1925

Born in New York, on November 26, to Russian parents who emigrated after the Revolution.

1932

Begins his education with Siloti, a former student of Liszt who had been the central figure of St Petersburg’s musical life for several decades.

1939

Enters the Curtis Institute in Rudolf Serkin’s class.

1943

Wins the two most important American competitions and makes his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

1944 & 1945

Two major tours with the Little Orchestra conducted by Adolf Busch. First record (Bach’s Concerto in D minor BWV 1052).

1946

First recital at Carnegie Hall.

1947

Rodzinski, music director of the New York Philharmonic, suggests his major colleagues (Koussevitsky, Monteux, Szell, Mitropoulos, Dorati) to invite him. Gives many community concerts while touring the United States.

1948

Two recitals at Carnegie Hall, in February and December. Long stay in France and Italy, for his own pleasure, without giving any concerts.

1950

Youngest participant at the Prades Festival. Spends the whole summer with Casals.

1951

Numerous recordings, in solo (Brahms’ Handel Variations), concerto (Mozart’s K. 449 under Casals), and chamber music (five trios by Beethoven and Schubert with Schneider and Casals). Spends two weeks on holiday in Greece, discovering the ancient Greek civilization.

1953

Takes over the artistic direction of the Prades Festival. In December, plays Brahms’ 2nd Concerto in New York with Szell, Chopin’s Second in Detroit with Paray and Beethoven’s Fourth in Philadelphia with Ormandy.

1954

His recital in London is awarded the Harriet Cohen Prize for the best recital of the season.

1955

Beginning of a regular collaboration with Munch and the Boston Symphony. First tours in South America and South Africa. Records the complete Chopin Nocturnes with Columbia.

1956

First major tour in Asia (fifty concerts). Organizes a series of concerts for Clara Haskil in the USA. Time Magazine publishes his profile. His recording of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Concerto becomes a best-seller.

1957

Participates in the first Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. Spends the summer in Marlboro. Appears on the cover of Musical America.

1958

Records Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with Ormandy.

1959

Records Tchaikovsky’s 1st Concerto and Chopin’s 2nd Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ormandy.

1960

Supports Kennedy in the presidential campaign. Records Schumann’s Concerto with Bruno Walter. Conflict with Columbia and cancellation of subsequent projects.

1961

Performs with 12 different American orchestras. Launch of the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio in Israel and London.

1962

Trio debut in the USA (Metropolitan Museum, Carnegie Hall, White House). Recital at the first Athens Festival, in Herod Atticus Theatre.

1963

Cultural Ambassador to Bulgaria and the Middle East.

1964

Gives seven concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra and six with the Boston Symphony. Supports Johnson and Humphrey against Goldwater in the presidential elections.

1965

Tour in Russia and Romania in the spring. Beginning of his friendship with the painter Avigdor Arikha and writer Samuel Beckett. At Rubinstein’s request, includes Szymanowski’s Symphonie Concertante into his repertoire.

1966

Summer residence in Meadow Brooke with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Trio and its students (Pommier, Zukerman and Harrell).

1967

After the military coup in Greece, welcomes his friend Manos Hadjidakis to his apartment in New York. Fulfills the contract signed by the Trio for two concerts at Herod Atticus’ Theatre, but from then on refuses to play in Greece.

1968

Chairman of the Arts and Letters Committee supporting Humphrey’s candidacy for the presidential election. Records Beethoven’s Concerto N. 4 for the 25th anniversary of his debut.

1969

A year rich in recordings: Schubert (Trio D. 929 and Sonata D. 850); Beethoven (Trios, Violin and Cello Sonatas); Songs by Ned Rorem.

1970

Beethoven Year. The Trio Istomin-Stern-Rose presents the complete chamber music with piano in four series of eight concerts (London, Paris, Switzerland and Carnegie Hall).

1971

Willing to go and play in China, but the State Department refuses. The Trio inaugurates the Kennedy Center and tours Japan. Profile in The New York Times entitled Istomin: ‘I like to be alone. Grammy Award for the complete Beethoven Trios.

