Irina Nikitina

"Music is the only language that allows us to understand each other without words, open and emotional, where falsehood is unacceptable. And this is so necessary for everyone in today's world".

Irina Nikitina's credo is her aspiration to reveal true and sincere performing skills honed with the utmost professionalism. She plays an important role in the development of exceptional international music projects hosted worldwide and in supporting young, international prize-winning musicians without any borders.

Mrs. Nikitina is the daughter of the renowned Russian cellist Anatolij Nikitin. She began her career as a professional pianist graduating from the St. Petersburg State Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire in 1983 and completing her post-graduate studies at the same conservatoire there until 1987. She continued her studies and practice in Prague (learning the harpsichord) and then in Bern. Her unique and talented musicianship has brought her victories at renowned international music competitions, such as in Geneva (1986), Paris (Grand Prix, 1987), Osaka (1992).

From 1983 to 1995 Mrs. Nikitina actively performed in concerts in Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Great Britain, Japan, the USA and Korea, simultaneously teaching at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, giving master-classes in Baltimore, Florida, Seoul and Tokyo, appearing on television and radio (DRS, NHK, RIAS Berlin, WDR, Bayerischen Rundfunk, and more). Between 1987 and 1994 Irina Nikitina was actively involved in performing at the Davos International Music Festival.

Her personal discography includes 13 albums, both solo and as a member of chamber music ensembles, recorded on CDs by leading music labels: Melody, Denon, Sony, Toshiba/EMI, King and others. In 1995, Toshiba/EMI released an album of all the piano works by Kosaka Yamada performed by her. She accompanied several great musicians, such as the cellist Daniil Schaffran and the Swiss Tenor Ernst Haefliger with whom they have recorded and released the album: “Ernst Haefliger singt Japanische Lieder” and extensively toured together in Japan, Switzerland and Germany.

Since 1991 Irina Nikitina has been producing and co-producing major international music projects in Switzerland, Russia, France and Japan. Among them a series of concerts of the International Davos Music Festival in St. Petersburg, the Swiss Music Week Festival at the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, the Maestro and His Pupils Festival (with Zakhar Born), the Sofia Gubaidulina & Friends Festival, the Contemporary Music Festival in St. Petersburg and others. Ms Nikitina also participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos for several years, giving a concert there in 1989.

In 1995 Irina Nikitina established and headed the Musical Olympus Foundation. This is a unique organisation aimed at supporting young talented musicians from all over the world. Since more than 25 years the Foundation has supported more than 500 artists, who have participated in the Musical Olympus festival and other concerts. Musical Olympus has set an important mile stone in building a serious musical career for these musicians. Some of todays internationally acclaimed musicians, who started their career at the MOF are: Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Sol Gabetta, Nikolaj Znaider, Tugan Sokhiev, Kian Soltani, Lorenzo Viotti, Darrel Ang and many more.

In June 1996 the Foundation organised the first international Musical Olympus festival in St Petersburg with a unique concept: to present the public with a young international parade of winners of renowned music competitions. In 1997 the festival received the patronage of the World Federation of International Music Competitions (Geneva, Switzerland). In addition to the annual festival in St. Petersburg, the Musical Olympus Foundation holds regular presentation concerts in New York (Carnegie Hall), Berlin (Berliner Philharmoniker), Zurich (Tonhalle) and also in Baku (Azerbaijan), Rennes (France), Singapore (in the Esplanade). The Musical Olympus Foundation and its artists have formed part of important music festivals, such as the September Musical Festival (Switzerland), the Singapore International Festival of Music and the Musical Olympus Festival in China (with the Sichuan Symphony Orchestra and Darrel Ang) among others. Important cultural personalities such as Mariss Jansons, Montserrat Caballé, Paloma O´Shea, Daniel Barenboim, Dmitrij Chworostowsky, Sir Andras Schiff had formed part of the committee of patronage of this unique festival.

Since 20 years the Musical Olympus Festival also partners with the Friends Musical Olympus Society Switzerland, which has been established by distinguished Swiss Friends, who wanted to continue the support of these artists in Switzerland. The Swiss Association of Friends Musical Olympus has since then presented multiple artists in Switzerlands leading concert halls and contributed to an additional growth of the young artists career.

