The smoking soloist? Not in my house

The smoking soloist? Not in my house


norman lebrecht

June 22, 2021

The pianist Khatia Buniatishvili has released a new publicity portrait on a swing by Esther Haase.

But what’s with the cigarette? Who still smokes in summer 2021?


  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Yes, they killed Tennstedt, Bernstein and Morton Feldman

  • Jack says:

    Is smoking still considered glamorous in France and/or Georgia?

  • debuschubertussy says:

    lol the more widespread legalized weed is, the answer might be, “more people than you think…”

  • Steven Holloways says:

    Well, you see, Norman, there’s this pianist named Martha Argerich, for starters…

  • Freewheeler says:

    It could be a blunt..?

  • marcus says:

    for one, I do. it’s still legal (mostly) so what is your problem? You dont like it? Well Boo fucking Hoo. get used to it.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      So do I. Cigar and pipe, but no cigarettes. Having a pipe after dinner is still on of the pleasures of the civilized world 😉

  • Reg says:

    Are you certain it’s a cigarette?

  • Goldenera says:

    remember Martha? She pulled it off magnificently.

  • Ed says:

    She smokes after playing.

  • Davidoff says:

    Looks more like a mini cigarillo… overruled.

  • Steve says:

    Well, it won’t surprise you to know that no accurate statistics are available for summer 2021 but the last easily available data (2019) showed the number of smokers worldwide at an all-time high of 1.1bn. True, in countries like the UK the numbers are in decline, but there were still 7m in 2019, which is rather more than the 4.25m who (according to the ABO) attended an orchestral concert.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Katia does. Her choice.

    • George says:

      Not if someone else has to breath her second-hand smoke (most likely an assistant, publicist, manager, etc.). Reckless and inconsiderate behavior on her part.

  • Your question: what’s with the cigarette? Answer: she got your headline. Best wishes, Carlos

  • Cornishman says:

    Yuja is also said to be a smoker, isn’t she? Maybe an association with a certain kind of glamour does indeed live on.

    • Piano fan says:

      I’d be surprised to learn that Yuja is a smoker. I’ve spent time with her and neither saw her smoking nor noticed eau-de-tobacco.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Annie Fischer was nicknamed ‘Ashtray Annie’. I wonder why?

  • Alexis Oberreit says:

    Who? Stressed soloists with too many concerts to prepare? Stressed soloists with too few concerts to prepare? Anti-vaccs who think a cigarette works better? Deluded retro-fashion people? The 14-year old neighbour? So many possibilities to think of…

  • Chiara says:

    I think Muti still smokes.

  • When I was studying at Peabody, most of Leon Fleisher’s students (and LF himself) smoked like chimneys. I don’t know when (or if) he ever stopped, but certainly not back in the 70’s.

    The keys of the lowest A and the highest C on most of the pianos in the practice rooms had burn marks from parking cigarettes there while practicing, because apparently LF did that himself a lot. It became almost a joke. I wonder how much of an influence LF’s smoking had on his students?

  • David K. Nelson says:

    The history of tobacco advertising 1920s to 1950s includes a surprising number of opera singers as endorsers of this or that brand, on the assumption that nobody takes better care of their throat than an opera singer. They were considered better endorsers than even doctors.

    It might have been the great baritone Lawrence Tibbett who appeared in a magazine ad claiming that “Old Gold [or whatever brand] cigarettes never bother my throat!” When somebody pointed out “But you don’t smoke” he replied “THAT’S why they never bother my throat.”

    • BrianB says:

      I thought that was Jan Peerce but I wouldn’t bet that it wasn’t Tibbett. Either way, it’s a true story. Deceptive advert but not strictly speaking a falsehood. 😉

  • Musicman says:

    Dietrich Fischer-Diskeau smoked like a chimney and somehow still sounded great and lived until he was 86!

    • V.Lind says:

      A VERY great ballet dancer told me that he smoked with relative impunity because the daily routine of a dancer sweated the toxins out of the system.

      True or not, a very high proportion of the dancers I have known are smokers. Low-cal relaxation.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Not everyone who plays Russian roulette loses.

  • esfir ross says:

    I was fitured on a swing in a documentary way before Khatia and no cigarette. Plagiarism!

  • Alexander Graham Cracker says:

    She may smoke in my house (or on my swing) any time.

  • Nick says:

    She can smoke all she wants as long as she does NOT play the piano!!

  • Saxon says:

    Who still smokes in summer 2021?

    Mostly the poor and the feckless.

  • John King says:

    I hope it was just for visual effect, and she doesn’t smoke in real life. Would hate for anything to ruin those healthy lungs of hers.