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Alexander Anissimov is currently Conductor Emeritus of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. In 2001 he received an Honorary Degree from University College, Dublin, for his services to music in Ireland. He is principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Belarus and of Opera Rostov-on-the-Don.
As a boy he attended the Glinka School in St Petersburg. This renowned school, founded by Peter the Great, has a long tradition particularly for choral work. Alexander studied piano and organ and having started as a boy, he sang for fifteen years. He entered St Petersburg Conservatory to study conducting with Elizaveta Kudravtseva and later moved on to Moscow Conservatory where he studied orchestral and opera conducting under Leo Ginzburg and Gennady Roshdestvensky. After graduation he worked for five years in the Maly Theatre of Opera and Ballet in St Petersburg, and during these years he began to build up his extensive repertoire. In 1978 he conducted the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time in the Mariinsky Theatre in a cycle of concerts for emerging young conductors, in which many great names in Russian musical history have given their début performances.
In 1980 he conducted a début performance of Don Giovanni in Minsk and immediately received an invitation to become principal conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre. While in Perm he conducted the first performance in the then Soviet Union of Prokofiev’s Fire Angel and Prokofiev’s opera War and Peace in the original version extending over two evenings. With an interval of five years when he went to Perm to be principal conductor of the Tchaikovsky Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Perm, he was principal conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre Minsk until 2002. After his work in Perm, the President of Russia presented him with title, Honoured Musician of Russia. Returning to Minsk in 1990 he conducted the Soviet Union première of Prokofiev’s Maddalena.
Alexander Anissimov has conducted a vast repertoire – orchestral repertoire, ballet and opera. His repertoire of Russian repertoire includes Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar, Mussorgsky’s Khovantchina, Borodin’s Prince Igor, Rimsky Korsakov’s The fiancée of the Tsar, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Queen of Spades and Iolanta, Prokofiev’s War and Peace and Shostakovitch’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and of course all the famous ballets of Tchaikovsky, Khatchaturian and Prokofiev. His repertoire in classic opera includes Bizet’s Carmen, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Zauberflöte and Marriage of Figaro, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Tosca and Turandot, Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Seviglia, Verdi’s Rigoletto, La Traviata, Aida, Don Carlos, Un Ballo in Maschera, Otello and Nabucco.
He toured extensively for many years as a guest conductor throughout the Soviet Union. He was a regular guest conductor in Moscow at the Bolshoi Theatre, in Leningrad at the Kirov Opera, and also in Novosibirsk, Kazan. He regularly visited many of the former republics of the Soviet Union including Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Azerbhaidjan and Moldavia. Since 1993 he has had a particularly close contact with the Kirov Opera particularly in the period since Valery Gergiev became principal conductor. At the Kirov he conducted all the principal works in the repertoire of opera and ballet, and a new production of Madame Butterfly, as well as concerts with the Symphony Orchestra of the Kirov Opera, including Rachmaninov’s Bells. In 1996 the Kirov invited him as a guest conductor for a tour in Seoul, Korea where he conducted Prince Igor. He was an assistant of Valery Gergiev in a production in San Francisco of Prokofiev’s War and Peace, and made his American début conducting the last performance of War and Peace in that season.
1993 was a year in which Alexander Anissimov travelled extensively and realised an extraordinary number of projects both at home and abroad. He made his début at Wexford Festival, Ireland, conducting Tchaikovsky’s Tcherevitchki, where he received immediate re-invitations to conduct Rubinstein’s Demon in 1994 and Fosca by Gomez in 1998. Demon was recorded live for NAXOS. He appeared in this year in Rome with the Orchestra Santa Cecilia, and was awarded the Leonard Bernstein baton for artistic achievement. He conducted Don Carlos at Genoa, commemorating 500 years since the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in Bilbao and Seville in Spain, working with Mstislav Rostropovich. In the Netherlands he made his début at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble. He conducted a recital at the Moscow Kremlin with Montserrat Caballé while his career continued to blossom with a début at La Fenice in Venice to conduct Boris Godunov, a début with Rotterdam Philharmonic and a début in Argentina at Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, where he also received immediate re-invitations to return for regular guest appearances.
In 1995 he began a period as principal guest conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, conducting many concerts throughout the season in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, and on regular national tours to other cities in Ireland. In this period he made recordings with the NSOI of all the symphonies of Rachmaninov including the choral symphony Bells and the symphonic poems for NAXOS. He made his début at Paris Bastille Opera, conducting Tchaikovsky’s Evgeniy Onegin, and the ballet Balanchine-Tchaikovsky, and toured in Spain as guest conductor of the Monte Carlo Symphony Orchestra with soloist Maxim Vengerov. In this period 1994-1998 he also made recordings for NAXOS with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra of nine symphonies of Glazunov, all the ballets including Raymonda and symphonic poems, in all eight CDs.
