Raffi Besalyan

Armenian-born American pianist Besalyan has established an international reputation of a magnetic and passionate performer. Active as a recitalist, orchestral soloist, and chamber musician, Besalyan appears in many important music venues worldwide. Critics on both sides of the Atlantic have praised his performances for their virility, poetry, and extraordinary technical command.

Dr. Besalyan made his formal New York debut in Carnegie Hall after winning the Artists International Competition and was subsequently invited to perform at Merkin Concert Hall on the Artists International “Outstanding Alumni-Winners" series. He made his Chicago debut in the famed Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center as the featured guest artist for the Chicago International Music Festival. Among his competition awards are top prizes received from the Josef Hofmann International Piano Competition, the New York Frinna Awerbuch International Competition, and the MTNA National Piano Competition.

In recent years, Raffi Besalyan has dazzled his audiences in North and South America, Europe, Russia, and Asia, appearing as a soloist with the Osaka Symphony Orchestra (Japan), the Orchestra Sinfonica del Festival di Chioggia in Venice (Italy), the Yerevan Symphony Orchestra (Armenia), the Belgorod Symphony (Russia), the Kharkov Symphony (Ukraine), the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, the Owensboro Symphony (Kentucky), and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, among others.

Since his highly successful tour of Japan in 2001, Dr. Besalyan visits the country on a yearly basis for concerts and master classes arranged by IMC Music in Tokyo and MAS Management. His debut solo album, Dance, Drama, Decadence (IMC Music, Japan), has earned international accolades since its release in June 2012. The album features virtuoso works by Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Ravel and premiere recordings of colorful folkloristic pieces by Armenian composers Komitas and Baghdassarian.

Besalyan’s first critically acclaimed recording of solo works by Rachmaninoff and Babajanian for the Sono Luminus label, The Return, was released in March of 2015 and is distributed by Naxos. He has also recorded The Bach-Busoni Edition, Vol. 1, with Sara Davis Buechner, released by Koch International Classics in September 2008.

Raffi Besalyan 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.

In 2014, Dr. Besalyan joined the faculty of Georgia State University in Atlanta, where he is currently Assistant Professor of Piano. A former faculty member of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Rowan University in New Jersey, he served on the faculties of Festival Musica in Laguna in Venice, Italy, and the International Summer Music Festival at Rowan. He has been active as an adjudicator for PTNA and Osaka International Music Competition in Japan, International Chopin Piano Competition in Asia, competitions in Italy, and for various chapters of MTNA. He is an advisory board member and co-artistic director for The Bach Society of Atlanta.