Does Mikhail Pletnev know ‘Happy Birthday’?

Does Mikhail Pletnev know ‘Happy Birthday’?


norman lebrecht

April 16, 2017

His Russian National Orchestra gave him the big 60th birthday greeting in Bogota, Colombia, a few hours ago. But the Russian pianist and conductor did not show a trace of emotion or recognition.

Does he know the tune? Is he playing poker?


  • master jim says:

    Nope, he’s just Russian.

  • Nick says:

    He is a master pianist and master conductor – but unlike a Rostropovich he rarely if ever smiles. I have been in his presence when he has laughed heartily, though! Perhaps in Bogota he just felt the tempo was way too slow and took up too much of he rehearsal time!

  • David Boxwell says:

    In my experience, 60 year-olds don’t care to be reminded, in public, that they are 60.

  • Brian B says:

    Another famous Russian musician didn’t know Happy Birthday. By the name of Igor Stravinsky. He was so taken with it he later wrote the Greeting Prelude.

  • FJ Haydn says:

    Sorry, that’s the most you’re going to get… and a trimmer tummy.

  • George King says:

    Is it a necessary mark of any musician to know or recognize ‘Happy birthday’? Maybe he was disgusted by its triteness.

  • Conrad van Alphen says:

    Spot on David Boxwell. He told me earlier this week that he did not want to celebrate his jubilee. Though it may not show from the video he really appreciated this gesture from his orchestra and it touched him. This was done at the rehearsal before an exhilarating final concert of the Festival Internacional de Música Clásica de Bogotá with the “birthday boy” in top form. This marvellous festival in the week before Easter has once again been an enriching experience for the many listeners and performers alike.

  • Iain Scott says:

    I do not care. When he was at EIF he delivered-along with the awful Charles Dutoit-some of the worst concerts I have been to.

    • Dan P. says:

      Curious to find out (with no ill will intended) – what was the problem with Charles Dutoit?

      • Iain Scott says:

        Forgive the delay in responding as I had blocked the horrendous performances from my memory . I think the best way to describe it was cynical and shallow. Everything was done for effect-if he could whip things up he would if he could slow things down he did.
        A veneer of gloss paint over everything but no substance underneath.

        • Dan P. says:

          Thanks for that. I’ve never had the chance to see him conduct and only know his work from a couple of CDs from a long time ago and was curious.

    • Mikey says:

      well there goes any shred of credibility you could positively have had.