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. I. Ilja graduated from the Tallinn Music High School at the piano class of Eve Paju and Laine Mets in 1977. In 1977–1981, he continued his studies at the Tallinn State Conservatory with Laine Mets. In 1984, he graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in the class of Vera Gornostayeva and in 1986, as a post-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 in 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 round the world, including La Scala in Milan, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, the Great Theatre of Moscow, the great halls of St. Peterburg Philharmonic and Moscow Conservatory, also at State Opera House in Hamburg, German Opera House in Berlin, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie, Avery Fisher Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C., Musikverein in Vienna and Mozarteum in Salzburg. Since 2003, he has repeatedly toured with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the U.S., England and elsewhere. I. Ilja has also collaborated with numerous Estonian singers, including soprano Margarita Voites, Pille Lill, tenor Juhan Tralla and baritone Taimo Toomast.
His repertoire mostly consists of Romantic music, primarily of the works by F. Chopin, J. Brahms, R. Schumann, also ones by W. A. Mozart, S. Prokofiev, B. Britten (including his Piano Concerto) and others. He has been recorded by the Estonian National Radio as well by the Polish National Radio (while playing the works by F. Chopin). In 2001, I. Ilja won the Estonian National Culture Award and in 2006 – the Prize of The Estonian Music Council.