Conductor/Viola

Yuri Bashmet


Principal Conductor, Novaya Rossiya State Symphony Orchestra

Artistic Director, Moscow Soloists

Artistic Director, December Nights Festival, Moscow


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.  In addition to concerto and conducting appearances throughout the world, chamber music collaborations include projects with artists including Anne Sophie Mutter, Lyn Harrell, Martha Argerich, Vadim Repin, Evgeny Kissin.  He is Principal Conductor of the Symphoy Orchestra of New Russia and founder/director of Moscow soloists.

Yuri Bashmet and Jing Zhao collaborate with Beijing Symphony Orchestra

13 Nov 2012

Yuri Bashmet will lead the Beijing Symphony Orchestra this coming weekend at the stunning Forbidden City Concert Hall, performing Shostakovich’ Festival Overture and Tchaikovsky Symphony No 5....

Yuri Bashmet and Leonard Elschenbroich return to Verbier Festival

27 Jul 2011

Long time protégé of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation, Leonard Elschenbroich rejoins Anne-Sophie Mutter on 27 July, performing Mendelssohn’s Octet in E flat major.  Elschenbroich looks...

Yuri Bashmet receives rave reviews

20 Apr 2011

Yuri Bashmet has received rave reviews for the first of three recitals with Evgeny Kissin in the US. In what was ‘one of the subtlest Chicago recitals in memory’, Bashmet’s performance of...

Yuri Bashmet in a touring all star trio

04 Nov 2010

In an all star trio with Anne Sophie Mutter and Lynn Harrell, Yuri Bashmet tours to San Francisco, New York, Costa Mesa in Orange County, Vancouver, and Morelia in Mexico, performing an all...

Daniel Hope and Yuri Bashmet join forces

02 Jul 2010

Daniel Hope and Yuri Bashmet join forces with Mischa Maisky, Christian Zacharias and Leigh Mesh in Schubert’s Quintet The Trout in a chamber concert with other international musicians. Both Daniel...

Yuri Bashmet and Kent Nagano join forces

02 Jun 2010

Yuri Bashmet and Kent Nagano join forces this month, performing Brahms’ (arr. Berio) Sonata for Viola and Orchestra with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in its home town. The two concerts also...

This month VWM has two projects on the road

14 Apr 2010

This month VWM has two projects on the road – Yuri Bashmet and his Symphony Orchestra of New Russia, and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Bashmet’s orchestra visits Paris, Cologne and...

Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists

20 Feb 2010

Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists, toured by VWM, perform in Berlin, Eindhoven, Cologne and Munich, where Yuri Bashmet is joined by Viviane Hagner for performances of Mozart’s Sinfonia...

Yuri Bashmet has been nominated in the ‘Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra)’

20 Dec 2009

Yuri Bashmet has been nominated in the ‘Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra)’ category for Deutsche Grammophon’s recording of Bartók’s 3 Concertos, (Pierre Boulez, conductor,...

Yuri Bashmet at the Flanders Festival

07 Sep 2009

Later this summer, Yuri is in Brussels to take part in the Flanders Festival on 8 September, performing Kancheli’s liturgy for viola and orchestra Mourned by the Wind with the Tallinn Philharmonic...

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“Here's a chance to savour two mainstays of the repertoire recorded live in Moscow by an orchestra that visits Britain too rarely, the Novaya Rossiya, directed by its chief conductor, the charismatic viola virtuoso Yuri Bashmet. Tchaikovsky's "Pathétique" is a powerfully emotional piece under any baton, but in this shattering interpretation Bashmet digs down to its darkest depths to reveal its true Slavic soul. And his young players, all graduates of the Moscow Conservatoire, bring a real freshness to Brahms's Symphony No 3, racing through the opening allegro and dancing through the third movement with sunny insouciance.”

The Guardian (ICA Classics Brahms/Tchaikovsky CD review) - May 2011

“Ozawa uses no less than Mstislav Rostropovich and Yuri Bashmet, whose performances inject some much needed grit into the proceedings, and one's principal pleasure is derived from the interplay between the two. Bashmet is spectacular when he is depicting the squire's logorrhoea, playing elsewhere with a lyrical warmth that suggests his affectionate dependence on his master.”

The Guardian (Strauss: Don Quixote)

“This is an audacious start for Yuri Bashmet's new association with DG. Not that he is any stranger to the music of Kancheli. His pungently authentic recording of Mourned by the Wind, an earlier Kancheli score, in which he is accompanied by the Georgian State Symphony Orchestra under Dzansug Kakhidze, is a bona fide classic. Styx, like Gubaidulina's new concerto, is, again, expressly designed for the technical and colouristic possibilities at his disposal. DG's stylish visuals and helpful notes complete a package shrewdly designed to reaffirm Bashmet's status as the most charismatic violist performing today.”

Gramophone Magazine (Gubaidulina: Viola Concerto/ Kancheli: Styx)

“ The evening's highlight was Schnittke's Viola Concerto, a subtle and lyrical masterpiece written for its peerless soloist, Yuri Bashmet. To hear a more authentic performance would be impossible, a finer one inconceivable.”

Evening Standard (BBC Proms)

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 Nights Festival, Moscow, Principal Conductor of the Novaya Rossiya State Symphony Orchestra, 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 Lviv 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 Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, 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.  Schnittke’s Viola Concerto, written for him, is now firmly established in the repertoire.  Other concertos composed for him include works by Poul Ruders, Alexander Tchaikovsky and Alexander Raskatov. He has also given the world premieres of Styx by Giya Kancheli, The Myrrh Bearer by John Tavener and On Opened Ground by Mark-Anthony Turnage – all of which were written for him.

In December 2002 Bashmet became Principal Conductor of the newly formed Symphony Orchestra of New Russia, with which he has embarked upon a series of concerts in Moscow, with touring plans in Russia, Italy, France and the UK.  Other orchestras with which he appears as conductor/soloist include the Dresdner Philharmoniker, Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Camerata Salzburg, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Brussels Philharmonic.  He is also founder of Moscow Soloists, an ensemble he has performed with and directed throughout the world since 1992.  This renowned chamber orchestra has been rapturously received in Moscow, Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo, New York and at the BBC Proms, London.

In chamber music his closest collaborators have included Sviatoslav Richter, Gidon Kremer, Mstislav Rostropovich, Maxim Vengerov, Natalia Gutman, Viktoria Mullova and the Borodin Quartet.  He formed a highly successful trio with mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, showcasing music of the past and present for this unusual and evocative combination.  Other recent chamber music projects include Beethoven trios with Anne Sophie Mutter and Lyn Harrell.  He is a frequent visitor to summer festivals such as Elbe, Verbier and Martha Argerich’s festival in Japan.  

Among his many CDs is a recording for Deutsche Grammophon of the Gubaidulina Concerto and Kancheli Styx, winner of a Diapason d’Or award and a Grammy nomination.  Other notable DG discs are Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with Anne-Sophie Mutter, Brahms’s Piano Quartet No 1 with Argerich, Kremer and Maisky, and the recently released Bartók Concerto with Berliner Philharmoniker and Boulez.  For Onyx he and Moscow Soloists have embarked on a critically-acclaimed series of recordings; chamber symphonies by Shostakovich, Sviridoc and Vainberg; music by Stravinsky and Prokofiev (which received a Grammy award); and a disc of music by composers from the Far East, plus a recital disc of Encores with pianist Mikhail Muntian.

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.

February 2014