Mikhail Pletnev is a Russian concert pianist, conductor, composer and founder of the Russian National Orchestra. Pletnev's rise to international fame occurred when he won the gold medal at the prestigious Moscow-based International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in 1978. Since then, Pletnev has become a force of nature in the world of classical music, joining the pantheon of great Russian pianists which includes Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arthur Rubinstein and Vladimir Horowitz. Although Pletnev's repertoire is extensive, one sees a preference for Russian piano music, particularly that of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. His transcriptions of Tchaikovsky's ballet music for piano are generally considered to be the best piano transcriptions of works by Tchaikovsky ever written. Moreover, Pletnev's performances and recordings as a conductor of orchestral works by Russian composers are held in high esteem by classical music connoisseurs and music critics everywhere.