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Sviatoslav Richter
Karl Aage Rasmussen

2010 • 316 pp. 44 B&W illus. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
Music / Classical

$40.00 Hardcover, 978-1-55553-710-4

Rasmussen’s book is satisfyingly rich in illuminating details. And being a composer, he brings welcome musical expertise.”Bloomington Herald Times

The first biography of the noted Soviet pianist Sviatoslav Richter

Sviatoslav Richter (1915–1997) is widely recognized as one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. In this translation of the first full-scale biography of Richter, Danish composer Karl Aage Rasmussen combines his artistic appreciation of Richter’s career with a sympathetic telling of the pianist’s life based on family archives and interviews with people who worked and lived with him. Richter enjoyed early success in the Soviet Union, winning the Stalin Prize in 1949. He traveled and performed throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, and earned notice in the West via his recordings. In 1960 he toured in the West to great acclaim, including a run of successful performances at Carnegie Hall. He would remain an active performer throughout his life.

Richter was an intensely private and withdrawn individual who disliked the glare and trappings of celebrity, even preferring to play small halls where the audience could concentrate on the details of his performance. The book also details his chronic depression and homosexuality, and the impact that this may have had in curbing his political activities. Rasmussen celebrates one of the giants of twentieth-century music while painting a realistic portrait of the often troubled double life that many Soviet citizens, especially public artists, were forced to lead.

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Reviews / Endorsements:

“The book demystifies one of the most mysterious figures of modern music-makers, right down to his practice methods.”—The Well-Tempered Ear

“In this first-ever biography of Richter, Rasmussen paints a portrait not only of the famous Soviet pianist, but also of Russian, European, and American cultural life over the course of the 20th century . . . . The book is written in a readable, conversational tone that makes it accessible to a wide range of readers. . . . Recommended.”—Choice

“This first biography of the legendary Russian musician (1915-1997) reveals the man behind the enigma. Many of Richter’s colleagues are quoted and many of his less ingratiating quirks laid bare. Rasmussen dispels the myths without debunking Richter’s greatness.”—Financial Times

“Destiny provided Sviatoslav Richter with a rare combination of physical and spiritual gifts to make him perhaps the most outstanding pianist of all time. His ability to identify with diametrically opposed musical idioms from Bach’s to Rachmaninoff’s and from Debussy’s to Hindemith’s and his never fading and unstoppable readiness to question and examine himself in relation to the music he played made him a performer whose range of repertoire was legendary and whose interpretations were mesmerizing and unforgettable. The volume of research Mr. Rasmussen compiled combined with his great attention to detail makes this biography the most compelling study of the life of one of the greatest artists of our time.”—Vladimir Ashkenazy

KARL AAGE RASMUSSEN is a Danish composer and writer. He recently retired as professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus.

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 10:23:43 -0500