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Valery Afanassiev (Piano)

Born: September 8, 1947 - Moscow, Russia

The extraordinary Russian pianist, Valery Afanassiev, studied the piano at the Moscow Conservatory with Emil Gilels and Yakov Zak. In 1968 (or 1969) he was prize-winner at the Bach Competition in Leipzig. In 1972 he was awarded the 1st prize at the Concours Reine Elisabeth (Queen Elizabeth) in Brussels, Belgium.

Following his winning, Valery Afanassiev's international career took off. While touring Belgium, he made the difficult decision to seek political asylum, eventually becoming a Belgian citizen. In 1974, the artist moved his place of residence to Versailles / France. Since that time, he has given concerts in all European countries as well as in the USA and Japan. His chief repertoire is primarily based around the Romantics. His interpretations of works of Franz Schubert, L.v. Beethoven and others are regarded as unusual and unconventional due to his striving for utmost expressiveness. His recordings contain music by J.S. Bach, L.v. Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Mussorgsky, Frédéric Chopin, and others. He also performs in chamber music groups and has played with the violinist Gidon Kremer, the cellist Mischa Maisky and the oboist Alexei Ogrintchouk. For some years, he has also been active as a conductor. He tries to recapture the sound and polyphony of models he admires, such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Willem Mengelberg, Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter, and Hans Knappertsbusch.

On principle, Valery Afanassiev takes in upon himself to write the accompanying texts to his recordings. His aim is to give the listeners a comprehensive image of their insights into the composerīs thoughts - a guided tour through his alchemistic laboratory where poetry, philosophy, painting, the cabbala and good wine serve as a reference just like the musical manuscript. He has a second career as a writer Under a pen name, Valery Afanassiev has written nine novels, seven of them in English, two in French. Four novels were published in France, one in Germany, two in Russia. Furthermore, he wrote five cycles of poems, one volume of narrations, a collection of short stories as well as two plays, inspired by Modest Mussorgsky's piano cycle the Pictures at an Exhibition and Robert Schumann's Kreisleriana. In both plays, he performs as a pianist and actor (in four languages).

Valery Afanassiev is among the most unconventional contemporary artists. He is a man of extraordinary education and culture, which can also be seen in the fact that he is widely regarded as a formidable expert on great wines, as well as being a dedicated collector and connoisseur of antiques. In Versailles, the pianist, poet and philosopher lives on his own. Here he works, writes his books and keeps more than 3000 bottles of wine in his cellar. He half-jokingly refers to himself as a renaissance man.

Source: All Music Guide Website (Author: "Blue Gene" Tyranny); Wikipedia Website; Ohems Classics Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (December 2006)

Valery Afanassiev: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Valery Afanassiev - Biography (AMG)
Valery Afanassiev (Wikipedia)

Valery Afassaniev (Ohems Classics)

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