Ivan Drenikov was born in Sofia. Drenikov’s international career started at the age of eighteen when he received the award of the Italian Ferruccio Busoni International Piano competition for young pianists, then
a series of concerts followed with the RAI Orchestra Roma, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, etc. G. Confalonieri, the most influential music critic in Italy, exlaimed in the Epoca magazine, Milano: “Discovery of the year! …Ivan Drenikov has got the charm of a concert pianist in every detail. Hе is aware of the magic of colours and can always establish contact with the public in a most subtle way…”
Drenikov has played as soloist with number of internationally renowned orchestras acros the world. He has given hundreds of concerts in the most prestigious concert halls of Europe, the USA, Japan, South America, Australia and has performed at reputable concert cycles.
The European musical critics Pierre Petit, Alain Lompech, G. Confalonieri, Aurore Busser, Piero Buscaroli, Pierre Rousseau (“Le monde”, “Le Figaro” – Paris, “Le Figaro” – Normandie, “Nice Matin” – Nice, “Paris Normandie”, “Epoca magazine” – Milano, “Diapason” – Paris, “Abendzeitung” – Munchen, “Berliner Zeitung”, “Baslerzeitung” (Hans Huber Saal), “Oxford Mail”,”Messaggero” – Roma, etc.) and musicians Alexis Weissenberg, Renato Fasano, Tichon Hrennikov, V. Vitale commented rapturously his debuts in Rome, Paris, Moscow, Prague, Warsaw, Bucharest, Oxford, Basel, Berlin, Zurich, Munich, Stockholm, Sidney, Tokyo, etc.
In 1968 Ivan Drenikov became a regular student of the great pianist A. B. Michelangeli doing his courses in Bergamo, Lugano and San Bernardo di Rabbi. During this period Drenikov was a frequent guest at Michelangeli’s house and had the privilege of receiving professional advice from the great pianist through his personal contact with him and of earning his respect.
In a Bulgarian TV film about Ivan Drenikov, released in 1992, the violinist and conductor J. P. Wallez said: “I was introduced to Ivan Drenikov by A. B. Michelangeli who I know very well and who was his teacher. Michelangeli has great admiration for Drenikov. In my opinion Drenikov is a great performer, a great pianist.”
In his article “Contemporary Pianists of the Twentieth Century”, published in 1985 in an issue of the Moscow magazine “Musica” L.Grigoriev wrote: “At first sight this is the typical career of a prodigy… Ivan Drenikov is today rightly considered as one of the most striking pianist of his generation.”
Drenikov has given concerts with great success with orchestras like Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, National Orchestra Santa Cecilia, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, French Radio Orchestra, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra, Bratislava Philharmonic, Bucharest Philharmonic, Prague Radio Orchestra, Leipzig Radio Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonic, Tokyo Royal Philharmonic, etc. When Alexis Weissenberg first listened to Ivan Drenikov in 1976, he exclaimed: “Thanks to his strong individuality, musical intelligence, artistic temperament and technical accomplishment, Drenikov is one of those pianists to whom the future belongs.” In 1985 Pierre Petit wrote about him in “Le Figaro” after his Beethoven, Concert for piano and orchestra No 4 with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris in Salle Gaveau: “Revelation… Great interpretation!”
Drenikov has played in prestigious halls in the following cities: PARIS – Pleyel, Champs Elysees, Gaveau, Chatelet (1st International Festival of Orchestras, Rachmaninov concert No 2), UNESCO (Recital of Beethoven Sonatas on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the composer”s death), Radio France Auditorium, Paris, etc., ROME – Santa Cecilia Hall, Theatro Olimpico, RAI-Roma Auditorium, Basilica San Massenzio, etc., MOSCOW – Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow Conservatoire Halls, ST. PETERBURG – Congresshall, PRAGUE – Smetana Hall, Dvořák Hall, Congresshall, NAPLES – Teatro San Carlo. ZURICH – Tonhalle Saal. BUCHAREST – Atheneum Hall, BOGOTA – Luis San Arango, Theatro Colon, MUNICH – Hercules Saal, etc.
For 15 years (1977–1992) Drenikov had a permanent contract as First Concert Soloist of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra. As such he toured the USA, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, England, Germany, Latvia, etc.
Drenikov has performed with the following conductors: János Ferencsik, Carlo Zecchi, E. Svetlanov, Jerzy Semkow, James de Preist, György Lehel , J. P. Wallez, Emil Tchakarov, Herbert Kegel, Henrich Cizj, G. Aimone-Marsan, Bruno Campanella, Gilbert Amy, Pierre Dervaux, J.Cl.Bernede, G. Devos, J. Houtmann, Otmar Maga, Daniel Nazareth, A. la Rosa Parodi, Shunsaku Tsutsumi, Shungo Moriama, Denis Burg, Emil Simon, Eraldo Salmieri, Alessandro Pagliazzi, Iosif Conta, Arnold Katz, Dobrin Petkov, V.Stefanov, V.Kazandjiev, K.Iliev, Emil Tabakov, Iordan Dafov, D.Manolov, Al. Vladigerov, etc.
Ivan Drenikov’s recordings have been published by: Balkanton, Harmonia Mundi, Forlane, Fidelio, Verany, etc.
Chamber music: Drenikov performed concerts with Boris Chistoff, Valery Popova, Ghena Dimitrova, Dina Schneidermann, Jean Pierre Wallez, Philip Bride, Bernede String quartet, Quartet Dimov.
Member of Juries in: Oklahoma,USA; Cagliari, Italy; Takamatzu, Japan.
Masters classes: Japan – Schowa Music Academy; Colombia – Bogota University of Music; San Marino – Minister of Culture.
UNESCO, Paris – Recital of Beethoven Sonatas on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death.
CHAMPS ELYSEES, Paris – A concert marking the 10th anniversary of the death of the famous pianist Robert Casadesus. Drenikov performed two concerts by Rachmaninov (No 2 and No 4 together) with Pasdeloup Symphony Orchestra in the presence of Gaby Casadesus, in memory of her late husband .
OIRT, Pilsen – A concert with Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Live broadcast in 12 countries.
OIRT, Sofia – A concert with the Radio Symphony Orchestra, Live broadcast in 12 countries.
BORIS CHRISTOFF, Rome, Santa Cecilia – A chamber concert with the participation of Drenikov, dedicated to the singer’s thirty years on stage jubilee.
GAVEAU HALL, Paris – two concerts: Alberto B. Tedeschi’s concerto for piano and orchestra, dedicated to Ivan Drenikov, and Clementi’s concerto in C.
THE BULGARIA CONCERT HALL. Sofia – a concert on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra.
ATHENS – a concert with the Elado Symphony Orchestra, broadcast live in Greece, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia.
Ivan Drenikov has toured the USA and Mexico with 15 concerts (recitals and accompanied by the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra) .
He received the “Golden Sagittarius” International Award of the city Rome and UNICEF for great achievements in art in 1980.
The jury, chaired by the Chairman of the Santa Cecilia Academy, among whom were Gian Carlo Menotti, Gina Cigna, Giulietta Simonato, Sergio Perticaroli, etc., voted unanimously for giving the award to Drenikov with the formulation “for exceptionally great contribution to the art of music performance”. The same year the award was also given to the great conductor Franco Ferrara.
At present Drenikov is a professor in piano at the National Academy of Music “Pancho Vladigerov” in Sofia, Bulgaria.