Sunday 20 March 2022


 No better time than the present to celebrate a great Ukrainian – Sviatoslav Richter, one of the most extravagantly gifted pianists who ever lived. He was born on this day in 1915 in the city of Zhytomyr in northwest Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire, later of the Soviet Union). Richter – an intensely private man who almost never gave an interview – preferred concert performance to studio recording, and in his later career liked to appear at short notice in small venues, where a single light trained on the score and the keyboard ensured that the music had full attention. 
One of the most cherished LPs of my  boyhood was Richter's recording of Beethoven's Pathétique and Appassionata sonatas (the one pictured above). But here he is playing Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy, a piece so technically demanding that it often defeated its composer. Richter, with his formidable technique, makes it sound so easy...


  1. Yes Ricardo - what a pianist! I saw him toward the end of his life in London, using a score and yes, a single small spotlight. In my case it was an act of homage as much as a strong desire to hear him live. And so it turned out. Gone was the leonine forward motion, replaced by what I felt at the time was an air of autumnal resignation. When he rose to bow to the packed audience he looked rather puzzled, as if wondering what all these people were doing in his room. But, at the end, that wonderful Beethovenian head rose, and, fronted by the famously grumpy visage,broke into the merest wisp of a smile, and he was gone. An enigma to the last.