‘Kennedy’s assassination killed my Carnegie Hall debut’

‘Kennedy’s assassination killed my Carnegie Hall debut’


norman lebrecht

November 27, 2013

Our associate Elijah Ho has a fascinating interview with Marina Mdivani, the first female Soviet musician to be presented in America. She should have made her debut on November 22, 1963. Events intervened. Here, she reflects on studying with Gilels, losing out to Ashkenazy and why competitions don’t produce good musicians. Read Marina, a voice of reason.

marina mdivani


  • Very interesting interview … thanks for sharing this with us, Norman!

    I wonder why they didn’t talk about Van Cliburn’s competition performances? Or why there was no mention of Lazar Berman? And how was she able to meet Stravinsky — assuming she meant meeting him in Russia, at that time? Or did she meet him later in the West?

    I’m looking forward to hearing some of her recordings.

    • It would also be interesting to hear her take on other Soviet women pianists of the era … e.g., Maria Yudina, Tatiana Nikolaeva, Bella Davidovitch, Tamara Guseva … all of whom were well known and active during the time in question.

    • David Abbott says:

      Robert I am trying desperately to get in touch with you. Apparently have wrong email. Contact me via my Albion college email. Very interesting this Midivani pianist–you of course would know the inner details of the stories about Stravinsky, and why no mention of Berman etc. Have much to share with you and have been far too long out of touch….

  • Wonderful interview. I hadn’t seen the name Malcolm Frager for decades, either; a real blast from the past.

  • Sanda Schuldmann says:

    Absolutely fascinating. Thank you so much for bringing this interview to us. Devoured every word of it. Thank you

  • Eric says:

    Poor choice of words here in the headline, in my opinion, even more so since you’re using quotes for something she did not say. Though, fascinating history here.

  • Gabor Fuchs says:

    Ms. Mdivani s teacher at Moccow Conservatory was mine as well.Yakov Isaacovich Milstein was a superb musician and pianist, musicologist( books about Bach s WTK,Liszt,H.Neuhaus,K. Igumnov,Sofronitsky just to name a few),critic and editor of works of Chopin,Liszt and Scriabin.

  • Elijah Ho says:

    Perhaps of interest, Mdivani’s recording of Liszt’s Mazeppa 🙂