The Russian pianist, Elena Kuschnerova, was born into a musical family. She started her pianistic education when she was 5 with her mother, a concert pianist, and played her first concerto with orchestra at the age of 9 (The f minor concerto by Bach under the baton of Emin Khachaturyan, recorded by Moscow Radio). She excelled at the elite Moscow Central Music School where she studied with Tatiana Kestner, also the teacher of Andrei Gavrilov and Nikolai Lugansky, and later at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory with Sergei Dorensky. She was influenced by the great and controversial Russian composer Alexander Lazarevich Lokshin (1920-1987), who wrote a variation cycle for her.
After graduating with an honors diploma, Elena Kuschnerova spent eight years touring in the capitals of the former Soviet Union, with occasional forays into Western Europe. Moving to Germany in 1992 gave a push to her career. Her recitals and CD's encompass an enormous range, from Bach to first performances of works composed for her, and have brought her international acclaim. She has concertized with a number of orchestras, in addition to expressing her deep love for chamber music on the concert stage.
Elena Kuschnerova played at many important Festivals such as the Gustav Mahler Music Festival in Toblach, the Bach Festival in Ansbach, the Festival of Rarities of the Piano Music in Husum, Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele, Clef de Soleil in Lille, etc. In 2002, she premiered a piano concerto written for her by Siegfried Matthus at the Dresden Festival together with Dresdne Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Marek Janowski. She has performed this work many times since then, including a performance with the RSO Berlin under Michail Jurowski.
Elena Kuschnerova has been conducting concert tours in Japan for many years. A CD with live recording of her 2003 Tokyo recital was released by Steinway Japan. Elena Kuschnerova's new Igor Stravinsky and Johannes Brahms CD's have been released in spring 2005 and the latter has received the Supersonic Award from the music magazin Pizzicato. Currently she is recording Seven Romantic Ballades composed for her by the Russian composer Mikhail Kollontay. She has been a Steinway Artist since 2002.
Elena Kuschnerova was the last pianistic discovery of Harold Schonberg (1915-2003), music critic for the New York Times and prolific author on great performers. After listening to her debut CD, he dubbed her a "Pianist who grabs the imagination", and he lauded her Scriabin CD as "the best recorded performances I am familiar with" (American Record Guide, 2000 and 2001). Earlier, Kuschnerova's Prokofiev CD (1997) had been awarded the prestigious "German Record Critics' Award (Preis der Deutschen Schalplattenkritik). A year later it was included on a list of the 50 best "Desert Island" piano recordings of all time by the German music magazine SCALA. In its 70-year history, the Penguin Guide, the world's most venerated source of classical reviews, has bestowed fewer than two dozen Rosettes on piano recordings, a distinction that eluded many of history's most famous pianists. The most recent of these was awarded to Elena Kuschnerova's all-Bach Recital (2001) in the Penguin Guide's 2003-2004 issue. The team of Penguin reviewers admonished readers to "make no mistake, this disc... is altogether outstanding. Indeed it is one of the finest Bach recitals on the piano... the present recital leaves the listener feeling exhilarated and purified as only the best Bach playing can."
Elena Kuschnerova is also internationally recognized as a piano professor, giving master-classes in Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, and the USA. Since May 2006 she has been guest professor at the Elisabeth University of Music in Hiroshima.