“Kian Soltani is a young cellist on his way to the top, but one who is finding his own way rather than following well-trodden paths.” Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Kian Soltani - Biography

New worlds of imagination appear whenever Kian Soltani makes music. A sense of individuality, depth of expression and charismatic presence are among the elements of the young Austrian cellist’s captivating artistry. Rave reviews and invitations to perform at the world’s leading concert halls have propelled the 25-year-old musician from rising star to one of the most exciting musicians of his generation. Soltani’s status was confirmed in February 2017 when he won Germany’s prestigious Leonard Bernstein Award, and underlined five months later when he signed an exclusive contract to record for Deutsche Grammophon. His debut DG album, Home, comprising works for cello and piano by Schubert, Schumann and Reza Vali, is set for international release in January 2018.

Kian Soltani made his international breakthrough in 2011 at the age of nineteen with acclaimed debuts in the Vienna Musikverein’s Goldener Saal and at the Hohenems Schubertiade. He attracted further worldwide attention in April 2013 as winner of the International Paulo Cello Competition in Helsinki. In addition to his work as concerto soloist and chamber musician, he has flourished as principal cello of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO). In the summer of 2015 he joined Daniel Barenboim as one of the soloists in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, performing the work during the WEDO’s Waldbühnenkonzert in Berlin, at the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals, at the BBC Proms in London, and at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

Other career highlights include a weekend devoted to “Kian Soltani and his Guests” at the 2015 Hohenems Schubertiade, tours with Anne-Sophie Mutter and her Mutter’s Virtuosi and performances of Strauss’s Don Quixote on tour with the WEDO and Barenboim beginning in April 2017 and continuing throughout the year. He participated in the opening week of Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in March 2017 and gave a concert of Persian music with the Shiraz Ensemble two months later, while his forthcoming engagements at the hall include a Beethoven Piano Trios cycle with Daniel and Michael Barenboim and a recital with Aaron Pilsan. Other highlights of the 2017-18 season include performances of the Elgar Concerto at the Alte Oper Frankfurt and Oslo’s Konserthus, Haydn’s Concerto No. 1 at Munich’s Prinzregententheater, and the Schumann Concerto at the Philharmonie de Paris (among other venues), as well as appearances at the Salzburg, Verbier, Lucerne and Aix-en-Provence Easter festivals.

Kian Soltani was born in Bregenz in 1992 to a family of Persian musicians. He began playing the cello at the age of four and was only twelve when he joined Ivan Monighetti’s class at the Basel Music Academy. He remained with Monighetti for eleven years, absorbing enduring lessons from the last person to study with Mstislav Rostropovich at the Moscow Conservatory. Chosen as a Mutter Foundation scholarship holder in 2014, he has undertaken further studies at Germany’s Kronberg Academy as a member of its Young Soloist Programme, as well as at the International Music Academy in Liechtenstein. 

A natural communicator, Kian is determined to connect with as wide an audience as possible whether from the concert stage or via social media outlets. “I believe this is an exciting time for classical music and that its future is extremely bright,” he observes. “There are so many amazing young musicians, and they’re interested in so many things aside from classical music. I think we musicians should take inspiration from everywhere and keep our music open to everyone!”

Kian Soltani plays the “London” Stradivarius 1694 cello, on generous loan from the J & A Beare International Violin Society.