With more than 95 million YouTube views and some 195,000 subscribers to her channel, Valentina Lisitsa is one of the most watched classical musicians on the internet, using digital innovation to champion classical music and performance. Impressed by her YouTube success, the Royal Albert Hall, in an unprecedented step, opened its doors for Valentina’s London debut on 19 June 2012. That concert, recorded and filmed by Decca Classics, became her first release on the label; it was also Google’s first-ever live HD stream.
With her multi-faceted playing described as “dazzling”, Lisitsa is at ease in a vast repertoire ranging from Bach and Mozart to Shostakovich and Bernstein; her orchestral repertoire alone includes more than 40 concertos. She has a special affinity for the music of Rachmaninov and Beethoven and continues to add to her vast repertoire each season.
Born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1973, Lisitsa began playing the piano at the age of three, giving her first solo recital a year later. She gained a place at the Lysenko Music School for Gifted Children and later studied under Ludmilla Tsvierko at the Kiev Conservatory. In 1991 she won the Murray Dranoff Two Piano Competition together with Alexei Kuznetsoff. The couple married the following year and took the huge gamble of moving to the USA. In 1995 Lisitsa made her New York debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. Since then, she has performed extensively around the world and appeared in such venues as London’s Wigmore Hall and Vienna’s Musikverein. When her career seemed to be flagging, it was spectacularly reignited by a home-made DVD, shot by her husband in 2006, of Valentina playing the 24 Chopin Études. Offered on Amazon, sales of the unedited recording skyrocketed after the couple posted it on YouTube. Valentina Lisitsa had found international fame online. Subsequent YouTube videos expanded her following, culminating in the 2012 Albert Hall recital.
A pianist of dazzling musicality and unafraid to take risks, Lisitsa swiftly turned her internet success into a hugely successful concert career, making her debut in the main auditorium of the Berlin Philharmonie in February 2013, opening the 92nd St. Y series with a programme chosen by the public, and playing throughout Europe, the USA and Japan, in Brisbane, Seoul, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and at the BBC Proms. Her current diary takes her on further tours of the USA and Europe and to Canada, playing recitals, Rachmaninov, Beethoven and Mozart piano concertos, and chamber music, with an emphasis on Brahms.
In 2012 Valentina Lisitsa signed an exclusive agreement with Decca Classics. Her Albert Hall recital that year, immediately available as both CD and DVD for pre-order on the night of the concert, was followed by a 2-CD release of the complete concertos of Rachmaninov and Paganini Rhapsody with the London Symphony Orchestra under Michael Francis and the release of an exciting all-Liszt recital on both CD and LP. In 2014, Decca issued Chasing Pianos, Valentina’s recording of the piano music of Michael Nyman, in celebration of the composer’s 70th birthday. Featuring music from Nyman’s soundtracks to well-loved films such as The Piano and Wonderland, the companion digital release represents the complete published Nyman oeuvre for piano, running to over 110 minutes. Also in 2014 came Études, an album comprising Schumann’s Symphonic Études as well as all of Chopin’s contributions to the genre. The piano music of Philip Glass was released in March 2015 (“Glass has rarely been played with as much care shown to the subtle nuances of his minimalist style and aesthetic” – Gramophone), and in October she turns to Scriabin for Nuance, a collection of lesser-known works for solo piano and including what is thought to be the first recording of the Duett in D minor for two sopranos and piano.