Evgeny Kissin’s story will finally be told

Evgeny Kissin’s story will finally be told


norman lebrecht

August 19, 2016

The remarkable Russian pianist has signed a book contract with Orion publishers for a memoirs that he has written together with the St Petersburg writer, Marina Arshinova.

The book, to be published in 2017, covers his early years and development in the Soviet Union, his debuts with Karajan, Giulini, Levine and other conductors, and his slowly-discovered love for the Yiddish language.

kissin karajan-8

Karajan’s wife Eliette said Kissin’s debut was the only time she saw her husband weep.


  • Ljubisa says:


  • Annabelle Weidenfeld says:

    And it will be published by the Weidenfeld imprint of Orion and was a project Lord Weidenfeld held dear to his heart. Evgeny pad magnificent tribute to him by playing for him at his Memorial in London in June.

  • Ian says:

    It seems Herr Karajan had a history of “only time I saw him weep”…Rumoured to have had a little dribble when hearing Ferrier singing Angus dei,et etc.

    • Pedro says:

      Angus dei? Is this part of a new text of the h-moll Messe where the lamb has been replaced by a cow? An early discovery by Harnoncourt who was playing cello in the VSO when Karajan conducted the work with Ferrier in 1950? I’m certainly intrigued.

      Having attended three of the four performances of Tchaikovsky1 by Karajan and Kissin, i can confirm that the former was indeed very impressed by the latter. You can also see this on the Sony DVD.

  • NERDY says:

    Ferrier singing “Angus Dei”? Something seems wrong here…

  • Eugene Nizker says:

    “Weeping” over a Jew playing piano? And that’s considering his legacy of impenitent member of NSDAP? Nice legend, but please come up with something more plausible about this man who never regretted his past!

    • jaypee says:

      Congratulations for the dumbest posting of the day!
      I am by no means a fan of Herbie but to accuse him of antisemitism is quite stupid. And yes, I know of his affiliations with the nazi party. He was an opportunist but he certainly wasn’t a “nazi”.

      Do you want a list of all the Jewish composers he conducted? From Mendelssohn to Schoenberg without forgetting Mahler? A list of all the Jewish musicians he played with?

      I thought so.

      • Sue says:

        Fully agree with this. Carlos Kleiber greatly admired and loved HVK and Kleiber was a warm and engaging human being himself who found people easy to like. HVK was a mentor and he visited HVK’s grave every time he arrived in or left Salzburg (where he had an apartment).

        • Pedro says:

          Kleiber and Giulini attended the dress rehearsal of HvK Don Giovanni in Easter 1987. As far as I know both of them were amazed by the results. In that festival edition Giulini conducted the BPO in Bruckner 8. Karajan was much better in that work, IMHO.

      • Heath says:

        Actually, Karajan was a Nazi twice over. He first registered with the party in 1933 on Aachen, and then later -just to make sure – again. He is a known anti-Semite, not just an opportunist. Do your research before posting in public. Even if he was an opportunist there is NO excuse for being at the head of arts and culture for a regime that killed so many millions. They’re all tied in with each other. Don’t try to excuse those in the upper echelons of genocide, because you only make yourself out as a fool. Fool!

        • Pedro says:

          His attitude was certaily deplorable at the time but he was not the head of Arts and Culture of the regime. Furtwaengler, Strauss and Krauss held that job during the Nazi years at one time or the other. HvK was only 24 in January 1933.

        • jaypee says:

          “He is a known anti-Semite”

          Please, share with us your information.
          You might be interested to know that Karajan’s second wife was “considered a Vierteljüdin (one-quarter Jewish woman)” and that he married her in 1942. Not too bad for a “known anti-Semite”.

          You must confuse him with Karl B…

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            You got that exactly the wrong way around, Heath. The fact that Karajan applied for NSDAP membership twice clearly indicates that he didn’t take it very seriously the first time. He didn’t make sure his membership really became active, he never paid his party dues, if he had, he wouldn’t have had to join again in 1935.
            He may have joined the first time because he was afraid he might lose his job in Ulm if he didn’t, but since the membership never became active and he lost that job anyway, it is safe to say that he didn’t pursue his (not even really active) NSDAP membership enthusiastically nor that he tried to use it to get ahead.

  • Ljubisa says:

    Dear Friends,
    What are you talking about?
    Simple throught:
    Karajan was one of the greatist Maestros EVER!
    Kissin is one of the greatest pianists of our time!
    End of story!

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    As so often on Norman’s site- this thread has become about Herbert Von Karajan!

    Back to the point- Evgeny is probably the most miraculous pianist alive today. Stupendous technician but could equally be labelled as the only true ‘Romantic’ pianist left. Still in his early 40’s he’s got a lot more to say on the piano and his wider pursuits are growing. I will try and get a copy.

  • Pedro says:

    +1 and Kissin played the best Appassionata I have heard since Richter last March in Paris.