In 1996 Alexander conducted the Hong Kong Philharmonia at the Hong Kong International Festival at the invitation of Galina Gorchikova. He returned to San Francisco to conduct Prince Igor in San Francisco and later in the year at Marseilles. He made a début in Verdi’s Macbeth with Opera Ireland in Dublin, and with the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast, recording with Barry Douglas and conducting in the Ulster Hall with Philippe Cassard as soloist in Ravel’s piano concerto. In 1997 he conducted Rimsky Korsakov’s Tsar Saltan at the Teatro Communale in Florence, Glazunov’s Raymonda in the Opera Bastille and Evgeniy Onegin in Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona.
From September 1998 he began his period as principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. His concert programmes during these seasons have included works such as Orff’s Carmina Burana, Messiaen’s L’Ascension, Mahler’s 3rd Symphony, Berlioz’ Les Nuits d’Été, Scriabin’s Poème d’Extase, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and Bartok’s Miraculous Mandarin, Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn and strings and Walton’s Cello concerto. He opened his second season with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the RTE Philharmonic Choir and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. The season continued with a Wagner cycle with vocal extracts from Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Parsifal in five concerts in January and February 2000. A highlight of the season in Dublin was the performance of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle. At the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam he conducted the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland in their debut performance in this hall in a programme with Dvorak’s Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony. All his concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland throughout each season are broadcast live on Lyric FM, the Irish national classical radio station.
In 1998 Alexander Anissimov toured in the United States of America with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland in Chicago, Boston and Milwaukee. On his return he conducted Fosca at Wexford and Cavalliera Rusticana and I Pagliacci for Opera Ireland. He worked with the Leningrad Philharmonic in 1998, conducting Scriabin’s Poème d’Extase and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 1. In 1999 he conducted Shostakovitch’s 8th Symphony with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in England, Rigoletto in Mannheim and La Forza del Destino at Hamburg Opera. He conducted an outstanding Boris Godunov for Opera Ireland in the autumn season. In November 2000 Alexander Anissimov conducted the Irish première of Shostakovitch’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for Opera Ireland followed by the final concert of the millennium year in St Petersburg at the Sviridov Festival.
He has worked a great deal and with enormous pleasure with young musicians. He was founder of the orchestra in the Minsk Conservatory and conducted this orchestra for 15 years 1980-1995. He founded the National Youth Orchestra of Belarus in 2002, with whom he has worked for two seasons as conductor and musical director. He has also worked with the symphony orchestra of the Conservatoire de Paris, with whom he performed Shostakovitch’s 1st Symphony and Prokofiev’s symphonic suite, The Love for Three Oranges. He is a regular guest conductor with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland and with them he conducted Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in January 1999 and Mahler’s 2nd Symphony in August 1999 concluding this summer tour with a debut performance in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. The renowned English cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber, performed Elgar’s cello concerto in this programme. In August 2002 Alexander Anissimov conducted two complete Wagner Ring Cycles in concert performance with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland in association with Opera Ireland. The first cycle took place in University Concert Hall, Limerick on August 5th 6th 9th and 10th 2002 followed by a second cycle in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK on August 12th, 13th, 16th and 18th. This Ring Cycle was selected as the musical highlight of 2002 in the city of Birmingham by Birmingham Post and received a special award as the most outstanding arts event of 2002 from the Allianz Business2Arts Awards 2003 on 28th May 2003 presented at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, by Her Excellency Mary McAleese, President of Ireland. Der Nordbayerische Kurier wrote: “Alexander Anissimov is a discovery as a Wagner conductor. His sense of sound was something to be dreamed of, as he presented Wagner’s music confidently in the spirit of the late romantics: with the precision of Beethoven, with the emotional intensity of Strauss, with the sensuality of Rachmaninov, with the ecstasy of Scriabin and with the dynamic construction of sound of Mahler.”
In addition to his work in Ireland, Russian and Belarus, his busy freelance international career has taken him in the last two years across three continents. His work has included Houston Grand Opera USA with Prince Igor, Berlin Komische Oper with Boris Godunov and the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, for Evgeniy Onegin, as well as Verdi’s Requiem and Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in Dublin. He has made several appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra of Iceland in Reykjavik and with Holland Sinfonia in the Netherlands, and has worked with Oslo Opera for Prokofiev’s Cinderella, the State Opera of South Australia for Andrea Chénier, Teatro Liceo Barcelona for Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, in addition to work in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.