"Lilya is a flawless pianist with a completely natural way of playing, simply world class! Luckily she wasn’t competing with me in the 1957 Busoni Competition – that would have been really hard for me.”
Martha Argerich - interview in “La Repubblica”, 26 August 2011
Lilya Zilberstein got her first taste of international success in 1987 when she won the Busoni Competition in Bolzano. Her victory was a sensation – it took five years before the first prize was even awarded again. By 1988, the Moscow-born pianist was able to perform at big tours abroad in the West. Travelling for her concerts took her to almost all of the European countries, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Canada and Brazil.
Lilya Zilberstein started playing the piano at five years old. After twelve years of lessons with Ada Traub at the Gnessin School of Music in Moscow, she continued studying at the Gnessin Institute under Alexander Satz until she graduated in 1988. In 1985, she won first prize in the Competition of the Russian Federation, and was also one of the prize-winners at the All Union’s Competition in Riga. Lilya Zilberstein has been living in Germany since 1990. In 1991, Lilya Zilberstein debuted with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Claudio Abbado, which formed the basis of a long-term cooperation. She performed concerts with many famous international orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra in Moscow, the London Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra della Scala in Milan, the Staatskapelle Dresden, and many others. Alongside Claudio Abbado, she has worked with conductors such as John Axelrod, Paavo Berglund, Semyon Bychkov, Gustavo Dudamel, Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Alun Francis, Leopold Hager, Dmitrij Kitajenko, James Levine, Wassili Sinajski, Michael Tilson Thomas, Jean-Pascale Tortellier, Marcello Viotti and Antoni Witt. In August 1998, she was awarded the ”Accademia Musicale Chigiana” prize in Siena, an accolade awarded to, amongst others, Gidon Kremer, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Krystian Zimerman.
Lilya Zilberstein has recorded eight CDs for Deutsche Grammophon, including recital programmes, the Grieg Piano Concerto (Järvi, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra) and the Second and Third Piano Concertos by Rachmaninoff (Abbado, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra). She also contributed to the first complete CD recording of the Frédéric Chopin oeuvre, which was released by Deutsche Grammophon in 1999. Recently, several more CDs have been released, including a recording of the Brahms sonata for two pianos with Martha Argerich released by EMI and Clementi, Mussorgsky and Rachmaninoff released by Hänssler Classic.
In the past few years, the pianist has given guest performances in the USA, Asia, South America, Italy, the UK, France, Sweden, Spain, Poland and Iceland, and has played extended world tours as the chamber music partner of Maxim Vengerov. She returned to her home city of Moscow for the first time in 16 years and played an acclaimed concert. She is a regular guest at large international music festivals. In 2009, she celebrated her tenth anniversary on the stage with her long-term duet partner Martha Argerich with concerts in a number of European cities. The prominent duo can also be heard in Germany once again in 2012, at the Ruhr Piano Festival and other locations.
The highlights of the coming 2012/2013 season are a stint at the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra with three concerts, a chamber music evening, a guest performance at the Salzburg Festival in April 2013, three concerts with the Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra, where Tschaikovsky’s Third Piano Concerto will be played, and a performance with the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra under Andrey Boreyko, where Johannes Brahms’ First Piano Concerto will be played. Guest appearances with the Orchestre de Pays de Loire conducted by John Axelrod are also planned, as are master classes and concerts in Italy, Ireland, Spain, Poland, Turkey, the USA, Japan and Taiwan.
Lilya Zilberstein is professor at the University of Music and Theatre in Hamburg since autumn 2009.