The Russian pianist and music pedagogue, Victor Karpovich Merzhanov, (Russian: Ви́ктор Ка́рпович Мержа́нов), studied at Tambov Musical College with Solomon Starikov and Alexander Poltoratsky. From 1936 to 1941 he studied at the Moscow Conservatory in the classes of Samuel Feinberg (piano) and Alexander Goedicke (organ). On June 24, 1941, he graduated with distinction in both instruments to be immediately sent for military training as a tank driver. While already in the army, he learned through a letter from his former professor that Conservatoire authorities had his name engraved on the marble plate which lists the Conservatoire’s best graduates (along with those of Scriabin and Sergei Rachmaninov). Merzhanov spent the entire World War II as a soldier in the Red Army. In 1945, he exchanged his uniform for a tuxedo and entered the Third All-Soviet Music Performance Competition in Moscow, where he was awarded 1st Prize (shared with Sviatoslav Richter).
In 1945 Victor Merzhanov became assistant to Samuel Feinberg at the Moscow Conservatoire, a post he held for three years. Meanwhile in 1946, he began teaching at the Conservatoire, an activity which he continued until his death. In 1949 he won the 10th Prize at the 4th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. Merzhanov dedicated his entire artistic career to performance and teaching. Merzhanov was a Professor at the Moscow Conservatory from 1947 onwards. Among his students are prize-winners of international competitions: Victor Bunin, Vladimir Bunin, Nazzareno Carusi, Yuri Didenko, Igor Girfanov, Hideyo Harada, Irina Khovanskaya, Anahit Nersesyan, Mikhail Olenev, Tatiana Shebanova, Yuri Slesarev, Ruslan Sviridov, Lambis Vassiliadis, Oleg Volkov, Anna Yarovaya, Irina Zahharenkova and many others.
Since 1946, Victor Merzhanov was a soloist with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra; performing in the Soviet Union and abroad. His repertoire was broad, including works of various styles and genres. Merzhanov’s style was based on his wonderful virtuoso technique and in-born musicality. Among his notable achievements are his interpretations of Frédéric Chopin’s 24 Preludes, Johannes Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Franz Liszt’s 6 Études d’exécution transcendante d’après Paganini, Scriabin’s Sonata No. 5, Schumann’s Carnival, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. From the start of his career Merzhanov championed Contemporary classical music and was chosen by Prokofiev to give the first performance of his Sixth Sonata. During his 60-year stage career, Victor Merzhanov gave more than 2,000 recitals and concerts in Russia, Europe, USA, China, and other countries, with such conductors as Lorin Maazel, Kurt Sanderling, Kirill Kondrashin, Nikolai Anosov, Aleksandr Gauk, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Yuri Temirkanov and Evgeny Svetlanov. In 1971 at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire, a 25th anniversary concert was held for Merzhanov. He played three piano concertos by L.v. Beethoven (C minor), F. Liszt (E flat major) and S. Rachmaninov (D minor), an event remembered to this day.
Victor Merzhanov was a frequent visitor to Poland, where he gave performances (his last appearance was on August 23, 1999 at the International Chopin Festival in Duszniki), was a visiting professor of post-graduate studies at the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw (1973-1976), gave master-classes in Wrocław (1980’s and 1990’s) and was a member of the jury for the Liszt Piano Competition in Wrocław and the Chopin Competition in Warsaw (1975, 1995 and 2000).
At the time of his death Victor Merzhanov was still a Professor at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and Tambov Rachmaninov Institute. He had sat on the jury of of more than 40 international competitions including the Rachmaninov Competition (which he founded), the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Bartok-Liszt Competition in Budapest, and international music competitions in Athens, Bolzano, Brussels, Budapest, Montevideo, Montreal, Naples, Porto, Tokyo, Valencia, Zwickau and others. In addition, Merzhanov was the artistic director of the Rachmaninov Piano Courses, and he contributed greatly to the Rachmaninov Museum in Ivanovka near Tambov.
Victor Merzhanov made numerous recordings for major labels in the USA, Italy, Japan and the USSR (Melodiya and Vista Vera). His recordings demonstrate his repertoire, including works from the Baroque period to contemporary music, from works by J.S. Bach and L.v. Beethoven, F. Chopin, F. Liszt, J. Brahms, E. Grieg and M. Mussorgsky to those by S. Rachmaninov, A. Scriabin, S. Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich.