Andrei Gavrilov, according to critics, is among the world’s greatest concert pianists. His father was an eminent painter but it was his pianist mother who not only encouraged and taught him to play the piano but, more importantly, taught him to throw himself emotionally into his performances; something that has distinguished him from his counterparts.
In 1974, he won first prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition and in the same year made a triumphant international dèbut at the Salzburg Festival. Since then he has enjoyed an impressive international career which included performances with the world’s greatest orchestras. After 1979, Gavrilov had to struggle with years of persecution at the hands of the Soviet KGB which included at least four known murder attempts. Fortunately for his fans he made his way to the west in 1984 calling both England and Germany home before he moved to Switzerland in 2001.
Gavrilov’s book captures the most meaningful episodes of his life. In it he shares his philosophical views on the major problems of the modern world that include but are not limited to totalitarianism, fundamentalism and the decay of our modern culture. It is a piercing view of the man behind the music. An added bonus are the anecdotes about other famous Russian and international celebrities, such as Malkovich, McCartney, Richter, Rostropovich and many others.
The book also contains QR links to the Chopin Nocturnes performed by the author.
A few excerpts from the book:
“The Russian musical tradition? There is no such thing. Our performing tradition is a collection of styles and methods borrowed from other European cultures.
It could even be said that the main feature of the Russian musical tradition, just as the main feature of our national character, is a certain amorphous quality, a pliability and formlessness, even insubstantiality. Something eternally feminine. While people from the West, and Western classical music, are clear-cut, orderly, almost tangible… the Russian consciousness lacks a precise form, so can easily be used to fill someone else’s bronze mould, like a gas or liquid. This lightness is deceptive, but for an artist and performer it is a trap. Pouring yourself into someone else’s contour does not fill you with new content!”
“I always used to be offended by Rachmaninoff. In an interview in the 1930s an American journalist asked him if he missed Russia. He replied, “Russia no longer exists.” Until very recently I thought that Rachmaninoff was wrong. It is only these most recent concerts in Moscow in 2010 that have made me realise that he was right. ”
“The policeman’s face distorted with malice. He spoke, spitting and working himself up with his own righteous rage.
“You’re Gavrilov, you whore bitch, traitor, I’ll f***ing shoot you!”
For the first time in my life I saw the business end of a gun pointed straight at me. The bastard was aiming at my face. There was a glow of triumph on his base, ugly mug, and his whole lopsided form in his vile overcoat tensed and… He did not manage to pull the trigger. With my whole strength I swiped a karate chop at his hand holding the gun. A shot rang out, sounding like an iron giant coughing up phlegm. Something burned my ear…”
Link to the book on Amazon: