international success was at the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition in Italy in 1987, where he was awarded second place. He also received the gold medal along with the first place winner. That year, he began intensive concert activity in Russia and abroad.
In his North American debut at the Ninth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1993, he was awarded the silver medal as well as the Prize for Best Performance of the Commissioned Work, Ghost Waltzes, by American composer, Morton Gould. His performance in the Final Round prompted the Le Monde reviewer to exclaim, “What sound! What allure! What a musician!”
Mr. Kuleshov has accomplished the unique and incredibly difficult work of writing out, from listening only to the LP recordings, Vladimir Horowitz’s unpublished piano transcriptions. After listening to the recordings of his transcriptions played by Mr. Kuleshov, Vladimir Horowitz wrote to the young musician: “I was not only delighted by your fantastic performances, but I congratulate you on your keen ear and great patience that were required to write out, note by note, the scores of these unpublished transcriptions, by listening to my recordings.” (Oct. 1987).
Mr. Kuleshov’s performing art is based on the best Russian piano traditions. One can find in his playing emotional sincerity, rich colors, brilliant virtuosity, profound understanding of composers’ styles, and freshness of interpretation. His playing has been compared to the style of Vladimir Horowitz with vast dynamic contrasts, consisting of tremendous double-fortissimos followed by sudden delicate pianissimos. Mostly he is attracted to the Romantic music by Schumann, Liszt, Chopin, Brahms, and Rachmaninov. The greatest place in his concert programs belongs to Scriabin’s works, as well as classical and contemporary music.
In 1997, by decree of the President of Russia Boris Yeltsin, Valery Kuleshov was awarded the rare distinction “Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation.”
In addition to maintaining an international performing schedule, Valery Kuleshov serves as artist-in-residence at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma. He also performs duo piano repertoire with his talented daughter, Tatiana Kuleshova.