A wedding in the Skriabin family

A wedding in the Skriabin family


norman lebrecht

August 27, 2017

Elisha Abas, the Israeli pianist and former footballer, got married this weekend in New York to  Anna Neelam Rickman.

We wish them every happiness.

Elisha is a great-grandson of Alexander Skriabin’s daughter, Ariadna, who died fighting the Nazis in France.

Full history here.


  • I didn’t know Alexander Scriabin was a Jew. Wasn’t he born into an aristocratic family with Tatar roots in Moscow?

    • REGERFAN says:

      The article does not say that Alexander Scriabin was a Jew. His daughter converted to Judaism after marrying a Jewish man involved with the French Resistance.

    • Thank you for clarifying the Jewish question. I thought only Jewish descendants could be Jews.

      • Joel says:

        According to the Jewish tradition you are a Jew if your mother is a Jew.
        (Please correct me anyone if I am wrong)

        • Scotty says:

          This is a matter that, as you can imagine, has been written about and discussed at length. Matriarchal decent is practiced by Orthodox and Conservative Jews but not by Reform Jews, who accept either Matriarchal or Patriarchal decent. But Reform Jews, require that the Jewish practices be observed for anyone to be considered Jewish, regardless of birthright. Complicating matters further, Israel’s Law of Return, allows anyone with a Jewish grandparent to immigrate, although if that grandparent was not the mother’s mother, the immigrant will not be considered Jewish by the Israeli government.

  • Yoel Gamzou says:

    Indeed a moment of celebration. Elisha Abas is truly one of the greatest pianists of our time. I’m very honoured to have had the chance to make music with him and hope to do so frequently in the future!!

  • Steinway Fanatic says:

    Certainly a lovely story and beautifully told. However, having heard Abas play live and on recording, I observed a fine talent and an extreme narcissism- and his playing was by no means exceptional. Certainly no football player can play the piano better, but the praise ends there. It’s simply too late for Abas to develop into a first-rate artist.

    • Yoel Gamzou says:

      @Steinway fanatic – I beg to differ. Having worked with Abas extensively and known him for years, I can assure you that your observation of narcissism is utterly flawed und wrongly evaluated. I hardly know a more humble artist. I don’t think he will develop into a first rate artist, I am truly convinced he already is one.

      • eduardo marturet says:

        Totally agree with Yoel Gamzou, having had the pleasure and privilege of conducting Elisha Abas, I can confirm he is one of the greatest pianists alive today.
        My very best wishes for the newly wed.

      • La Verita says:

        Anne Midgette’s New York Times review of Elisha Abas’s 2007 Carnegie Hall “return” recital puts the status of Mr. Abas’s artistry into proper perspective: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/05/arts/music/05abas.html

      • Ilona Oltuski says:

        Indeed, I support Yoel’s comment fully. I also had the chance to hear Elisha work, and the honor of presenting him at my GetClassical salon series in NYC! Let me tell you, it is not easy for any artist to play in a bar environment, as cool and elegant as it may be. Not coming from the usual concert stage platform and still having audiences engage fully… There are always some you can not win over, it is a very personal experience, but let me tell you that Elisha had the room in his hands; there were even some tears… Elisha has an enormous artistic capacity and stage presence. And he plays with an individual style that is concincing to some, but certainly on a high level to others. I wish him and his bride much happiness, Ilona Oltuski

    • Adrienne says:

      Hey, Steinway Fanatic…in no uncertain terms, fuck you. You do it better. Start your own career

  • esfir ross says:

    His grandmother Betty Knut was a terrorist that fight in Zionist underground. Betty Knut was Ariadna’s daughter. She placed a bomb in London and flee to Palestine. The other great-grand son of A.Scryabin-V.Sofronitsky grandson Dmitry Cogan’s a fine pianist and lives in USA. His father’s Jew.

  • esfir ross says:

    Julian Scryabin-son of Alexander was half -Jew. His mother Tatiana Schlyotzer was Jewish. So Ariadna was Jewish.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    The comments above look like some kind of Gestapo report. What a shame!

    • Scotty says:

      No they don’t. The Nazis were interested in the topic (the Mischling Test and such) for the purposes of discrimination and execution. The commenters above appear to be curious about ethnic origin for nothing more than historical purposes.

  • Barbara Kerstetter says:

    Elisha has matured since I first heard him play at a concert in my home ten years ago. He was brilliant then; since then he has become a real musician with polish and hesitating tonalities which only a true artist can perform.

