A Richter Miscellany

Remembering Sviatoslav Richter, on the centenary of his birth, in words, pictures and music….. Please feel free to add more reminiscences, articles, pictures, video etc in the comments box below….

Sviatoslav Richter 1992 ©roberto ugolini
Sviatoslav Richter 1992
©roberto ugolini

Rubenstein on Richter:

“I was curious to hear the “great Richter” and went to his concert. He played three pieces by Ravel, simply incredibly! A sound of prodigious beauty! I had never heard before a piano sound like that. It was an other instrument. It brought tears to my eyes. Richter is a gigantic musician with great intelligence. He plays the piano, and the piano responds. He sings with the piano.”

Richter’s aversion to television (article)

Sviatoslav Richter about himself

I was born in Zhitomir in 1915, in Berditchev Street which was later called Karl Marx Street, even though it turned into Berditchev Highway, thus preserving the original name. This highway led to a bridge over the Teterev River. In a cabin at the edge of the city – I am digressing – lived Irina Ivanova, whom I knew as a girl, and her mother. When you entered the cabin, you ran the risk of tumbling head over heels. Irina later became the wife of Lev Nikolaevich Naumov. Neuhaus was very fond of him. Naumov was a magnificent musician, almost a saintly one, and was a loyal adherent of the Neuhaus School. A likeable and emotional man. I heard him play Chopin’s fourth Scherzo wonderfully well… From the bridge, looking to the left, one could make out a church in the distance, and it awakened hopes, as it were, of something both fascinating and mysterious. I always had a longing to go there – the name of the village was Stanishovka – but we never got there. The grown-ups always dodged my questions, they ascribed no importance to them. Stanishovka will remain forever in my memory… My first memories are dreams.

Aus Walentina Tschemberdschi
Swjatoslaw Richter, Eine Reise durch Sibirien
Residenz-Verlag Salzburg 1992

Sviatoslav Richter is dead – New York Times obituary

Benjamin Britten listens to a point being made by Richter in 1968. (Photography: Brian See)

Maris Jansons: “This is [pianist] Sviatoslav Richter and my father rehearsing when the Leningrad Philharmonic was at its summer home. It was around 1953. I knew all the artists very well; they were very good friends with my father. It was a family there in the summertime. We all lived for two months in a hotel, so we spent breakfast, lunch and dinner together. Of course I didn’t speak too much because I was quite shy. Since I studied music, it was all so interesting. I was all the time in the musical atmosphere … and I learned intrigue, bad things, things behind the scenes.”


Schubert Sonata in G Major, D 894

Richter in his own words….

“The interpreter is really an executant, carrying out the composer’s intentions to the letter. He doesn’t add anything that isn’t already in the work. If he is talented, he allows us to glimpse the truth of the work that is in itself a thing of genius and that is reflected in him. He shouldn’t dominate the music, but should dissolve into it.” Or, similarly: “I am not a complete idiot, but whether from weakness or laziness have no talent for thinking. I know only how to reflect: I am a mirror . . . Logic does not exist for me. I float on the waves of art and life and never really know how to distinguish what belongs to the one or the other or what is common to both. Life unfolds for me like a theatre presenting a sequence of somewhat unreal sentiments; while the things of art are real to me and go straight to my heart.”

Richter on Stalin’s funeral (from Richter: The Enigma, a film by Bruno Monsaingeon)

The Wild Man of Classical Music – filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon recalls his first meeting with Richter