Lazar Berman – The last titan of the russian piano school


Lazar Berman was one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, but for a long time he was overshadowed by the Soviet regime. It was not until the 1970s that he was able to show his extraordinary art to the West, which recognized him as one of the last representatives of the legendary Russian piano school.

Lazar Berman was born in Leningrad on February 26, 1930. His mother was a pianist. He began playing the piano at the age of two and soon showed exceptional talent. At the age of four he was admitted to the Central Music School for the Particularly Gifted, where he studied with Samari Savshinsky. At the age of seven he gave his first public concert.

Berman continued his education at the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied with Alexander Goldenweiser. He won several prizes at international competitions, including third prize at the International Franz Liszt Competition in Budapest in 1956, and developed a virtuosic and powerful piano style characterized by his wide range, precise touch, and rich tonal spectrum. He mastered a broad repertoire, ranging from Bach to contemporary composers, with a particular interest in the works of Liszt, Schumann, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev.

However, Berman was not only a brilliant technician, but also a profound interpreter who explored the musical structure and emotional content of each work. He had a strong personality and an independent artistic expression that did not conform to fashions or trends. He was also a passionate teacher who taught many students at various institutions, such as the Accademia Pianistica in Imola, Italy.

Despite his outstanding abilities, Berman suffered from the political restrictions of the Soviet system, which hindered his international career. He was rarely allowed to travel abroad and was often harassed or ignored by the authorities. He had to put up with poor instruments and inadequate reception conditions.

That didn’t change until the 1970s, when Berman finally received permission to perform abroad regularly. He performed in Europe and Japan and was hailed as one of the greatest living pianists. He recorded several albums for various labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, Philips and Melodiya. His recordings are a testament to his extraordinary artistry and musical sensitivity.

Berman died of a heart attack in Florence on January 6, 2005, at the age of 74. He left behind a rich musical legacy that is cherished by many admirers. He is considered one of the last titans of the Russian piano school, which produced such masters as Horowitz, Richter and Gilels. His interpretations are a testimony to his incomparable virtuosity and deep artistic spirit.

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