January 01, 2003

Violist Extraordinaire

On January 24, Russian viola player Yuri Bashmet turns 50. Born in Rostov-on-Don in 1953, Bashmet spent his childhood in Lvov, Ukraine, where he began studying music. He originally took up the violin, but then gave it up for the viola.

Bashmet entered the Moscow Conservatory at the age of eighteen, graduating in 1976. In the same year, he won first prize at the International Viola Competition in Munich, which launched his international career.

Yuri Bashmet inspired many composers, including Alfred Schnitke, to write for him. Bashmet has performed with Sviatoslav Richter and many other leading artists, including Natalia Gutman, the Borodin Quartet, Gidon Kremer, Viktoria Mullova, Mstislav Rostropovich and Maxim Vengerov. He has played in all the world’s musical capitals and has been showered with all imaginable prizes and distinctions.

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