13 September 2021
By Ellie Palmer
21 years on, the Russian pianist is set to appear on the cover of issue 122 of Pianist magazine, out on 17 September
Walking onto the stage in his little suit and bow tie, 8-year-old Daniil Trifonov takes his seat right on the very edge of the piano stool; he'd be too small to reach the piano pedals otherwise.
Above, the youngster performs Mikhail Glinka's La séperation at a concert hosted by the laureates of the A.D. Artobolevskaya Competition for Young Pianists in Moscow in 1999. Trifonov had already won 1st prize in the younger age group.
Fast forward 21 years and the Russian pianist is one of the world's greatest. Already under his awards belt, he has: Prizewinner at the International Chopin Piano Competition (2010), First Prize and Grand Prix at the International Tchaikovsky Competition (2011), First Prize at the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition (2011), Gramophone Classical Music Awards' Artist of the Year (2016), and a Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo (2018).
Not only that, but he has also performed worldwide with the likes of the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Michael Tilson Thomas, Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and so many more.
It's a meteoric rise for the pianist, but not one that took many by surprise. In the video's comments section, one viewer says, "You can tell just by watching this video that this boy was different from other kid 'prodigies'. He FELT the music he was playing, he fully understood it — it had become a part of him, and not just a virtuous piece any little kid learns to show off. I can not describe in words my admiration for this wonderful pianist."
The 30-year-old is now considered one of the world's greatest living pianists. © Deutsche Grammophon
Another says, "[It] makes sense why he is now one of the top pianists in the world. Even at 8 [years old] he plays the first nocturne with such emotion, and then follows with an incredible composition of his own. Bravo!"
We would absolutely have to agree with both of those comments.
Trifonov appears on the cover of issue 122 of Pianist, our 20th birthday celebration issue, out on 17 September. Inside he talks about reinventing Bach, listening to Horowitz, lessons with Sergei Babayan, and why he takes an organic approach to playing.
Main image: © Deutsche Grammophon