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Sviatoslav Richter:
Notebooks and Conversations
Bruno Monsaingeon
Translated by Stewart Spencer

Paperback | 2002 | $36.95 | ($22.17) | ISBN: 9780691095493
464 pp. | 6 x 9 | 20 halftones
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Reviews | Table of Contents

Sviatoslav Richter was a dazzling performer but an intensely private man. Though world famous and revered by classical music lovers everywhere, he guarded himself and his thoughts as carefully as his talent. Fascinated, author and filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon tried vainly for years to interview the enigmatic pianist. Richter eventually yielded, granting Monsaingeon hours of taped conversation, unlimited access to his diaries and notebooks, and, ultimately, his friendship. This book is the product of that friendship.

Richter reveals himself as a man and an artist. Unsentimentally and with his characteristic dry humor and intelligence, the musician describes his poignant childhood and spectacular career, including his tumultuous early days at the Moscow Conservatory and his triumphant 1960 tour of the United States. His laconic recounting of playing in the orchestra at Stalin's surreal, interminable state funeral is riveting. Most important for music lovers, Richter discusses his influences and views on musical interpretation. He describes his encounters with other great Russian performers and composers, including Prokoviev, Shostakovich, Oistrakh, and Gilels. Candid sections from his personal journals offer his sober and unguarded impressions of dozens of performances and recordings--both his own and those of other musicians.

This volume offers readers the sizable pleasure of lingering in the thoughts and words of one of the most important pianists of the twentieth century. Unlike many other star performers, Richter was also an intellectual who had interesting things to say, particularly about the musician's proper role as interpreter of the composer's art. This alone makes the book worth reading. Sviatoslav Richter belongs on the shelves of everyone with a classical music collection and will also appeal to lovers of autobiography and admirers of Russian musical culture.


"This is a fascinating glimpse of the musical world through the eyes of one of its major practitioners."--Library Journal

"Richter himself spends 200 of these pages putting us straight as regards his recordings . . . The table of his repetoire in these Notebooks and Conversations shows he was always a subtle, inquisitive artist, who played for his own developing pleasure, not to feed the public with exactly what it gaped for."--Eric Griffiths, The Evening Standard

"This is as close, in a human and enlightening way, as the likes of thee and me are likely to get to truly towering creative (and interpretive) genius."--Michael Wolff, New York Observer

"In allowing Richter's own words to take precedence over anecdotes or analysis, a clear view of Richter's musical life emerges . . . Richter develops from a mischievous-looking young man to the chiseled, inscrutable icon of his later years."--The Economist

"Music lovers should be grateful, for along with [Richter's] comments on music and musicians, it displays the foibles, opinions, skills, joys, and sorrows of the publicly reticent keyboard titan. Lavishly illustrated with photographs, it should enlighten and delight lovers of the piano and the pianist."--Booklist

"This book is almost impossible to put down . . . Its target is anyone who wishes to sit at the foot of the Richter legend."--Andrew Clark, Financial Times

"Here is one of the great pianists of the 20th century, who was justly welcomed with adulation any time he appeared, who never once, in dozens of recordings, seemed to doubt what he was doing or what the music was saying."--Edward Rothstein, New York Times Book Review

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Table of Contents:

Introduction ix
Ritcher in his own words
Prolegomenon 3
1. Childhood 7
2. Odessa in the Thirties 16
3. Heinrich Neuhaus 25
4. The War Years 41
5. On Prokofiev 67
6. A Dark Chapter 90
7. Foreign Tours 95
8. Silhouettes 115
9. The Mirror 138
Notebooks: On Music 167
A Don Juan of Music, or Richter in Figures 379
Highlights of Richter's Career 407
Index 414

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Hardcover: For sale only in the United States, its Territories and Dependencies
Paperback: For sale only in the United States, its Territories and Dependencies

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 Paperback $36.95 | ($22.17) ISBN: 9780691095493

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File created: 11/20/2015

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