Gilels, Emil (Grigorievich)

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Gilels, Emil (Grigorievich)

Gilels, Emil (Grigorievich), eminent Russian pianist, brother of Elizabeta Gilels; b. Odessa, Oct. 19, 1916; d. Moscow, Oct. 14, 1985. He entered the Odessa Cons, at the age of 5 to study with Yakov Tkatch, making his first public appearance at 9, followed by his formal debut at 13; after further studies with Bertha Ringbald at the Cons., he went to Moscow for advanced studies with Heinrich Neuhaus (1935-38). He won 1st prize at the Moscow Competition in 1933; after taking 2nd prize at the Vienna Competition in 1936, he won 1st prize at the Brussels Competition in 1938; that same year, he became a prof, at the Moscow Cons. Following World War II, he embarked upon an esteemed international career. He was the first Soviet musician to appear in the U.S. during the Cold War era, making his debut in Tchaikovsky’s 1st Piano Concerto with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orch. (Oct. 3, 1955). He subsequently made 13 tours of the U.S., the last in 1983. A member of the Communist party from 1942, he received various honors from the Soviet government. Gilels was one of the foremost pianists of his time. He was especially renowned for his performances of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms.


V. Delson, E. G. (Moscow, 1959); S. Hentova, E. G. (Moscow, 1967).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire