Historical interpretations of Friderick Chopin works

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Jelena Bekman-Szczerbina - biography


Elena Bekman-Scherbina, a Russian pianist (maiden name Kamiencewa), was born in Moscow on 12 January 1882, and died on 30 September 1951, also in Moscow. She came across music at her aunt’s, Elizaveta Scherbina’s house, where she was brought up after her mother’s death. She took the name Beckman after marriage. She began piano lessons with the music student Valentina Zograf in 1888, and in the autumn that year she became a pupil of Nikolay Zverev. She continued her studies under Zverev at the Moscow Conservatory. From 1893, she was tutored by Pawel Pabst, and from 1897 by Vasyl Safonov. In 1899 she graduated from the conservatory with a gold medal. In January 1900, she made her first public appearance at the Russian Music Society concert with the Schubert Trio in B flat major. In 1902, she started performing as a soloist and as a chamber musician playing with Abram Jampolskij, Gregor Piatigorskij and with the Beethoven Quartet. Her repertoire ranged from the 13th to 19th centaury pieces of such composers as A. de la Halle, Caccini, Lully, Boccherini, Scarlatti, Purcell, Grétry, Haendel, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Saint-Saëns, Brahms, Franck, Fauré, Musorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and others. Bekman-Scherbina was also a keen exponent of the 20th century music. Between 1912 and 1921 she was the first pianist in Moscow to perform pieces by Scriabin, Debussy, Ravel, Roger-Ducasse, de Séverac and Albéniz. She frequently performed in Moscow and across the whole country. From 1924 she gave solo performances on the radio. She had a very good pitch and an exceptional memory. Her interpretations were characterized by a mix of intellect, lyricism and virtuoso technique. The musicologist Alexander D. Aleksejev wrote about her playing: "her artistic nature makes it impossible for her to want to show off, to parade her technique instead of art. Her playing is clear, natural, aiming towards embracing the form […]. She is especially brilliant at pieces of light and lyrical character, composed in transparent, >>watercolour<< tones.” She was also involved in teaching. She started giving private piano lessons in 1894 and from 1908 she taught at The Gnesins School of Music. Between 1912 and 1918 she ran her own piano school, next she was a teacher at Alexander Scriabin’s music school, and finally she returned to The Gnesins School of Music, where she spent a total of 25 years. Between 1921 and 1930 she gave a seminar on contemporary French music at the Moscow Conservatory. From the mid 1930’s to 1941 she gave lectures at the Central Extramural Institute of Music. During the Second World War she spent some time away from Moscow, performing for soldiers, and at music schools. In Kazan she gave concerts at the Philharmonic Hall and on the radio. Her jubilee and at the same time the last public performance took place on 26 November 1950, and she then played pieces by Chopin and Scriabin (Variations in B major Op. 2, Concerto in F minor). Her recordings were published by Aprelevskij zavod. She also published her own piano pieces for children and wrote her memoir Moi wospominanija (first edition in 1962).

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