Denis Kozhukhin catapulted to international celebrity when he captured first prize at the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Competition in May 2010. Appearances at major concert venues followed, including at Carnegie Hall and the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Invitations for other major debuts flooded in and Kozhukhin toured the globe, impressing critics and dazzling audiences. Kozhukhin is an imposing figure when he walks on-stage: tall and thin, with long blond hair tied in a ponytail, he sits down to play with an all-encompassing technique and sense of total confidence. And that confidence is needed considering the challenging nature of his repertory: he won the Queen Elizabeth by playing the titanically difficult Prokofiev Second Concerto in the final round. He also plays the immensely challenging Brahms Second and works by Liszt, Chopin, Schumann, Mussorgsky, and Rachmaninov. But his repertory also includes more modest fare by J.S. Bach and Haydn, as well as contemporary music by such composers as Ligeti. Kozhukhin also regularly performs chamber music with such artists as cellists Alisa Weilerstein and Jacob Koranyi, horn player Radovan Vlatkovic, and violinist Dora Schwarzberg.
Denis Kozhukhin was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, in 1986. At age four he began piano lessons with his mother and later on studied locally with Natalia Fish at the Balakirev School of Music. At 14 he moved to Madrid and began studies at the Reine Sofia School of Music, where his most important teachers were Dmitri Bashkirov and Claudio Martínez-Mehner. He also took master classes from Alicia de Larrocha, Leon Fleisher, and Rosalyn Tureck. He had further instruction at International Piano Academy Lake Como, Italy, with Peter Frankl, Fou Ts'ong, Boris Berman, and other notables, and even after his Queen Elizabeth victory he was still studying at the Stuttgart-based Staatliche Hochschule für Music with Kirill Gerstein.
Kozhukhin captured third prize at the 2006 Leeds International Piano Competition. While he was already active on the concert scene, this positive result gave him greater currency on the international scene but still largely in minor concert venues.
Kozhukhin won the 2009 Vendome Prize Competition in Lisbon but did not rest long on his now growing laurels, as he soon began preparations for the Queen Elizabeth. The first important concert following that impressive victory was his June 2010 Carnegie Hall recital of works by Mussorgsky, Haydn, Schumann, and Ligeti, which drew strong praise from the New York Times and augured further success.