Lev Nikolaevich Vlassenko
1928 - 1996
World-renowned international concert pianist and teacher, Lev Vlassenko, began his concert life early. Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1928, he attended the Special Music School for gifted children, studying under Professor Virsaladze. In 1948, he entered the Moscow State Conservatory and was a student of Professor Flier for eight years, including a period of postgraduate studies.
In 1956, he was awarded 1st Prize and Gold Medal at the Liszt International Piano Competition in Budapest, and in 1958 was second prize-winner in the first Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition. Emil Gilels stated, “One of the most thrilling moments of the competition was the Liszt b minor Sonata played by the Soviet pianist, Lev Vlassenko. In the interpretation of this monumental work, the pianist displayed a big romantic line, sincerity and deep penetration into the music.”
Vlassenko was on the staff of the Moscow Conservatory from 1957 and later became Professor and Chair of Piano. Many of his pupils have been prize-winners of international competitions and made outstanding international careers, such as Mikhail Pletnev who was his assistant at the Moscow Conservatory for many years.
Lev Vlassenko gave many concert tours throughout Europe, America and Japan, and was a jury member of many of the leading International Piano Competitions, including Leeds, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Lisbon, Montreal, Tokyo, Bolzano, Athens, Sydney, Maryland, Gina Bachauer, Zurich, Budapest and Madrid. In 1994 he was President of the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition.
Lev Vlassenko was the President of the International Association of Tchaikovsky Competition Stars and President of the Russian Branch of the European Piano Teachers’ Association. In 1991 he was given the honorary title, “People’s Artist of the USSR” – President Gorbachov’s last decree.
Later in his life, Lev lived in America. For two years, he was a Professor at Bloomington, Indiana University and at the New England School, Boston. He gave masterclasses at the Juilliard School, New York; Curtis Institute, Philadelphia; Michigan University and leading Conservatoriums in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Israel and Australia.
In addition to his activities as a concert pianist, professor and adjudicator, he was frequently in demand for radio and television talks on music and to produce recordings. In 2000 one of Moscow’s music schools was named after Lev Vlassenko.
During his final years, Vlassenko resided in Australia, teaching at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Griffith University in 1996 in recognition of his vast contribution to the development of the Conservatorium. He died on 24 August 1996 in Brisbane, Australia.