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#1508998 - 09/04/10 02:47 PM New bio of Eugene Istomin
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20463
Loc: New York City
I just got the newly published bio of Eugene Istomin by James Gollin. Anyone read it yet?
http://pianist-istomin.com/

Have you heard Istomin live or on recordings?

I think I've only heard him live once. It was at Carnegie Hall maybe 20 years ago. The only thing I can remember was that he played a great last encore, the beautiful Mendelssohn Song without Words that starts on the dominant with the LH on F# the RH melody starting A-D(can't remember the name).


Edited by pianoloverus (09/04/10 02:57 PM)

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#1509325 - 09/05/10 08:05 AM Re: New bio of Eugene Istomin [Re: pianoloverus]
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
I had booked him for a concert in Beaufort expecting a really great performance. He was nice personally but the program was not played well at all. It was a disappointment. Perhaps he had a bad evening or something but others were equally unimpressed by the performance. He had a great reputation so I'm not sure what happened to cause the disappointing evening.

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#1509684 - 09/05/10 08:28 PM Re: New bio of Eugene Istomin [Re: pianoloverus]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20463
Loc: New York City
I've read the first 50 pages and think the book is terrific.

A few bind boggling facts so far. Istomin says that at around age 16 he could learn(I assume tha means at least the notes up to tempo) the Appasionata or a Mozart Concerto in twp hours and Leonard Bernstein(a few years older than Istomin but going to Curtis at the same time)could learn a Scriabin Sonata with the same speed.

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#1509706 - 09/05/10 09:15 PM Re: New bio of Eugene Istomin [Re: pianoloverus]
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
It would have been interesting to hear him at that stage but he was teaching at Mannes I think when I booked him for the program I mentioned. I looked forward to his performance because of the things I had read and heard of him. I had not heard any of his recordings at that point. But, again, I don't know why, but the presentation was not good.

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#1510119 - 09/06/10 01:45 PM Re: New bio of Eugene Istomin [Re: pianoloverus]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20463
Loc: New York City
I'm on page 120 and think this is one of the best bios I've ever read.

It turns out that Istomin was friends with or at least knew many of the great pianists, violinists, and conductors in that era. So besides hearing about Istomin there are tons of information and interesting stories about people like Bernstein, Kapell, Graffman, Janis, Leventritt, Busch, Serkin, Horszowski, Bolet, Arthur Judson, Venegrova, Goode, Stern, Rorem, Fleisher, etc.

The story of Istomin's concerto debut at Carnegie Hall is interesting. Before the concert he went to the Steinway Hall basement where there were five piano to choose from including a new one with shiny(and slippery)keys and the pianos used by Rubinstein and Rachmaninov(?). Istomin selected Rubinstein's piano. Istomin was very young, around 18, and he was going to play Brahms PC #2 for his CH debut.

When Istomin came on stage that afternoon, already in a state of extreme nervousness, he saw that the piano was not the one he had chosen but the new one with the slippery keys. Although Istomin apparently never completely got over this "surprise" and thought he played poorly, the critics gave a terrific review. Istomin later found out that Rubinstein was going to play at Carnegie Hall that same night, so the managers had apparently switched pianos on Istomin because they didn't think Rubinstein would want to play on a piano that had been used for a concert that same afternoon.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/06/10 02:45 PM)

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#1510361 - 09/06/10 07:55 PM Re: New bio of Eugene Istomin [Re: Varcon]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2715
Originally Posted By: Varcon
I had booked him for a concert in Beaufort expecting a really great performance. He was nice personally but the program was not played well at all. It was a disappointment. Perhaps he had a bad evening or something but others were equally unimpressed by the performance. He had a great reputation so I'm not sure what happened to cause the disappointing evening.
the said thing is that even the greatest virtuoso's, and E.I. was one of them, can have a day off, it's unfortunately not a 9-5 business that we're facing, but something much more challenging, and it could happen to anyone, anytime, brrr.
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couch´┐Ż de bonne heure, but not anymore!

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#1510414 - 09/06/10 09:11 PM Re: New bio of Eugene Istomin [Re: pianoloverus]
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Yes, I know that even the 'idols' have off days and perhaps that evening was one of his. It was, all in all, a very poor performance. Ganz would tell us of performances where an established artist failed to deliver. Usually the performances were high quality and enjoyed. Unforunately Mr. Istomin didn't come off well.

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