Sad death of international accordionist, 41

Sad death of international accordionist, 41


norman lebrecht

February 19, 2018

We have been saddened to learn that the Toronto accordion virtuoso Alexander Sevastian, died on Friday in Ajijic, Mexico, a few hours before he was due to give a concert with the Quartetto Gelato. He apparently died in his sleep from a massive heart attack.

Alexander Sevastian started out in Moscow, touting Europe with the Russian Radio Orchestra. Moving with his family to Canada in 2002, he studied at the University of Toronto and joined the Quartetto Gelato.

In April 2008, Alexander Sevastian he played the Malcolm Forsyth Accordion Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Peter Oundjian,  touring the work across Eastern Canada.

Alex is survived by his wife Anya, their children Vladimir and Maria, his brother Vitali and his mother Nadya.


  • David R Osborne says:

    A terrible loss and not just because he went tragically, ridiculously young. There is a massive shortage of A-grade Accordionists worldwide, and Alexander was definitely that.

  • John McKellar says:

    I think we could call him the Paganini of Accordion players. Sadly, his overall physique was not as fit as his fingers.

    • Michele Scheffler says:

      Many, many people carry extra weight. It does not make them bad people or of less value than others. It did not necessarily cause his early death. And he would not have made this unkind comment. He was a wonderful, gentle man. However, karma is a bugger. Watch for it.

      • Alan says:

        I don’t think John McKellar was being unkind at all! Yes he was overweight but being called a Paganini can only be the ultimate tribute! I know nothing at all about this young man and am no aficionado of the accordion except knowing a hundred bad jokes but, judging by the clip Norman included, his talent was supreme and his premature death a great loss. I will look at the instrument in a new light after this. My condolences to family and fans.

    • michele Woodey says:

      A very insensitive and unnecessary comment.

  • Michael Shapiro says:

    Awful awful news. Alexander played on our chamber series two years ago and was extraordinary. He joked that he could play anything Ades threw at him. I am very sad at this news. A truly rare talent. So abundantly musical.

  • Véronique says:

    Our virtuosi are not celebrated enough! Alexander was an international musical master. Most people would not hear about him, unless they woul be music aficionados or followers of Quartetto Gelato. And now, the announcement of his tragic death, and at such a young age, does not become first page of our news as it would if he were a hockey player! A major loss for the musical industry internationally.

    May he Rest In Peace!

  • Michele Scheffler says:

    Alexander Sevastian was one of the greatest accordionists/bayanists in musical history. He was deeply loved and admired and is already sorely missed. The accordion world has lost an icon. An incredible loss…..prayers and blessings to his family.

  • Richard Szymczyk says:

    I first met Alexander soon after his arrival here and invited him to perform at an accordion concert with Italian Excelsior artists at Hamilton Place Studio Theatre.. The audience would not allow him to leave the stage! Not surprising.
    Following his career, we became friends and I had the privilege of holding a concert in Burlington in ’06 with his teacher Friedrich Lips, with Domra artist Ira Erokhina and soprano Helen Spiers, both performers with the Toronto Mandolin Orchestra.
    No rehearsals – and it’s true – Alexander excelled at everything presented to him..
    We have lost one of the greatest accordion/bayanists ever and a kind, gentle and unassuming friend to all…
    Never ever to be forgotten, Alexander….
    My deepest sympathy and condolences to his family, friends and to the world of music.

  • Hugh Kruzel says:

    So sad. Is it only a year ago i interviewed him here in Sudbury? His ability to express such beauty with the acordion was outstanding; his skill marveled at! He was generous with his time, and the audience embraced his enthusiasm with extended applause.

  • Dave Richards says:

    I heard about this sad event via the CBC’s “Sunday Edition” program. I actually studied accordion as a kid, but (for better or worse) the “calling” didn’t stick with me. As to the question of his weight: I note from the file photographs of him that his weight only became remarkable during the final years of his life. The earlier photographs show him to be of relatively moderate build — well within mainstream contemporary norms. Perhaps there was a glandular or an emotional condition involved in his later weight gain. In any case, as both a professing Catholic and a professing Buddhist initiate, I bid him all blessings and good luck in his further cosmic adventures.

  • says:

    The greatest of all accordionist has left us. Yes there are others but Alex was super special. Loved to listen to Alex every day. RIP.