Rodion Shchedrin was born in 1932 in Moscow into a musical family: his father was a composer and teacher of music theory. He studied at the Moscow Choral School and graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1955 where he studied composition and piano. His first major works were written in his early twenties. A virtuoso pianist, Shchedrin has often performed his own works, which include five piano concertos, sonatas and a series of 24 preludes and fugues for solo piano. For over a decade he spent a lot of his time and energies as Head of the Russian Federation of the Union of Composers having succeeded its founder, Dmitri Shostakovich, at the older composer’s request. His attraction to Russian folklore and folk music, Russian poetry and literature, is strongly evident in his oeuvre, making him a pre-eminently Russian composer with a voice that nevertheless speaks to all humankind.