Ivari Ilja is one of the most exceptional and memorable talents among Estonian pianists. Besides being a brilliant soloist, he is highly appreciated as an ensemble partner and a teacher.
Ilja graduated from Tallinn Music High School in 1977 in the piano class of Eve Paju and Laine Mets. In 1977-1981, he continued his studies at Tallinn State Conservatory with Laine Mets. In 1984, he graduated from MoscowConservatory in the class of Vera Gornostayeva and in 1986, as apost-graduate student of Sergey Dorensky.
Ivari Ilja has held recitals in Estonia, Russia, Sweden, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Germany and performed as a soloist with several symphony orchestras such as Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra under Jüri Alperten, Veronika Dudarova, Stephen Gunzenhauser,Eri Klas, Leo Krämer, Theodore Kuchar, Peeter Lilje, Roman Matsov, Andres Mustonen, Hannu Norjanen, Vello Pähn, Urs Schneider and Arvo Volmer. As a soloist, he has accompanied the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra on several tours to Germany, Sweden, Latvia and Lithuania.
Ivari Ilja is also a recognized ensemble musician. His collaboration with renowned singers Irina Arkhipova, Maria Guleghina, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Elena Zaremba has been particularly successful. Together they have performed on several concert stages of the world, including La Scala in Milan, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow, the great halls of St. Peterburg Philharmonic and Moscow Conservatory, Staatsoper Hamburg, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Suntory Hall of Tokyo, Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall of New York, The Kennedy Center of Washington, Musikverein of Vienna, Mozarteum of Salzburg.
Since 2003, he has repeatedly toured with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the U.S., England and elsewhere. Ilja has also collaborated with numerous Estonian singers, including soprano Margarita Voites, Pille Lill, tenor Juhan Tralla and baritone Taimo Toomast.
His repertoiremostly consists of romantic music, primarily of the works by Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, but also Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sergei Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten (including his pianoconcerto) and others. He has been recorded by the Estonian Radio aswell as the Polish Radio (performing works of Chopin).
In 2001, Ilja won the Estonian National Culture Award and in 2006, the prize of the Estonian Music Council.