Alexander Ivashkin began his music education at Gnessins Special School of Music for gifted students at the age of five, playing both piano and cello. It was the legendary Mstislav Rostropovich who suggested he choose a career of a solo cellist. Ivashkin established an international reputation both as an interpreter of the standard repertoire and as a proponent of contemporary music. His highly acclaimed recitals, radio and TV recordings, and appearances with orchestras have included performances in more than 30 countries.
As a soloist he has played with conductors such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Ricardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Alexander Lazarev, Janos Furst, Vladimir Verbitsky, Nicholas Braithwaite, David Stern and Andrey Boreyko. As a chamber musician he has performed with Gidon Kremer, Mikhail Kopelman, Shlomo Mintz, Isabelle van Keulen, Oleh Krysa, Tatyana Grindenko, Dmitri Sitkovetsky, James Buswell, Rainer Moog, Boris Berman, Malcolm Bilson, Dmitri Alexeev, Arturo Pizzaro, Alexei Lubimov, Mikhail Rudy, Victoria Postnikova, Daniel Adni, Piers Lane, Hamish Milne and others.
Alexander Ivashkin has been a regular guest at many important music festivals in Europe, Britain, the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. He appears regularly as a soloist with some of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Russian State SO, Ukranian State SO, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Bolshoi Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, RAI Torino, Australian ABC Orchestras, Slovak Philharmonic, New Zealand SO, Hamburg SO, Sudwestfalische Philharmonie (Germany), Boulder Philharmonic (USA), Winnipeg Symphony (Canada), Cape Philharmonic (South Africa), Geneva Chamber Orchestra ( Switzerland), London Chamber Orchestra, Reno Chamber Orchestra (USA), Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, New Zealand Chamber Orchestra, Kremlin Chamber Orchestra and Studio for New Music (Moscow, Russia), among others.
Since 1995 Ivashkin has been Artistic Director of the Adam International Cello Competition and Festival. He is also artistic director of annual festivals in London. He has taught at schools of music in Russia, the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and currently is Professor and Head of Performance Studies at the University of London.
Alexander Ivashkin is the first performer and dedicatee of many works by great contemporary composers. Along with Mstislav Rostropovich and Natalia Gutman, he is one of the cellists for whom Alfred Schnittke composed. He has actively collaborated with composers such as John Cage, George Crumb, Mauricio Kagel, Krzysztof Penderecki, Peter Sculthorpe, Sofia Gubaidulina, Giya Kancheli, Arvo Pärt, Rodion Shchedrin, Nikolai Korndorf, Alexander Raskatov, Vladimir Tarnopolski, Augusta Reid Thomas, James MacMillan, Lyell Cresswell and Gillian Whitehead. A recording artist for the Chandos, BMG and Naxos labels, Ivashkin has award winning recordings of the complete cello music by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Roslavets, Tcherepnine, Schnittke and Kancheli to his credit.
In October 2004 he presented a world premiere of Brahms' Double Concerto original version for cello and orchestra in Hamburg (followed by performances in Moscow and Auckland) and, along with Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Kurt Mazur and others, took part at the Schnittke Festival in Moscow, performing Schnittke's Triple Concerto. Highlights of Ivashkin’s 2006-07 schedule include performances of two of Gubaidulina's Cello Concertos at the BBC SO Festival in the Barbican Centre in London, and in Holland, the Schumann/Shostakovich Concerto in Utrecht, the Brahms Cello Concerto with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the Wales Proms, a Canadian tour (as a cellist and a conductor) and concerts and festivals in the UK, Australia, Switzerland, Holland, Russia and the US.
Alexander Ivashkin is also well known as a conductor. He conducts orchestras and choruses in Great Britain, Russia, New Zealand, Canada, Armenia, and Turkey. He plays a Giuseppe (Joseph) Guarneri cello of 1710, courtesy of The Bridgewater Trust. He also plays electric cello, viola de gamba, sitar and piano.
Ivashkin has published several books, on Schnittke, Ives, Penderecki, Rostropovich and others, and more than 200 articles in Russia, Germany, Italy, the US, the UK and Japan.