Friday, October 2, 2009

From Australia to Russia


Today I found myself reading the obituary of the Australian pianist Geoffrey Peter Bede Hawkshaw Tozer. That is a picture of him up above.

Most people know him as Geoffrey Tozer but that is his full name, Geoffrey Peter Bede Hawkshaw Tozer. It says so in the obituary I just linked to. You have to get to the end to find it out, but that is what I did.

That is as good as Alicia de Larrocha y de la Calle.

It might even be better!

Mr. Tozer was only 54. He is not a big name on our shores but in Australia he is apparently huge. The obituary in the Australian is the longest obituary I have ever seen. And that includes former presidents. The writer was a former prime minister of Australia who as I understand it did a lot to forward Mr. Tozer's career. He obviously loved the artist deeply and there is something endearing about that.

The obituary gave me a lot to think about. Here is one phrase I love.

When the pianist Tatiana Nikolayeva, a mistress of Shostakovich, came to Australia in the 1990s, she said to her tour promoter, 'I want to hear the one who plays like a Russian’. And, of course, she meant Geoffrey.

"The pianist Tatiana Nikolayeva, a mistress of Shostakovich."

I love that!

First of all I get a kick out of how these days, you never write, "Pianist Tatiana Nikolayeva." It is always "the pianist." As if, of course you have heard of her.

Sometimes in newspapers it gets so pretentious, as you read a long list of the pianist so-and-so, the painter so-and-so, the sculptor John Doe, the dancer Jane Doe. All those "the's." Think of the space you could save without them!

Back to the pianist Tatiana Nikolayeva. I love also the part about "a mistress of Shostakovich." As if, that qualifies her.

She slept with Shostakovich!

And Shostakovich would never have slept with her had she not been a great pianist, now, would he have? Therefore her opinion counts for something.

That is great old-fashioned thinking.

Here is a picture of the pianist Tatiana Nikolayeva who slept with Shostakovich.


Here is a severe Soviet picture of her.


I cannot stop looking at that picture! It is fascinating to imagine Tatiana Nikolayeva as one half of a smoldering Russian romance. I wonder when it was that she and Shostakovich looked at each other and something just happened.

Tatiana Nikolayeva died in 1993 in San Francisco after being stricken while playing Shostakovich preludes and fugues.


That is a most dramatic way to go.

I am not sure what Geoffrey Peter Bede Hawkshaw Tozer died of. The obituaries do not say.

Condolences to Australia.

1 comment:

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