    • Ronn Yedidia says:

      Elisha Abas does not need any approvals from anyone for the musical genius that he has demonstrated from age 3 and on to this day. Neither does anyone need to apologize for his artistic choices which are all naturally born by the highest orders of the Gods of Music and comparable to just a few I can encounter in the entire history of classical music’s re-creation and interpretation. I had heard and seen him play live at Carnegie Hall alongside established masters like Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Lowenthal when he was only 11 years of age – commemorating the legendary Arthur Rubinstein who adored and mentored Abas during his late years. To this very day his sounds are etched in my memory and will never leave it. It was pure divinity and magic – unparalleled in its originality and execution. And in fact I’d dare to say that this kind of playing does not ever need to mature. It is born fully mature and no one can ever copy it. Abas’ playing these days is exactly as it used to be in his childhood yet with more prowess and pianistic thrill. I recommend his playing to anyone who is seeking the ‘authentic sound’ of the great romantics like Cortot, Rubinstein and Horowitz that we so love – and without whom Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and their equals would have never made the sublime sense that they do to free mankind.

  • Nicholas Belasco says:

    I have had the pleasure and honor of conducting Elisha twice. His playing has an individuality rare for today and is always greatly lyrical and sensitive. It is remarkable how just his presence on the stage is reassuring and soothing to the other musicians on the stage with him and brings out their best musical qualities. At one of our concerts there was chaos before the start because the tuner did not show up and the concert began late as a result. The orchestra was very nervous, but Elisha’s first notes created a great atmosphere for making music and calmed everyone down immediately. In regard to one comment above which cites a review in the NYT (which I did not read), I find it absurd to make a judgement of an artist based on a review that is ten years old. A true artist is always evolving and will never play the same way twice, even when playing the same pieces.

    • La Verita says:

      Well, Mr. Belasco, it’s not absurd at all, because that 10-year-old review presents a objective view of Abas’s overall talent, and places into context the state of his playing from what it was as of 1983 (the critic quotes the 1983 NYT review) to what it became as of 2007. She observes that the artistic promise demonstrated in 1983 was not fulfilled as of 2007. And, having heard Abas recently, I can only say that the 2007 review pretty much describes the way Abas still plays today. The many raves expressed above are written by well-meaning friends who lack objectivity, and from a composer whose music is played by Abas. They are mistaking precocity for genius. Abas’s playing is certainly competent and skillful to a degree, but otherwise it’s at the level of a good student – and, as the 2007 review kindly points out, his audience that night was satisfied with just that. If Abas were truly the genius that his fans claim him to be, the world’s greatest orchestras, conductors, artist managers & conductors would be clamoring for his services. As Isaac Stern so wisely said, there are no unknown geniuses: If someone is truly great, the industry finds and exploits them.

      • James Feller says:

        Mr. La Verita, I understand your viewpoint. However, the so-called objectivity you mention, does not exist. It is a fault of our time to think it does, as is it the industry’s fault to present so many objective-playing musicians. It seems to me that also your comment lacks objectivity.

        As to Mr. Stern’s wise words: history proves his statement wrong. J.S. Bach was only marginally known in his own lifetime and for the following 150 years (under composers mostly), until Mendelssohn revived him to the public. The rest is history.

        Unknown genius #1

      • Nicholas Belasco says:

        Although I normally avoid taking part in or reading any discussions on this site in which there is negativity, I felt obliged to write a comment since I know Elisha. As I said before, I never heard Elisha’s concert in 2007, so I’m not in any position to comment on it, or the critique of it in the NYT. I also have no interest in debating who is a genius and who isn’t. However, regarding Mr. la Verita’s comment on there being no undiscovered geniuses, another great violinist, Ivry Gitlis, says in his autobiography that it is not enough to play great; rather, it takes someone else committed to making this known. In Martha Argerich’s biography, it is stated by the author, Martha herself, and others interviewed, that she would probably not have become what she became if she had not had an ambitious mother who was always pushing and promoting her. Not everyone has a mother like that. In the same biography, it is discussed how Nelson Freire’s talent was not fully appreciated until he was around 60 years old, because, before, critics only wanted to view him as Martha’s sidekick. I also vaguely remember an interview where Peter Gelb, general manager of the Met said something like in Russia there are lots of Anna Netrebko’s, just that they aren’t yet known elsewhere. So perhaps, if Isaac Stern were alive today, when promoters and agents don’t know what to do with people who don’t fit into stereotypes, he would have thought differently.

        • Tamara says:

          Elisha is a handsome gentleman and has great genes. He is about to become a father for the third child . I wish him a happy new Jewish year, happy Suckot and Goodluck in his new relationship regards to his ex broken hearted girl too.