Music critics describe Ivan Donchev as “refined” (Qobuz Magazine), “full with temperament” (Darmstadter Echo), “gifted with impeccable technique and remarkable ability to excite” (Il Cittadino). The legendary pianist Aldo Ciccolini defined him as “an artist gifted with extraordinary musical and instrumental skills”.
Ivan Donchev was born in Burgas (Bulgaria) on 11 August 1981. He began his musical training at the age of five and went on to attend the “Pancho Vladigerov” National Music School as a student of Julia Nenova. Three years later he gave his first public recital and won the Silver medal at the Stresa International Piano Competition. In 1993 – at the age of twelve – he made his concerto debut with Burgas Philharmonic Orchestra performing Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D. Two weeks later he won the First prize with the Special Distinction at the “Svetoslav Obretenov” National Competiton. In 1996 he was a finalist at the “EMCY Piano Competition” in Dublin. In 1997 he has been awarded the “Saint Nicholas” scholarship by the city of Burgas.
Ivan Donchev first came to the attention of the international public at the age of 16, after winning three prizes at the 2nd “Carl Filtsch International Piano Competition” in Romania, including the Grand Prize “Chopin” offered by the Chopin Society in Darmstadt and a Special Distinction for his own composition. The same year he won the 1st prize at the 2nd Piano Competition for German and Austrian Music in Burgas and made his debut at the Gasteig concert hall in Munich.
Since then Ivan Donchev has played concerts in leading concert halls throughout Europe, Asia and America. His list of credits include recitals in New York’s Merkin Hall, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Seoul’s Geumnarae Art Hall, Vienna’s Boesendorfer Saall, London’s Holst Hall, Milan’s Sala Verdi, Rome’s Teatro Palladium and Filarmonica Romana, Sofia’s Bulgaria Concert Hall. He regularly performs at prestigious Festivals, such us Montpellier Festival de Radio France, Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi, Krakow Royal Piano Festival, La folle journée, Apollonia Music Festival, Seiler Piano Festival.
Ivan has performed with New York Festival Orchestra, Rossini Symphony Orhcestra, Zagreb Soloists, Roma Tre Symphony Orchestra, Kronstadt Philharmoniker, Filarmonica Marchigiana, Bari Symphony Orchestra, Magna Grecia Symphony Orchestra, Florence Chamber Orchestra, Burgas Philharmonic, Pleven Philharmonic, Oradea Philharmonic, Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra, Bryansk Symphony Orhcestra, Jeonju Symphony Orchestra, Yucatàn Symphony Orchestra, Mussorgsky Youth Symphony Orchestra, Nis Symphony Orchestra and many others.
He plays with many well known conductors such as Nayden Todorov, Geum No-sang, Daniel Schweizer, Anton Shaburov, Hideaki Hirai, Amaury Du Closel, Michel Brousseau, Juan Carlos Lomonaco, Ivan Kozhuharov, David Crescenzi, Yordan Dafov, Stefano Trasimeni, Piero Romano, Grigor Palikarov, Giuseppe Lanzetta, Ilku Lee, Luigi Di Fronzo, Sunay Muratov, Svilen Simeonov and many others.
In Italy, where he is based since 2000, Donchev has distinguished himself as a top prize winner of several international competitions: “Città di Monopoli – Gran Prize Ecomusic” 2000; “Premio Seiler“, 2001; “Sergio Fiorentino Piano Competition”, 2004 , “Giuseppe Terracciano International Piano Competition“, 2005 and “Società Umanitaria Music Competition” in Milan – 2008.
He has received the “Sorrento Classica” prize from the hands of his mentor Aldo Ciccolini and in 2011 they have performed a memorable piano duo concert at the Fenetrange Music Festival in France.
Very active in chamber music, he has obtained his master degree at “Santa Cecilia” Conservatory of Music in Rome and holds BM degrees both in classical and jazz piano.
Donchev has recorded the world premiere of Vito Palumbo’s Quadro Sinfonico Concertante (dedicated to him by the author) and all Tchaykovsky’s piano concertos. In 2011 he has released the complete recording of Liszt’s “Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses” for Sheva Collection. The recording of Beethoven’s piano & violin sonatas with Ivo Stankov for Gega new was 5 stars awarded by the British magazine “Musical Opinion”. In 2017 he releases his fourth album“Live in Montpellier.” In 2018 he signed with MUSO to release in exclusivity the first complete recording (4 stars by BBC Music Magazine) of Bacewicz violin and piano sonatas with French violinist Annabelle Berthomé-Reynolds, in collaboration with the Penderecki European Music Centre in Poland.
His records include broadcasts for RAI 3, Radio France, Radio Classica, BG National Radio and TV.
Currently Donchev is working on the complete set of 32 Beethoven sonatas to be performed and recorded in Italy.
Ivan has also recorded the complete cycle Années de pèlerinage by Liszt on a historic 1879 Erard piano for Diapason Records.
Ivan acts as a jury member in international piano competitions such as “Victor Merzhanov Piano Competition” in Bulgaria, “Andrea Baldi Competition” in Italy and many others.
Ivan Donchev serves as Professor of Piano at “Stanislao Giacomantonio” State Conservatory in Cosenza (Italy).
He is regularly invited to give masterclasses worldwide – at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, the Brooklyn College in New York, Witgift School in London, Pancho Vladigerov National School in Burgas. He holds annual courses for advanced young pianists at the Clivis Music Academy in Rome and many of his students have received awards in piano competitions.
Ivan currently lives nearby Rome with his family. He is passionate about literature, cinema and martial arts. He has achieved the black belt (1st dan) in Karate.
Since 2019 he is an Artistic director of the Festival “Burgas Music Evenings”.