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Sviatoslav Richter
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    (March 20, 1915-August 1, 1997)
    Born in Zhytomyr, Ukraine
    Classical pianist
    Known particularly for his interpretations of the works of Johan Sebastian Bach, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Sergei Prokofiev, and Modest Mussorgsky
    Established the December Nights Festival at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow (1981)
    He briefly tried his hand at composing, but gave it up with the comment, ‘I see no point in adding to all the bad music in the world.’
    He hated giving interviews and almost never discussed his private life.
    When his Carnegie Hall concert was disrupted by anti-Soviet protests (1970), he vowed to never return to America, and kept his promise.
    He was a perfectionist who insisted on adding a disclaimer to a CD of his performance of Bach’s ‘Italian Concerto’ noting that he played an F-sharp instead of an F for one note.
    When he auditioned at the Moscow Conservatory, piano teacher Heinrich Neuhaus declared, ‘This man’s a genius.’
    He was married to opera singer Nina Dorliak for 52 years. (Although there were rumors that he was gay and she was his beard.)
    Although he professed to be ‘indifferent’ about politics, he defied the Soviet authorities by playing at the funeral of Boris Pasternak.
    Sergei Prokofiev dedicated Piano Sonata No. 9 to him.
    Van Cliburn wept during one of his recitals and called his performance ‘the most powerful piano playing I have ever heard.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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