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Yuri Bashmet

virtuoso viola player and conductor

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Yuri Bashmet is probably the top rated violist, the best known of famous viola players. He is famous for his technical abilities as well as for his expressive playing.

The first time I heard him perform was in Milan, when I was a student. He played Bartok viola concerto with La Scala orchestra and I was very impressed by the variety of sonorities he was able to create.

At that time a solo viola concert was a rarity indeed. After that time I heard him perform several times and I was always fascinated.

From the video below you can get an idea of his expressive playing.

On other pages on this website you can find more videos with Yuri Bashmet.

Tchaikovsky - Andante Cantabile for Viola and Strings - Yuri Bashmet

Anyway, I always prefer a live performance, you can really hear a feel all the nuances. So if you have the opportunity, go and listen to him in a concert.

Yuri Bashmet was born on 24th January in Ukraine, in the former Soviet Union. He started to study piano and violin and switched to the viola at 14. In his teenage years played also in a rock band. He entered Moscow's Conservatoire where he studied with Vadim Borissowsky and Fedor Drushinin (the violist dedicatee of Shostakovich viola sonata).

He 1976 he won First Prize at the International Viola Competition in Munich and started his career, although initially limited by the soviet authority.

In 1986 he founded the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra and started touring internationally more.

During his long and intense career he performed with the most famous musicians the like of Mstislav Rostropovich, Gidon Kremer, Sviatoslav Richter, Isaac Stern, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Martha Argerich, Evgeny Kissin, Mischa Maisky, Shlomo Mintz, Oleg Kagan, Maxim Vengerov, Maria João Pires and conductors such as Rafael Kubelík, Seiji Ozawa, Valery Gergiev, Colin Davis, John Eliot Gardiner, Yehudi Menuhin, Charles Dutoit, Neville Marriner, Kurt Masur, Bernard Haitink, Kent Nagano, Simon Rattle, Yuri Temirkanov, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt to name a few.

He played with the most important 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.

Yuri Bashmet conductor

Since founding his own orchestra, Bashmet has been conducting it himself, performing works by contemporary composers and his own arrangements, and also conducting the leading orchestras of the world.

Bashmet has worked a lot to enrich the viola repertoire with many compositions dedicated to him (over 50 viola concertos!), including two viola concertos by Schnittke, works by Edison Denisov and Allan Pettersson, Giya Kancheli.

Yuri Bashmet teacher

Bashmet is very active also as a teacher. He started teaching at Moscow Conservatoire in 1978, has taught for many years at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, he is president of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition on the Isle of Man and is Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, London.


Yuri Bashmet has recorded many CDs of viola works including piano sonatas, symphonic and chamber music works. His recordings were mad with the Russian Melodija, RCA, Sony and Deutsche Grammophon.

Buy Bashmet recordings and sheet music

More Bashmet's recordings


Bashmet has received a long a list of awards from many countries, besides his own from France, Denmark, Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Belarus, including a Grammy Award (USA) – with the orchestra "Soloists of Moscow" – in the category "Best performance by small ensembles".

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Buy Viola in Music's Collection of 13 famous tunes (19 pages)
£7.99 and download them instantly
They are in their original keys, so you can play them in sessions with other instruments

Jesu, joy of man's desiring
Michael Turner’s waltz (2 versions)
The greenwood tree
The south wind
Fanny Power
Ye banks and braes
Skye boat song
My Bonnie
My love is like a red, red rose
Sportsman’s hornpipe
The road to Lisdoonvarna
Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)
Iron legs

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