Russian violinist (and later, viola player) Grigori Zhislin was born in Leningrad on 14 May 1945 and studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Yuri Yankelevich, winning first prize in Genoa's Premio Paganini in 1967 and fourth prize in the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1976.
He appeared as soloist with the St Petersburg Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Russian State Symphony Orchestra and a series of orchestras in other countries, with a repertoire including more than a hundred violin and viola concertos.
He gave the first Russian performance of Krzysztof Penderecki's Violin Concerto, and at Penderecki's request, began playing viola, so that he could give the first European performance of that composer's Viola Concerto. Zhislin also worked closely with other composers, including Alfred Schnittke, Edison Denisov and Sofia Gubaidulina.
Zhislin was professor of violin and viola at the Royal College of Music in London (living in the UK since 1990), he was a professor at the Hochschule für Musik Würzburg in Germany, and also taught in Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain and the USA. His students included Daniel Hope, Nicolas Koeckert and Dmitri Sitkovetsky.
He died in Berlin on 2 May 2017, aged seventy-one, following a long illness.