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Exclusive: YouTube’s favourite pianist signs major-label contract

This has been under negotiation for much of the past year and there have been a number of legal obstacles to overcome. But I am thrilled to learn a few  minutes ago – there will be an official announcement Friday – that Valentina Lisitsa has signed an exclusive contract with Decca.

The debut release will be her June 19 London solo recital at the Royal Albert Hall. Val, who has outscored every other classical pianist in Youtube with 43 million hits, is one of very few artists who can sell a 5,000-seat space without supporting attractions, performing seals, or opera singers.

After a terrible few years in which she was reduced to selling household wares for a living, Val is finally coming into her own as a major artist of her generation. I very much hope that her next release, after the RAH recital, will be the four Rachmaninov concertos plus Paganini Variations that she recorded at her own expense with the London Symphony Orchestra, conductor Michael Francis, and which has a place on my shelf as one of the outstanding performances of recent times.

Some day, the full story will be told. Beneath the video clips, you can read a draft of Friday’s press release.

Press release
25 May 2012

Internationally acclaimed pianist Valentina Lisitsa signs to Decca Classics and takes over Royal Albert Hall for her London debut concert.


Today it was announced that internationally acclaimed pianist Valentina Lisitsa has signed an exclusive recording contract with Decca Classics.

Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Valentina began playing the piano at the age of three and performed her first solo recital just one year later. She has won prestigious awards for her playing internationally, including the Murray Dranoff Two Piano Competition (together with her husband Alexei Kuznetsoff).


Valentina Lisitsa has already performed at major international venues including Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York and the Vienna Musikverein, and in countries as far apart as the Netherlands and Brazil. She has played with renowned orchestras including Chicago Symphony, Seattle Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony, collaborating with conductors Manfred Honeck, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, among others. Upcoming performances are confirmed with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Philharmonie im Gasteig, Munich with Muenchner Symphoniker and recitals at the Victoria Hall in Geneva and Philharmonie Berlin.

With more than 43 million views and over 52,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, the young pianist is not only one of the fastest-rising stars of the international concert scene but probably the single most-watched classical musician, having rapidlyovertaken long-established giants of the piano world in terms of global online viewing figures.

Paul Moseley, Managing Director, Decca Classics, said: “Valentina is a truly unique artist. Her YouTube fame is genuine and well-deserved, and we are proud to be working with her as she reaches out to huge numbers of classical fans in a modern and very immediate way”.

Where most classical artists merely use the social media to help promote their existing touring and recording schedules,Valentina Lisitsa has turned the traditional business model upside-down by becoming the first classical solo artist to launch her career all on her own, without first signing up with a tour promoter or record company.

In a move that proves just how successfully an artist can use the social media not only to champion classical music and performance but even to kick-start an entirely self-made career, on June 19th Valentina Lisitsa will be performing at the Royal Albert Hall, one of the world’s most famous classical venues and home of the BBC Proms.

Jasper Hope, Chief Operating Officer, Royal Albert Hall said: “Valentina is a force of nature and an extraordinary talent. I don’t know anybody else who has done this before and we simply had to open our doors to her and give her this opportunity on the world’s most famous stage”

As a ‘thank you’ to her current online fans Valentina is determined to make the concert a fully digital and interactive experience – by inviting fans to vote online to decide what she will play and by fully streaming the concert live via YouTube for those who can’t travel to London. This level of online digital interaction is a first for a solo classical concert.


Aptly for a truly global artist, Decca will immediately make the recording of her Royal Albert Hall concert available for pre-order with a digital-only release on June 25th, to be followed by the release in CD format on 3rd July.


Valentina Lisitsa said: “I am thrilled signing to Decca Classics today and immensely looking forward to my debut concert at the Royal Albert Hall. I could not have done this without all my online fans around the world. Their reactions tell me every day that I am doing the right thing and that’s the best reward for my hard work. Now I want to say thank you and give them a great concert live and online. Basically it’s a gathering for friends old and new. It’s a concert, but it’s also a celebration. There’s a lady from Barbados coming, even people from New Zealand.”


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  1. Way to go Val! “Rach on!”

  2. Congratulations to Mrs Lisitsa!
    No doubt she deserves it and a lot more!

    I’m really impressed that she’s live-streaming RAH concert, it is very exciting.

    Wish the best for her. So we wonder that her Rachmaninov concerti and Liszt selection is coming out really soon :)

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