The Russian pianist, Alexander Melnikov, began studying music at age 6 at Moscow’s Central Music School. Melnikov showed talent at an early age, playing Rachmaninov's first concerto at the age of 12, but he would never describe himself as a child prodigy. He continued at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory under Lev Naumov, graduating in 1997. Later he completed his post-graduate studies in Munich with Eliso Virsaladze. Of key importance in his early years was his contact with Sviatoslav Richter, who taught him a great deal about combining power with subtlety. A complementary thread in his development was his engagement with historically informed performance through his studies and co-operation with Andreas Staier. He also studied with Karl-Ulrich Schnabel at the Fondazione per il Pianoforte (Lago di Como, Italy). While still at school he became a prize-winner of several major international piano competitions, including the Schumann Piano Competition in Zwickau in 1989 and the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels in 1991.
Shortly afterwards Alexander Melnikov began his international career. Since 15 years he participates in numerous International Music Festivals all over the world (Scleswig Hollstein, Vervier among many others).As a recitalist he appears in halls such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt and Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet etc. He has made concerto appearances with orchestras such as the Russian National, Tokyo Philharmonic, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Philadelphia Orchestra (under Charles Dutoit), Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (under Valery Gergiev), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, NHK Symphony and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. As Bavarian Radio has reported: "His playing is always refined, yet resolutely committed. His great achievement is to be simultaneously conspicuous and discreet, both sensitive and full of character."
Along with solo and orchestral appearances, chamber music plays an important part in Alexander Melnikov's activities. Between 1993 and 2003 he performed with violinist Vadim Repin, and he presently appears with violinist Isabelle Faust,cellist Jean-Guihen Queras. He appears regularly in piano duo appearances with Andreas Staier, Boris Berezovsky, and Alexei Lubimov. His collegues in chamber music have also included Natalia Gutman, Yuri Bashmet, Alexander Rudin, Pieter Wispelwey and Jean-Guihen Queyras. Melnikov also maintained close artistic ties with Sviatoslav Richter, who regularly invited him to participate in his festivals in Moscow (December Nights), and his chamber music festival in Grange du Meslay (Tours, France).
Perhaps surprisingly, Alexander Melnikov removed the Russian Romantics - an early love of his - from his active repertoire for several years; it took an encounter with Mikhail Pletnev to reignite his interest in their music and he went on to make deeply insightful and much praised recordings of Sergei Rachmaninov and Scriabin for Harmonia Mundi. His association with the label arose through his regular recital partner, violinist Isabelle Faust, and in 2010 their complete recording of the Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano won both Germany's ECHO Klassik prize and a Gramophone Award and was nominated for the Grammy. Melnikov also makes a habit of contributing illuminating notes to the booklets accompanying his CD’s. In November 2010 his recording of the Dmitri Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues received the „Choc de classica" for the best recording in 2010, well deserved recognition for the Russian pianist, although - as an exceptionally modest and self-critical artist whose abilities are entirely at the service of the music - he prefers to avoid any cult of the personality. Melnikov, born in Moscow in 1973, commands the classic Russian technique that enables him to rise to virtuoso challenges, but his thoughtful musicianship defies easy classification.
Since 2002 Alexander Melnikov has taught piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK. In addition, Melnikov’s second love is aviation, and he is a qualified private pilot.
"Melnikov's playing has wonderful colour and imagination ... His pianissimi are astonishing, with long, meticulously nuanced passages often remaining very, very quiet, while, in the sculpted fugues, the intensification of volume runs to a purposeful plan ... Everything is testament to reflection and skill, yet the pianist is not lecturing, but laughing, dreaming, lamenting and dancing." - Jan Brachmann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung