Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Elena Kats-Chernin AO came to Australia in 1975 and studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music till 1980. She graduated as a pianist and composer, playing her own Piano Concerto with the Conservatorium orchestra conducted by Dr Ron Smart.
After many years studying and working in Germany, she returned to Sydney in 1994. Since then, she has created works in nearly every genre, from orchestral compositions to chamber and choral, among them pieces for Ensemble Modern, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, all major Australian symphony orchestras, as well as several operas for Komische Oper, Opera Australia and Philharmonie Luxembourg, among others.
Her music featured at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the 2003 Rugby World Cup. She has received several awards, among them the Sounds Australian Award in 1996 for Cadences, Deviations and Scarlatti as well as Green Room and Helpmann Awards in 2004 for her score to Meryl Tankard's Wild Swans (Australian Ballet). She has also been awarded the Sidney Myer Award.
Her Russian Rag was used as Max's theme in the 2009 claymation Mary and Max, by Oscar-winning director Adam Elliot. It has also been the theme for Late Night Live on ABC Radio National for many years.
Her most recent premiere was as a pianist/composer in Kairos, a dance piece choreographed by Meryl Tankard for the FORM Dance, as part of Sydney Festival 2023.
Elena’s music is published by Boosey & Hawkes.