Born: May 4, 1924 - Bezhitz (in the Bryansk district), Russia
Died: Novvember 22, 1993 - San Francisco, California, USA
The esteemed Russian pianist, pedagogue, and composer, Tatiana (Petrovna) Nikolayeva [Russian: Татьяна Николаева, Tat’jana Nikolaeva], began playing the piano at the age of three. She began her fdormal piano training with Alexander Goldenweiser at Moscow's Central Music School, continuing as his pupil at the Moscow Conservatory, graduating in 1947. She also studied composition there with Evgeny Golubev, graduating in 1950. She retained her close connection with the Moscow Conservatoire all her life. Indeed, her name was inscribed twice on the marble Roll of Honour there, first as a pianist, then as a composer.
After a highly successful series of concerts in Russia, Tatiana Nikolayeva won in 1950 1st prize at the Bachfest Leipzig for her performance of J.S. Bach's clavier works (1950). Subsequently she toured in Eastern Europe She only became widely known in the West late in life. With the fall of Communism. She she found herself in demand internationally making several concert tours to Europe and America, and her name became familiar to many as one of the greatest forces behind the wealth of piano talent to flood from the former Soviet Union during the 20th century. In 1986 she gave several highly acclaimed recitals in London.
Tatiana Nikolayeva was a remarkably gifted virtuoso. She built up a phenomenal volume of repertoire, ranging from Bach to Béla Bartók and beyond. Her interpretation of Bach on record won great critical acclaim. Whilst others used so-called 'original' instruments, Nikolayeva preferred to play Bach on a modern Steinway - always with great success. She made over 50 recordings during her career, notably keyboard works by J.S. Bach, including his Art of Fugue (BWV 1080) and Golberg Variations (BWV 988 - 5 recordings!), and by L.v. Beethoven.
Tatiana Nikolayeva's long working association with Dmitri Shostakovich, and her great understanding of all aspects of his music, made her one of the leading sources of contemporary knowledge about that great composer. It was Nikolayeva for whom D. Shostakovich wrote his 24 Preludes and Fugues, inspired by hearing her Bach-playing at the 1950 Bach bicentenary Competition in Leipzig (he was on the jury), and it was she who premiered them in Leningrad in 1952. Her third recording of the D. Shostakovich 24 Preludes & Fugues won the 1991 Gramophone award in the instrumental category.
In 1959 Tatiana Nikolayeva became a teacher at the Moscow Conservatory, later becoming professor in 1965. She was made an Honored Artist of the R.S.F.S.R. in 1955.
Her compositions include: several symphonies; Piano Concerto in B major, her Op. 10 performed and recorded (with the composer at the piano and Kirill Kondrashin conducting) in 1951 and published in 1958; 2nd Piano Concerto; Trio for piano, flute and viola recorded on BIS Records; Piano Quintet; String Quartet; Piano Sonata; Preludes for piano, and many other piano pieces.
Tatiana Nikolayeva was stricken with a cerebral hemorrhage while playing the D. Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues at a public concert in San Francisco on Novevember 13, 1993: she died 9 days later.