Irina Nikitina´s active interest in supporting young musicians is also visible through her membership of the Board of Trustees of the Geza Anda International Piano Competition (Switzerland) since 2002 and up until today.

Since 2015 Irina has chaired the Board of Trustees of the Nutcracker International Television Competition for Young Musicians. The Musical Olympus Foundation has been actively involved in the organisation and running of the Nutcracker international television competition for young musicians on the TV Rossiya-Kultura channel; thanks to the efforts of the Foundation, this unique television project is gaining increasing prestige and fame in Russia and abroad. Winners of the competition have included famous musicians such as Daniil Trifonov, Daniil Kharitonov and Daniel Lozakovich. In 2019 Mrs. Nikitina became Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the St. Petersburg State Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire.

An additional mission of the MO Foundation was to produce high-class concerts of famous western,international artists in Russia and present them to the russian audience for the first time. Since 2000, the Musical Olympus Foundation has produced concert programmes that have brought Roberto Alagna, Bobby McFerrin, Yo-Yo Ma, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Rolando Villazon, Diana Krall, Buika, András Schiff, Alfred Brendel, Maurizio Pollinni and many others to St.Petersburg and Moscow. There has also been a tour by the NHK orchestras of Japan under Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre National de France under Kurt Masur, the tour of the Vienna Philharmonic under Daniel Barenboim in 2007, and a 2009 appearance by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, also under the baton of Daniel Barenboim, the orchestra's founder. One of the highlights was the organisation of the series of concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with Christian Thielemann performing all of L. Beethovens symphonies. This tour was named the “Event of the Year 2013” in Russia.

The Musical Olympus Foundation has always paid particular attention to educational and charitable activities: it organises master classes by guest artists, for students and concerts in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and places of detention as part of Musical Olympus' social projects.

Since 2016 Mrs. Nikitina has been the author and presenter of the Enigma programme on the TV Rossiya-Kultura channel, where she introduces viewers to the brightest representatives of the world of music - both renowned international stars and extraordinary and talented young performers. Guests of the programme have included Bruno Monsangeon, Daniel Barenboim, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Herbert Blomsted, Andris Nelsons,Elina Garancha, Sir Andras Schiff, Christian Thielemann, Mariss Jansons, Matthias Goerne, Giya Kancheli, Markus Hinterhaueser, Rene Pape, Christa Ludwig, Daniel Hope, Placido Domingo, Daniil Trifonov, Dmitry Cherniakov, Teodor Currentzis, Riccardo Muti, Patricia Kopatchinskaia, Riccardo Chaily, Clive Gillinson, Bobby McFerrin, Andrea Bocelli, Lang Lang, Leif Ove Andsnes, Rolando Villason, Paavo Jarvi. ...over 140 outstanding personalities in total have already been presented.

Involvement in international organisations:

  • Member of the Board of Trustees of the International Geza Anda Piano Competition (Switzerland, since 2002).
  • President of the Friends Musical Olympus Foundation (Zurich, Switzerland)
  • Member of the Board of Trustees of the German-Russian Young Leaders Conference Die Neue Generation (since 2011) (Germany-Russia).
  • Member of the Board of Trustees of the charitable "Boris Eifman Ballet Support Foundation" (since 2014).
  • Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nutcracker International Television Competition for Young Musicians (since 2015).


Irina Nikitina is a laureate of Russia's National Award for Public Recognition of Women's Achievements "Olympia" in 2001. "For her great merits in the popularization of music in Russia and support of young Russian talents.”

Irina Nikitina's biography was included in the book "Famous Women of Russia" (2004).

In 2013, the Musical Olympus Foundation, represented by Irina Nikitina, received the Silver Archer Prize (Russia-USA) at the National Press Center in Washington, DC "for establishing intercultural dialogue through music and strengthening the culture of partnership worldwide.”

She has twice received the title "Person of the Year" in Russia:

  • 2013 as music producer, for organising a unique tour in Moscow of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Christian Thielemann
  • in 2018 for his television project Enigma on the TV Rossiya-Kultura channel