Valentina Lisitsa (Ukrainian: Валентина Лисиця, translit. Valentyna Lysytsya) is a Ukrainian-born and trainedclassical pianist who resides in North Carolina. Lisitsa is among the most frequently viewed pianists on YouTube and is often praised as a highly commendable pianist. Lisitsa followed a unique path to success, independently launching the beginnings of her career via social media, without initially signing to a tour promoteror record company.
Lisitsa was born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1973. She started playing the piano at the age of three, performing her first solo recital at the age of four.
Despite her early disposition to music, her dream at that point was to become a professional chess player.Lisitsa attended the Lysenko music school for Gifted Children and, later, Kiev Conservatory, where she and her future husband, Alexei Kuznetsoff, studied under Dr. Ludmilla Tsvierko. It was when Lisitsa met Kuznetsoff that she began to take music more seriously. In 1991, they won the first prize in The Murray Dranoff Two Piano Competition in Miami, Florida. That same year, they moved to the United States to further their careers as concert pianists. In 1992 the couple married. Their New York debut was at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center in 1995.
After the death of her manager, and with the thought that she was “just another blonde Russian pianist” Lisitsa almost gave up on her career as a concert pianist, and contemplated becoming a local worker for the government in Washington, D.C., but changed her mind at the last minute influenced by one of her new fans in England. Lisitsa posted her first YouTube video in 2007, gaining even more online attention after uploading her own set of Chopin etudes online for free (in response to an illegal upload of the same set beforehand). Her set of Chopin etudes reached the number one slot on Amazon’s classical video recordings, and became the most-viewed online set of Chopin etudes on YouTube.
Furthering her career, Lisitsa and her husband put their life savings in recording a CD of Rachmaninov concertos with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2010. In the spring of 2012, before her Royal Albert Hall debut, Lisitsa was signed on to Decca Records, who later released her Rachmaninov CD set. By mid-2012 she had nearly 50 million views on her YouTube videos.
Lisitsa has performed in various venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Benaroya Hall, Musikverein and Royal Albert Hall. She is well known for her online recitals and practicing streams. She has also collaborated with violinist Hilary Hahn for various recital engagements.
Lisitsa has recorded six CDs for Audiofon Records, including three solo CDs and two discs of duets with her husband Alexei Kuznetsoff; a Gold CD for CiscoMusic label with cellist DeRosa; a duet recital on VAI label with violinist Ida Haendel; and DVDs of Frédéric Chopin’s 24 Etudes, Schubert–Liszt Schwanengesang.
Her recording of the 4 sonatas for violin and piano by composer Charles Ives, made with Hahn, was released in October 2011 on Deutsche Grammophone label. Her album “Valentina Lisitsa Live at the Royal Albert Hall” (based on her debut performance at that venue 19 June 2012) was released 2 July 2012.
Lisitsa has recently recorded several projects from the composers Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Chopin, and Beethoven. Her complete album of Rachmaninoff concertos was released in October 2012 by Decca Records. The most recent album of Liszt works was released in October 2013 on Decca label in 2 formats – CD and 12″ LP which was cut unedited from analog tape.