Born the son of two Russian scientists, Lugansky's exceptional musical ability was obvious from early childhood. He started formal lessons when he was just five years old and within a decade, under the expert tutelage of Tatiana Nikolayeva, was already receiving glowing praise for his performances of both the classical and virtuoso repertoires. He won a silver medal at the 8th Leipzig International Bach Competition in 1988 and just two years later carried off the Second Prize in the Moscow Rachmaninov Competition.
Lugansky's greatest triumph came, however, in 1994 when he won the 10th International Tchaikovsky Competition. Since then he has leapt to international stardom with a string of celebrated concert appearances and recordings. No wonder his former mentor, Nikolayeva, referred to Lugansky as "the next one" in an interview shortly before her death, while there are already those who see him as a vital part of the grand Russian line extending back through Neuhaus, Gilels and Richter. His technique is colossal, yet Lugansky plays with a discerning clarity and structural command that brings to mind the playing of the composer with whom Lugansky is most closely associated: Sergey Rachmaninov.
Lugansky's glittering career has already taken him all over the world, from Western Europe to Japan, Brazil and Bulgaria, with orchestras of the calibre of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London Philharmonia, the Halle Orchestra in Manchester, the Dresdner Philharmonic, the Berlin Symphonic Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic, the Tokyo Symphonic, the National Orchestra of Russia, the Netherlands Philharmonic and the Rotterdam Philharmonic. He made his American debut in 1996 as part of a tour that included three remarkable performances of Tchaikovsky's First Concerto at the Hollywood Bowl with Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra. Other distinguished conductors Lugansky has worked closely with include Paavo Berglund, Jiri Belohlavek, Frans Bruggen, Semyon Byshkov, Riccardo Chailly, Christoph Eschenbach, Marek Janowski, Neeme Jarvi, Armin Jordan, Sir Charles Mackerras, Kent Nagano, Sakari Oramo, Mikhail Pletnev, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Leonard Slatkin, Saulius Sondeckis, Vladimir Spivakov, Yevgeny Svetlanov, Yuri Temirkanov, and Edo de Waart.
Lugansky has over thirty major concertos in his repertoire, ranging from Bach to Rachmaninov. Yet he is also a skilled and sensitive chamber musician who likes nothing better than to make music with small groups of friends and colleagues. However, whenever he has the chance, 'Kolya' likes nothing better than to return home to his wife and two children in Moscow, and indulge his passion for chess.
Lugansky made his recital debut for Erato with Chopin's highly exacting Etudes, works for which his rare combination of an immensely powerful technical facility and a spellbindingly poetic touch could have been tailor-made - as was confirmed by the coveted award of a Diapason d'Or de l'annee as best instrumental recording of 2000. He was also awarded the Diapason d'Or de l'annee for his recording of Rachmaninov's Preludes in 2001, of which was said, "Rachmaninov's vision has rarely been so sumptuous" (Le Monde de la Musique) and again in 2002 for his recording of Chopin's 24 Preludes which received acclaim throughout the classical press. In 2003 his recording of Rachmaninov's Concertos Nos. 2 and 4 with the CBSO and Sakari Oramo was awarded a CHOC du Monde de la Musique.
Following recent European tours with the Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev and l'Orchestre National de France under Kurt Masur, Nikolai Lugansky makes his New York debut in December 2003 with a recital at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
After a successful Japanese tour with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Ricardo Chailly, in 2004 Nikolai Lugansky will return to Japan for a tour with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev and again later in the year for concerts with the Tokyo Philharmonic orchestra and a recital tour with violinist Vadim Repin.
His next recording will be a recital disc with Prokofiev's Sonatas Nos. 4 and 6 together with pieces from Romeo and Juliet to be released in Spring 2004. Following this will be a recording of Rachmaninov's orchestral variations with the CBSO and Oramo released in Autumn 2004 then the completion of the Rachmaninov piano concerto cycle with Nos. 2 and 4 released in Spring 2005.