Hailed as “a true heir of the mainstream of Russian pianism, like Horowitz” (Chopin Magazine, Japan), “a keyboard phenomenon” (Fanfare Magazine), “a formidable pianist with a commanding presence and rich interpretive gifts” (American Record Guide), ”a master of his art” (The Record Geijutsu Magazine, Japan), Raffi Besalyan has established an international reputation of a magnetic and passionate performer.
Associate Professor of Piano at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Dr. Raffi Besalyan has toured North and South America, Europe, Russia, and Asia. His performances have been applauded in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall and Merkin Hall (New York City), Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.), Orchestra Hall (Chicago), Atlanta Symphony Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center (Detroit), Moscow Conservatory’s Rachmaninoff Hall and Maly Zal (Russia), Izumi Hall and Phoenix Hall (Japan). He dazzled his audiences appearing as a soloist with many prominent orchestras, including the Osaka Symphony Orchestra in Japan, the Orchestra Sinfonica Del Festival Di Chioggia in Venice, Italy, the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, Yerevan Symphony Orchestra in Armenia, Belgorod, Symphony in Russia, Kharkov Symphony in Ukraine, the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, and Moscow Chamber Orchestra among others. Besalyan’s solo recitals have also been broadcast live on National Public Radio. Critics on both sides of the Atlantic have praised his performances for their virility, poetry and extraordinary technical command.
Among his competition awards are top prizes received from the Josef Hofmann International Piano Competition, Artists International Competition, the New York Frinna Awerbuch International Competition, and the MTNA National Piano Competition.
Besalyan visits Japan on a yearly basis for concerts, master classes and adjudication for PTNA, Osaka International Music Competition and the International Chopin Competition in Asia arranged by IMC Music in Tokyo and MAS management in Osaka.
In 2012 Besalyan established himself as an award-winning recording artist, receiving international accolades for his album “Dance, Drama, Decadence” (IMC Music, Japan). The album received the prestigious Jun-Tokusen Award from The Record Geijutsu, Japan’s leading classical music magazine, and was chosen as the “Classical Album of the Month” by Mainichi Shinbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers. “Dance, Drama, Decadence” was selected as the “Best New Release of the Month” by Tokyo FM, a prominent radio channel, where the CD premiered in its entirety. In addition, Ongaku no Tomo of Japan recommended and archived the CD as a study reference for music students and professors alike. Fanfare Magazine featured Besalyan in an extensive interview followed by rave reviews of the album, and another glowing review appeared in American Record Guide. Besalyan was also interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio’s Norman Gilliland on The Midday, and Dance, Drama, Decadence was aired on WPR (Madison, WI) and KHPR (Honolulu, HI). The album features virtuoso works by Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Ravel and premiere recordings of colorful folkloristic pieces by Armenian composers Komitas and Baghdassarian. Besalyan is also featured on “Bach-Busoni Edition, Vol.I” for Koch International Classics. Besalyan’s first critically acclaimed recording of solo works by S. Rachmaninoff and A. Babajanian for the GRAMMY® Award-Winning record label Sono Luminus entitled “The Return” was released in March of 2015, and is distributed by Naxos. “The Return” has been aired on several radio stations across the U.S. and Canada, such as the NPR, WGBH Boston, WRUV Vermont, the SiriusXM Washington D.C., Wisconsin Public Radio, The King FM Seattle, WFMT Chicago, The Grand FM Ontario and CBC Public Radio. WQXR, New York’s premiere classical radio station featured the album as the New and Noteworthy Release of September 2015.
Native of Yerevan, Armenia, Besalyan studied at the Tchaikovsky Special Music School for Gifted Children. He received his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory as a student of Sergey Barseghyan. He received an additional Master of Music degree from Rowan University under Veda Zuponcic, and studied at the Manhattan School of Music with legendary American pianist Byron Janis and Sara Davis Buechner. His studies at the Moscow State Conservatory included classes with Alexei Nasedkin, Victor Merzhanov and Naum Shtarkman.
Former Professor of Piano at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Rowan University in New Jersey, Besalyan has also been a guest artist/teacher for Festival Musica in Laguna in Venice, Italy, the International Music Festival at Rowan, the Cap Ferret International Music Festival in France, and the International Summer Music Performance Program at Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, Greece.