Accordion Virtuosi – Biography

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Pavel Smirnov founded the Accordion Virtuosi of Russia at St. Petersburg in 1943 in war-torn Russia. Within six months they were invited to record on state radio. Three generations of the Smirnov family have led Accordion Virtuosi of Russia: first Pavel, the founder, and now his sons Yuri and Vladimir, and his grandson Yaroslav.

Accordion Virtuosi of Russia has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Verona’s Arena, Olympia Hall in Paris, and the Great Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg.

The group has toured extensively in Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Spain, Japan, Guinea, Angola, Sierra Leone, Congo, China and Canada. They were invited to be a part of the cultural program for the Olympic Games in Munich (1972), Montreal (1976), and Moscow (1980).

Accordion Virtuosi of Russia has won competitions in Russia such as “Musical Carousel” and “Peter-Pavel Assemblies.” Most recently, Accordion Virtuosi of Russia was included in the prestigious “Golden Book of St. Petersburg” for artistic achievements, and was named the “best accordion orchestra of Europe of 2013” by the orchestral society EU Musika in Frankfurt, Germany.

YURI SMIRNOV, Artistic Director and Conductor

Yuri Smirnov is the Accordion Virtuosi of Russia’s Artistic Director and has worked with the orchestra since 1967. He is a professor at the State University of the Arts and head of the “Union of the Arts Workers” in St. Petersburg, Russia. Most recently he received the title of “People’s Artist of the Russian Federation” from the Russian government. This prestigious honor is given to a very small number of artists each year for their outstanding work in the field of the Arts.


Vladimir Smirnov has been the Principal Conductor of the orchestra from 1978. He has taught several generations of the orchestra’s players and received the prestigious title of the “Honored Artist of the Russian Federation” for dedication in his work with the orchestra.


Alexander Yakushev (electric violin) has been a regular soloist with the Accordion Virtuosi of Russia since 1996. Mr. Yakushev has also performed extensively around the world in solo recital, and is a winner of several music competitions. He appears regularly on TV programs in Russia, and is in high demand for his unusual and capturing arrangements of popular tunes for his instrument.


Ilya Yakushev, with many awards and honors, mesmerizes audiences on three continents. In the U.S., his performances of two Prokofiev concerti in the 2007 San Francisco “Prokofiev Festival” with Michael Tilson Thomas were included in the top ten classical music events of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, and prompted a return there in 2009 with Maestro Tilson Thomas.   In addition to many concerto and recital appearances in the U.S., Mr. Yakushev has appeared extensively in his native Russia, Japan, Korea, and Singapore. He is the Executive Director of the International Keyboard Institute and Festival at the Mannes School of Music in New York, where he studied with the legendary pianist Vladimir Feltsman.

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