The career of Armenian-born American pianist Sergei Babayan flowered after he moved to the U.S. in 1989.
Since then, he has been a major presence on the American concert and educational scenes without neglecting his roots in Europe and the former Soviet Union. Babayan was born in Gyumri, in Soviet-controlled Armenia, on January 1, 1961. His family was musical, and he began his studies at age six in Armenia, taking lessons there with Georgi Semerdjiev. At the Moscow Conservatory his teachers were Mikhail Pletnev
, Vera Gornostayeva, and Lev Naumov. Babayan took his first trip outside the Soviet Union in 1989, and shortly afterward won the major Robert Casadesus International Piano Competition, Cleveland International Piano Competition, Hamamatsu Piano Competition, and Scottish International Piano Competition. These prizes brought him engagements in the West with the Cleveland Orchestra
and the National Orchestra of Belgium. In 1996 he founded the Sergey Babayan International Piano Academy at the Cleveland Institute of Music and has served as artist-in-residence there. Among his students have been American pianist Grace Fong, herself an important instructor; Tchaikovsky Competition and Arthur Rubinstein International Competition First Prize winner Daniil Trifonov
; and Rubinstein Competition winner Ching-Yun Hu. Babayan has since taken American citizenship and settled in New York. His 2017-2018 season included appearances with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
, the Cameristi del Teatro alla Scala, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
, the Mariinsky Orchestra
, and the Szczecin and Belgrade Philharmonics. Babayan has recorded for the Connoisseur Society
, Pro Piano
, and Mariinsky
labels, and in 2018 he released the album Prokofiev for Two on Deutsche Grammophon
with his frequent duo piano partner Martha Argerich
. Generally specializing in Romantic repertory, he reaches back to Bach
and forward to 20th century works by Lutoslawski
, and Pärt
in his programming.