1972

Series of televised concerts at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées with the ORTF Chamber Orchestra conducted by Schneider.

1973

Triumphant recitals in Chicago and Carnegie Hall.

1974

Accepts invitation for the first time to play in Germany for the first time.

1975

Marries Marta Casals on February 15.

1976

Plays in Spain for the first time, finally freed from Franco. Organizes with Marta the Casals Days in Mexico for the centennial of Casals’ birth.

1977

Improvises Luciano Pavarotti’s accompaniment during a social evening. First concerts under Rostropovitch.

1978

Gives nearly a hundred concerts with orchestra.

1979

In the aftermath of the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty, gives a recital and masterclasses in Cairo and Jerusalem and tries to establish ongoing musical relations between the two countries. Becomes an adviser to Jovanovich, president of HBJ publishing house.

1980

Last tour of the Trio. Performs Tchaikovsky’s Concerto again for Carnegie Hall’s 90th anniversary. Supervises the reprinting in facsimile of Joseph Conrad’s complete works.

1981

At Rostropovich’s request, replaces Serkin for Reagan’s inaugural concert.

1982

Numerous recitals, notably in London (Queen Elizabeth Hall) and Chicago (Orchestra Hall).

1983

Plays Rachmaninoff’s 4th Concerto for the first time, under Rostropovitch and Zinman. Completes the recording of Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas with Stern.

1984

Spends the summer in Marlboro. Buys the Steinway CD 18 which had belonged to Horowitz and with which he recorded Rachmaninoff’s Concerto in 1956.

1985

Member of the American delegation to the Budapest Cultural Forum, defends Vaclav Havel’s cause. Takes over the direction of the University of Maryland Festival and Competition, to which he gives the name of William Kapell.

1986

Commissions a prelude to Henri Dutilleux.

1987

Long tours in Italy (February and October). Recital at Carnegie Hall on May 9.

1988

Beginning of big tours with a truck to transport his own pianos throughout the USA. Two series of forty concerts. At the end of the year, performs in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

1989

Continuation of the truck tours, punctuated by sold out recitals at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.

1990

Participates in the Evian Festival for Stern’s 70th birthday, playing Beethoven’s Archduke Trio again with Stern and Rostropovitch. Organizes a concert at the Juilliard School in homage to Alexandre and Kyriena Siloti.

1991

Long truck tours across the United States. Participates in the Carnegie Hall Centennial Gala. Beethoven recital at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in October. In June, records Beethoven’s Sonatas Nos. 14, 21 and 31.

1992

Continuation of the truck tours. Participation in the Evian and Puerto Rico festivals.

1993

Truck tours in January-February, April and September. Recital at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in homage to Casals for the 20th anniversary of his death.

1994

Last truck tour. Last concerts with Rostropovitch and the National Symphony, at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

1995

Records Mozart’s Concertos 21 & 24 with the Seattle Symphony conducted by Gerard Schwartz.

1996

Tour in Europe (Spain, Switzerland, France, Italy, Netherlands). Plays for the first time, in the presence of the composer, the Prelude that Dutilleux dedicated to him.

1997

Frequent presence in Europe (Italy, England, Poland). Participates in the Evian Festival for the Rostropovich’s 70th birthday. Severe thumb surgery.

1998

Tour in Italy, France and Spain in the fall.

1999

Series of masterclasses at the Manhattan School of Music.

2000

Knight of the Legion of Honor. Jubilee in New York for his 75th birthday, at Rostropovich’s initiative. Pays tribute to Paul Paray by recording his Fantasy for piano and orchestra.

2001

Inauguration of the renovated Casals Museum in Sant Salvador, with Rostropovitch. In December, records the first part of the Great Conversations in Music at the Library of Congress, devoted to the piano.

2002

Revelation of his liver cancer in March. Continues the series of Great Conversations with composers, chamber musicians and conductors.

2003

Death in Washington, D.C., on October 10.