Music Director and Chief Conductor of Moscow State Symphony Orchestra
As to Pavel Kogan’s biography as an artist, he was blessed with brilliant teachers all his life. Pavel Kogan was born in 1952. At the age of 12 he made his debut in a philharmonic concert as part of the family trio. He performed together with his father—one of the most outstanding violinist of the 20th century — Leonid Kogan, and mother, Elizaveta Gilels. And his uncle is world famous pianist Emil Gilels. The young graduate of a music school continued his education at the conservatoire majoring in two classes at the same time – as a violinist and symphony conductor. The young talent simply felt the inseparable connection between these musical arts. Fate had it that Kogan’s teacher in conducting class was Leo Ginzburg, one of the founding fathers of the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra.
In 1970, when Pavel Kogan was 18, his talent as a violinist received the highest grades at the Sibelius International Violin Competition. This success was followed by numerous concerts with the leading orchestras of Russia, Europe, Japan and the United States, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
The brilliant career of a violinist became an excellent basis for his work as a conductor. Like no other, he understood that the strings were the foundation of a symphony orchestra and the core of its sound.
Although Pavel Kogan first rose to the conductor’s stand when he was not yet 19, his debut as a symphony conductor took place in 1974 with the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Philharmonic Orchestra, a leading orchestra of the Russian Federation. In the years that followed, the conductor Pavel Kogan performed with the best orchestras of Europe, America and Japan. Among those, the Russian orchestras make up a so-called Hall of Fame of Russian culture – the USSR State Symphony Orchestra, the State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR Radio and Television, the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Bolshoi Theater Symphony Orchestra. The maestro became a welcome guest at symphony music festivals in Helsinki, Dubrovnik, Montreux, Prague and Villach.
In 1988 Pavel Kogan got an invitation from the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra. He became the Music Director and Chief Conductor of that orchestra. During the time he worked with the orchestra and performed all over the world, he was also giving concerts in his country as well: Moscow, Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, Kiev, the Baltic capital cities…
In May 1989 Pavel Kogan became the head of the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra. The fact that this was in his own country was very important to Kogan. He took over the orchestra, and the orchestra chose him in the unanimous choice.
Pavel Kogan’s ability to work hard, to achieve his goals, his talent as a musician and his perfect knowledge of the nature of string instruments allows him to constantly improve the creative and repertoire policy of the orchestra. A major step forward for MSSO was the decision to include works by Western classics in its programs, which, in Pavel Kogan’s opinion, foster discipline and determination in a creative team. A hallmark of Kogan’s orchestra, as MSSO is referred to all over the world, is its large-scale series, or cycles: all symphony works of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Schumann, Schubert, Bruckner, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Rakhmaninov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich; all Mahler symphonies and vocal cycles. For Pavel Kogan a pause in the acquisition of new repertoire is a big sin, while the acquisition itself is not only the accumulation of new material but also its creative interpretation and renewal of his own visions and renditions. In 1977 Pavel Kogan received the National Prize of the Russian Federation for the performance of the full cycle of all Gustav Mahler’s Symphonies and the Vocal Cycles. That same year he became a full member of the Russian Academy of Arts.
As a conductor, Pavel Kogan’s worked together with many soloists, among them are Yu. Bashmet, V. Tretyakov, Y. Shtarker, V. Repin, M. Vengerov and many other excellent musicians.
In 1998 Pavel Kogan became the Principal Guest Conductor of the Utah Symphony Orchestra in Salt Lake City. Now the chief conductor Pavel Kogan had been involved in extensive educational work. His orchestra is the leader in sales of subscriptions and tickets to concerts of the Moscow Philharmonic Society.