The Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg has combined training in the core Russian and Western repertory with fresh efforts to expose this repertory to audiences outside the usual classical spheres.
Giltburg was born in Moscow in 1984, and his family joined the exodus of Russian Jews to Israel soon after. His first piano teacher, beginning at age five, was his mother. In Israel he studied with the veteran Tel Aviv pianist and teacher Arie Vardi. That pedagogue was a fixture of international prize juries, and Giltburg was schooled in clean reading that appealed to those juries: he took second prize (and the audience prize) at the Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv in 2011 and won first prize two years later at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium, a major honor. Even prior to the former honor, Giltburg had made his debut at the BBC Proms, and these honors propelled him to concerto appearances with the likes of the Philharmonia Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony, Danish Radio Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and, in the U.S., the Nashville and Baltimore Symphonies. After a disc of Romantic piano sonatas for the Orchid label in 2015, he signed that year with the Naxos label and has recorded Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, and Schumann there, as well as an album of Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82; Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major, Op. 83; and Piano Sonata No. 8 in B flat major, Op. 84, innovatively cast as the "War Sonatas." Vardi's orientation toward a broader public -- he was well known for his television programs introducing classical repertory -- has been reflected in his student's approach: Giltburg maintains a blog devoted to nonspecialist listeners and uses his own photography in many of the graphics associated with his work.