Alexander Toradze is best known for his interpretations of piano repertory by Russian composers, particularly Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, and most notably Prokofiev. He has drawn high praise for his set of the five Prokofiev piano concertos on Philips. His performance of the popular Third Concerto from that cycle was chosen from among 70 others as the finest recording of the work ever by the prestigious International Piano Quarterly. Toradze's repertory also includes works by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Ravel, Bartók, and Shostakovich. Toradze has concertized throughout Europe, the Americas, Japan, and more remote parts of the globe, and has often participated in seven- or eight-hour marathon concerts with his students, presenting all or most of the piano outputs of Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and others. Toradze is known for praying before each concert and has often spoken of the importance of spirituality in art. He has made a number of recordings over the years, most of them available on EMI and Philips.
Alexander Toradze was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1952. His father, David, was a noted composer and his mother an ophthalmologist and actress. Toradze studied music at the Moscow Conservatory with Jakov Zak and Lev Naumov. While a student there he captured second prize in the 1977 Van Cliburn Competition.
Toradze graduated from the conservatory in 1978 and shortly afterward was given a professorship there. He also appeared regularly in concerts throughout the Soviet Union, though he felt stifled by bureaucratic controls. In 1983 Toradze defected while on a concert tour in Spain and soon moved to the U.S. His career blossomed quickly and in 1986 his first major recording was issued on EMI, a disc of the Prokofiev Seventh Sonata and works by Stravinsky and Ravel.
Other successful recordings and concerts followed, and in 1991 he was appointed professor of piano at Indiana University, South Bend. Among his first ventures in South Bend was the establishment of the Toradze Piano Studio, a vehicle to mentor talented multinational students who often present the aforementioned marathon concerts with him on tour.
In 1998 Toradze's acclaimed set of the Prokofiev concertos, with Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra, was issued. In the 2002-2003 season Toradze and his students gave highly praised marathon concerts in Italy, Germany, and the U.K. The Toradze Piano Studio's 2010-2011 schedule included concerts in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Basel, and Strasbourg.