Elitsa Desseva

Elitsa Desseva

Pianist & Collaborative Artist

“When I play, you are the co-autor. You listen to the music, but in fact you are hearing your own voice, feelings and experiences. You are the protagonist and I am the mediator between the dream world and reality.“


Recognised for the intensity and originality of her interpretations, Elitsa Desseva ranks among the most promising and sought after artists of her generation.


The Bulgarian pianist attracted international attention after winning three of the world's most renowned Lied competitions in just two years. Since receiving 1st Prize with baritone Mikhail Timoshenko in the Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera Song Competition in London, the International Art Song Competition Stuttgart and the Franz Schubert and Modern Music International Competition in Graz, she has been in demand throughout Europa. Further awards include 1st Prize in the Groningen International Lied-Duo Competition with mezzo-soprano Polina Artsis as well as 2nd Prize and Audience Prize in the International Schubert Competition Dortmund and 3rd Prize and Audience Prize in the Lyon International Chamber Music Competition for the duo Timoshenko-Desseva. As a soloist in Bulgaria and abroad, Elitsa received several awards including the Bela Bartok Prize in the 19th Ile-de-France International Piano Competition in Paris and 1st Prize in the 6th Liszt-Bartok Piano Competition in Sofia.


Elitsa’s passion for storytelling, concert conception and shaping Lied recitals that break the stiff barrier between audience and performers has led her to create many successful concert programs. For IHWA Stuttgart she made a concert program depicting the backstage life of classical musicians called “Über die neun Stationen der Kreativität” and at Wigmore Hall she presented “Don Quichotte - Despite and Still”, this time concentrating on themes like society and lunacy. She has been broadcasted on Radio France, Dutch Radio 4, NDR, Südtirol Radio, SWR, Bulgarian National Radio and during the pandemic, together with Mikhail Timoshenko, started the “Voice & Keys” youtube channel where the duo uploads creative and humorous music content. 


Recent highlights include recitals at major venues and festivals such as Musikverein Wien, Konzerthaus Berlin, Wigmore Hall, Concertgebouw, Musée dOrsay, Pierre Boulez Saal, Liszt Ferenc Hall Budapest, Brucknerhaus Linz, Festival Heidelberger Frühling, Hitzacker Music Festival, Grachten Festival Amsterdam, Festival Young Artists Bayreuth, and more. 2020 Elitsa was selected by the prestigious Orsay-Royaumont Academy for one year residency that culminated in a live album recording released by B Records and a concert tour in France. 2021 she was invited by Thomas Hampson to participate in the Lied Academy of the Heidelberger Frühling and 2022 she takes on the position of an academy pianist and coach there, becoming the first female accompanist in the history of the Heidelberg Lied Academy.


Born in Sofia (Bulgaria), Elitsa finished her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in piano performance and chamber music with Balazs Szokolay and Thomas Steinhöfel at the University of Music Franz Liszt in Weimar and Master’s in song accompaniment under the tutelage of Charles Spencer and Markus Hadulla at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts. She is an Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now artist and has received grants from Foundation Yordan Kamdzhalov, DAAD, Deutschland Stipendium, Anny Felbermayer-Fonds.


This season includes appearances at Bösendorfer Salon Vienna, Festival Heidelberger Frühling, Schubert-Week in Pierre Boulez Saal, "Classics after Work" Flensburg, Brucknerhaus Linz, Landesvertretung Schleswig - Holstein Berlin as well as a release of an world premiere album of Irene and Eduard Erdmann’s Lieder.


Elitsa Desseva
“I am constantly turning life into music“
Brigitte Fassbaender, mezzo-soprano opera singer and a stage director

“Eine Bombenbegabung! Sowas habe ich lange nicht gehört!”

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contact: from the verb contingere, con- ‘together with’ + tangere ‘to touch’