Born in 1961, Alexander Kniazev, whose father was a doctor and whose mother was an engineer, embarked on a musical career in his early childhood. Following an audition held in the middle of the school year which revealed his extraordinary ability and perfect pitch to the music teachers, the young Alexander was admitted to a music school where he gave up the piano to study the cello under Alexander Fedorchenko. In 1979, he was admitted to the Moscow Conservatory while pursuing organ studies under Mrs Kozlova at the Nijny Novgorod Conservatory where he graduated in 1991.
He won the first prize at the prestigious Vilnius National Cello Competition at the age of sixteen and subsequently won other prizes including the 2nd prize at the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow and the 1st prize at the Pretoria International Competition.
Alexander Kniazev has performed as a soloist with leading orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra and more recently the Tokyo NHK and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and conductors including Evgeny Svetlanov, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Vladimir Fedoseev, Yuri Temirkanov and Neemi Järvi.
Alexander Kniazev became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory in 1995. He urges his pupils above all to acquire the broadest possible musical knowledge and encourages them to attend concerts and opera performances in order to become musicians rather than merely good technicians. He won the “Best Musician of the Year” award in 1999 in Russia and was one of the most prestigious performers at the “December Nights” at the Moscow Festival organized by Svyatoslav Richter.
He is an extremely gifted chamber music player and loves performing with his friends, particularly Vadim Repin, Laurent Korcia, Dmitri Makhtin, Boris Berezovsky, Brigitte Engerer and Nikolai Lugansky with whom he shares a passion for chess.
In addition to his many performances of works for the cello, Alexander Kniazev also enjoys playing the organ and his encounter with Jean Guillou represents another milestone in his musical career: “Alexander Kniazev is one of the most remarkable figures in today’s musical world. The concert and the recording that we made together enabled me to appreciate the extraordinary expressive intensity of his playing, which extends well beyond his boundless technical capacity. I hail Alexander Kniazev as a leading performer and certainly one of the most moving artists in our time.”
In January 2004, Alexander Kniazev performed Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris and took part in the Folles Journées de Nantes. Following a recital at the Auditorium du Louvre on 1st March, he will appear again as one of the regular guest performers at the Festival de la Roque d’Anthéron. Everyone eagerly awaits his 2004 summer recital concerts with Evgeny Kissin at the Montpellier and Verbier Festivals and a performance of the Saint-Saëns cello concerto with Maestro Temirkanov in Venice.
His recording with “Le Chant du Monde” of Bloch’s “Schelomo” with Maestro Svetlanov and the Russian State Symphony Orchestra received the highest awards. Alexander Kniazev’s recording of Max Reger’s compositions was included in the “Repertoire Magazine” selection of the best CDs.
In March 2004, Warner Classics release Alexander Kniazev’s compelling interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites.
Alexander Kniazev plays a cello belonging to the Russian State Collection which used to be Gregor Piatigorsky's and has a curious pedigree. Since the label reads "Bergonzi, Cremona 1733", it would seem that the instrument came from the workshop of the Cremona violin-maker Carlo Bergonzi (1683-1747). However, no violoncelli are known to have come down to us from Bergonzi. In the 19th-century many celli produced by the Venetian instrument builder Matteo Goffriller (1659-1742) were attributed to Bergonzi and may be the case here.