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I won at 20 competitions and came away with tendonitis

May 29, 2017 by norman lebrecht

10 comments.


Dmitri Levkovich, a Canadian-Ukrainian pianist, won the Cleveland, Jose Iturbi, Gina Bachauer, and other international competitions and received top prizes in many more.

His career is on the upswing, with a highly praised Rachmaninov recording, despite a struggle with crippling tendonitis.

Daniel, uncommonly composed, talks philosophically about coping with whatever adversities life brings his way. ‘All my life, I play with my eyes closed,’ he says.

Watch Zsolt Bognar’s sensitive interview here:


Comments (10)

  1. Blanco Diablo says:

    A touching interview (rather long winded, didn’t sit out all of it, his physical presence isn’t exactly arresting), and one definitely sympathizes, but — “career on the upswing”? According to his website there were 16 engagements in 2016, not all of them genuine concerts, and only 8 are listed for 2017. Not a huge yield considering the list of competition wins. Do they pay the rent and put bread on the table?

    And the CD of Rachmaninoff preludes– how does it distinguish itself from the other 50-odd listed recordings? Why should I buy another one when I already have Ashkenazy’s and Ereshko’s? This market is more than saturated — it is supersaturated.

    This is unfortunately an all-too-familiar story: desperate attempts to make a career as a concert pianist in face of competition from hundreds of others and rapidly diminishing public interest. It would be better for his health and financial survival to train for an alternative, for example something in real estate or social media. Never too late. Good luck.

    1. Bruce says:

      Music has never been a “realistic” career path. Most of us who try don’t make it. Most of us who make it, don’t make it big. Those of us who make it, big or small, don’t always last. The weeding-out process never, ever, stops. The naysayers never, ever, stop. (This site provides many examples of that.)

      Pretty much everyone who is, or has been, a professional musician, can cite at least one heart-to-heart conversation in their student days with a teacher or parent recommending (sometimes in very strong terms) that they choose another path.

      Nothing you say in this comment of yours is news to any of us.

  2. respect says:

    Mr. diablo, your schadenfreude is showing.

    1. Blanco Diablo says:

      @ Respect
      Absolutely not, I have no skin in this game and am genuinely trying to suggest realistic solutions. One Russian pianist (Korobeinikov I think) studied law in addition to piano and could presumably litigate in between executing glissandi.

      As we write this, over 70 new international piano competitions have taken place this year already, producing a slew of additional prizewinners hitting the “market”.

  3. Nurhan Arman says:

    This is a fascinating interview with Dmitri. He speaks with such honesty, sincerity and always to the point, captivating to the end. I had the pleasure of collaborating with him at Sinfonia Toronto on two occasions. My colleagues and I much enjoyed working with Dmitri. His brilliant and imaginative interpretations resulted in standing ovations. And to reply to the previous commentator – yes his Rachmaninoff preludes are distinguishable. Just listen to them and it will be obvious within few measures. They are such gorgeous performances.

  4. Steinway Fanatic says:

    Tendonitis is the result of bad teaching & poor practicing. If you are taught to use your mechanism correctly, and if you practice sensibly & intelligently, you won’t develop tendonitis.

    1. will says:

      -1!
      Would YOU like to tell e.g. the great Leon Fleisher that he DIDN’T practice sensibly & intelligently?

      1. Ross says:

        Do you know the difference between tendonitis and focal dystonia?

        1. Steinway Fanatic says:

          Exactly — Fleisher’s issue wasn’t tendonitis, it was focal dystonia.

  5. Esfir Ross says:

    I wish Dmitry great success, he’s a wonderful pianist and solid musician. We participated in Thalberg competition 2012, He played after me and was greatful that I was smart to lower lead of piano. Dmitry won this competition and he’s a lovely fun liking person.


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