Gregory Haimovsky
Title Details

280 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

14 b/w. Illustrations

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

Gregory Haimovsky

A Pianist's Odyssey to Freedom

by Marissa Silverman

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
In the bleak cage of the Soviet Union, a brilliant pianist, inspired by the music of Olivier Messiaen, survived and triumphed. This is his story, told partly in his own words.
Interlacing material from previously unknown Russian archives, original recordings, photographs, and essays, Gregory Haimovsky: A Pianist's Odyssey to Freedom is the story of an extraordinary Russian concert pianist who, fighting the cultural prohibitions of the USSR, eventually succeeded in performing and recording major works by the prominent French composer Olivier Messiaen.

At the lowest point of his life, expelled from Moscow and exiled to a small provincial city, Haimovsky discovered Messiaen's oeuvre uncatalogued and hidden in the library of the Union of Soviet Composers. Haimovsky's intense studies and Soviet premieres of these banned compositions healed and liberated his mind, spirit, and artistic imagination. Messiaen's music also deepened and fueled Haimovsky's fierce personal and musical opposition to Soviet political and cultural doctrines.

Told partly in Haimovsky's own words and supplemented by interviews with several performers who worked with him between 1960 and 1972 as well as stories from his correspondence with major Russian artists, writers, and musicians of the time, Marissa Silverman's vivid narrative sheds new light on relationships between twentieth-century Russian music, Soviet politics, and the culture wars that raged during and after Stalin's barbaric rule.

Marissa Silverman is Associate Professor of Music at the John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University.
Introduction
A Pianist Is Born
A Concert Pianist in Exile
Spirituality, Love, and Color: Understanding Messiaen's Music
From Thaw to Frost: Neonationalism and the Messiaen Premieres in the USSR
Haimovsky and Grazhdanstvennost'
Appendix 1: Selected Performances of the Music of Olivier Messiaen by Gregory Haimovsky, 1964-72
Appendix 2: Selected Writing by Gregory Haimovsky on the Music of Olivier Messiaen
Notes
Index
"Compelling accounts . . . The courageous and critical role of the Soviet pianist in bringing Messiaen's music to the Russian public . . . takes this biography into interesting and heretofore under-researched territory. Silverman's text provides an important account of the lived experience of a Jewish artist during and after World War II, presenting a direct glimpse at the anti-Semitism rampant during this time. A powerful testament to the salvific power of music, providing an undeniable antidote to 'afflictions of the spirit." THE RUSSIAN REVIEW
"Silverman's writing is scholarly but engaging. Numerous conversations and interviews with [Haimovsky] are amply quoted in the book. Numerous sources are cited and often quoted at length. [I have listened to Haimovsky's recording of the Debussy Preludes] back-to-back with Walter Gieseking's classic recording and prefer Haimovsky's." AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
"Skilfully recounted episodes and anecdotes make this book very readable. Melissa Silverman has successfully performed a labour of love which, it must be hoped, will not only paint a picture of a great man, but also of a whole era in Soviet life, both provincial and metropolitan, through a sensitive and perceptive musician's eyes. It deserves to be widely read." SLAVONIC AND EAST EUROPEAN REVIEW
"Part history of the Soviet Union, part passionate protest against Stalin's campaign against Soviet Jewry, part crusade for the acceptance of modern classical music in the USSR (in this case, Olivier Messiaen), part tribute to the life of work of Haimovsky, who fought for honesty and freedom in cultural life in the USSR and suffered for it." SCRSS DIGEST (SOCIETY FOR CO-OPERATION IN RUSSIAN AND SOVIET STUDIES)
"For a non-musicologist such as myself, this is an accessible book which tells a compelling story. Haimovsky's personal qualities of courage and integrity are convincingly displayed, and the Russian word 'grazhdantsvennost', a blend of the concepts of generosity and citizenship, perhaps best expresses his personality, exemplified by his tireless attempts both to fight a brutal system and to fulfil the artist's mission, to transmit aesthetic and spiritual values through their work. --Douglas Mark Ponton, University of Catania for" JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN STUDIES
"A talented pianist, who was not always prepared to toe the official line." BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE

Hardcover

9781580469319

June 2018

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9781787442856

June 2018

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Title Details

280 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

14 b/w. Illustrations

Imprint: University of Rochester Press