Death of an iconic piano teacher, 76

Death of an iconic piano teacher, 76


norman lebrecht

May 09, 2018

The influential teacher Irena Orlov died yesterday after heart surgery.

A professor at the Levine School of Music at Washington DC she was highly regarded by such rising artists as Dmitri Masleev, Nikolai Lugansky and Lucas Debargue.

Her life story covers two generations of Russian dissidence.

Her father, Abram Isaakovich Rozhansky, was chief defender in a series of Soviet anti-Jewish trials between 1969 and 1975.

Irena mingled with dissident poets and smuggled out their works, while playing in Andrey Boreyko’s period instrument ensemble. In 1980 she left for Israel, where she developed an advanced practice in music therapy. Six years later she moved to the US.


  • Observer says:

    How and why someone in today’s day and age with all the high-tech medical equipment and knowledge (esp. in the US) dies from heart surgery is beyond me. Hope her family gets a good lawyer.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      1) Offer your condolences.

      2) Refrain from commenting on circumstances of which you have no knowledge.

      3) In general, respect for the deceased in this moment.

      Rest in peace, Irena Orlov.

    • Bruce says:

      “How and why, etc. etc….is beyond me.”

      Yes. Clearly.

    • CJ says:

      “… with all the high-tech equipment and knowlege (esp. in the US)…”!!!
      And they say the French are chauvinistic!

      Unfortunately, medicine is not an exact science and in every heart surgery there is still a slight element of risk (even in the US!!). I am sorry for that lady.

  • Andrey Boreyko says:

    She was amazing, unique, full of Love. She was a kind of angel.
    Anybody who knew her can only confirm this.
    She was a fantastic piano teacher, a great personality, a real friend, a huge supporter for young talents, ans part of Leningrad’s underground scene in the 70s.

    She was known also as sort of physician, psychologist, doctor, who worked with children with special needs. And the results were amazing. Kids not just learned piano, but they learned the ability to communicate with the rest.
    And Irena knew how to do it, just by teaching them to play the piano….

    For 40 years I had the pleasure of knowing her, and learned her mantra:

    It is easy to be happy: just make others happy by offering them all you can.

    Hundreds of her friends, students, pupils ,
    many of them laureates of different competitions and teachers them self- will always remember Irena Orlov-Jasnogorodskaja. I am among them.
    Светлая память.
    Miss you.

    • Natalya says:

      Только сейчас, спустя два года я узнала эту более чем неожиданную и печальную весть… Все думала, почему она мне не отвечает на почту? Наконец сегодня позвонила – “телефон не функционирует”. Нашла информацию в GOOGLE… Лучше бы не находила… Мы были подругами в Израиле, она приехала через два месяца после меня и ее поселили в том же хостеле. Потом мы разъехались – они с Генрихом в штаты, а я в Австрию. Почти потерялись надолго, но все же пару лет назад снова и радостно нашлись. Я до сих пор все думала добраться до Америки и повидаться с ней.
      Андрей, извините, пожалуйста! Меня зовут Наталья. Вы меня не знаете, я Вас тоже не знаю, но вы были друзьями те же 40 лет. Прочитала Ваше сообщение и как-то автоматически стала писать… От такого неожиданного удара… Осталась о моей Ирэше очень светлая и благодарная память о ней. זיכרונה לברכה

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    So very sorry to read this. She had a remarkable and brilliant life, leaving her legacy within so many people to carry on her traditions.

  • David Post says:

    A terrible loss. Irena was one of the most remarkable people I have ever known. She began teaching my son Sam Post back some 25 years ago, when he was just a small boy, and their relationship grew and blossomed over the years as Sam became more and more serious about music and about the piano. She was a true mentor for Sam – a teacher and a friend and a counselor. She had a very special gift as a music teacher, and her influence on the dozens and dozens of students she taught over the years is incalculable. May she rest in peace.

  • Charles & Delores Huddleston says:

    Condolences from my wife and me. Irena was a very special neighbor and so was her late husband Henry. We will really miss her. RIP Irena, RIP.

  • Jean Kellogg says:

    Brilliant, inspirational, loving, and an extraordinarily gifted teacher. Such a great loss to the musical world. RIP, dear Irena.

  • Maria Antonyan says:

    One of the most beautiful, extraordinary, smart and free human being I’ve ever met in my life. The gift to love and understand was her main talent, as well as be a real unique friend. I love you, Irena. I terribly miss you. Пусть там у тебя все будет хорошо, родная.

  • Adam d says:

    She taught the famous Adam Blayney