Valentin Berlinksky; A Quartet for Life by Maria Matalaev


Foreward by Steven Isserlis


With her experience as an accomplished chamber musician and with her knowledge of contemporary literature, art history and a mastery of a number of foreign languages, Maria now teaches piano and literature in Paris. Classica

Winner of Prix du témoignage, Prix des Muses/Singer-Polignac, Paris 2016, ‘Valentin Berlinksky; A Quartet for Life’ by Maria Matalaev, is a somewhat rare masterpiece written with sensitivity and passion about the Borodin Quartet via the cellist Valentin Berlinsky (1925–2008).  The book explores the Moscow Philharmonic Quartet which then, in 1955, became the Borodin Quartet.

‘The more I read, the more absorbed and touched I was.’
Steven Isserlis

‘Here is a book created with such passion that even those who question the place of music in today’s world will have their faith restored.  The Borodin Quartet was to the string quartet what Richter was to the piano, Oistrakh to the violin, Rostropovich to the cello. But the story of this Soviet ensemble – the first to come out of the USSR to give concerts abroad – was inextricably linked to the personality of its founder, the cellist Valentin Berlinsky. ‘
Franck Mallet, Classica

‘The chapter on Sviatoslav Richter is fascinating, as he was the quartet’s favoured guest pianist. It is nice to have Berlinsky’s thoughts on David Oistrakh, on Rostropovich, on teaching and on trying to make a career in the nightmare of the Soviet Union…  The interview with the cellist’s daughter, the pianist Ludmila Berlinskaya, is more straightforward and very touching.’
Tully Potter, The Strad, June 2019

‘Despite the diversity of the contents, the book reads like a novel, plunging the reader into the daily constraints in which Soviet musicians were obliged to function. Berlinsky does not evade the multiple difficulties that constantly confront the Quartet but shows no bitterness towards his country which he always refused to leave.
Sébastien Foucart,

‘Above all, what shines through is the incredible destiny of a magnificent chamber group which, despite the incessant discriminations due to the Jewish origin of some of its members, would become, world-wide and for decades, the most prestigious symbol of the Russian school of quartet playing.’
‘Enriched by numerous annexes and a discography, this book throws new light, remarkably well documented, on both an individual and a collective experience, undoubtedly unique in the history of the string quartet.
Patrick Szersnovicz, Diapason No.640

‘Siberian childhood, musical apprenticeship in Moscow, war, the funeral of Stalin, greatness and subjugation, exceptional figures, tours abroad, requirements, success, advice from Shostakovich in person, all are abundantly reproduced here, but also ethics, pedagogy and thoughts on the profession. Certainly the most captivating document on the art of interpretation that we have seen in the last several years.
Frédéric Gaussin, Lettre du musicien No.462

An enchanting read, limited copies available in paperback.

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Author’s Preface
Publisher’s Note
Family and Childhood
Moscow Central Music School
Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory
Birth of a Quartet
Beginnings – First Appearances at Moscow Conservatory
Ethics and Ideals – Moscow Philharmonic Quartet
Stabilising the Quartet
Borodin Quartet on the Road
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich
Like a Phoenix from the Ashes
On Leadership
On Teaching
On Audiences, On Russia
David Oistrakh
On Criticism – Mstislav Rostropovich
On Sviatoslav Richter – on Family
In Praise of Examples
Anatoly Zverev
Yevgeny Fyodorovich Svetlanov
Valentin Berlinsky by Family and Friends
Ludmila Berlinskaya
Dmitri Shebaline
Irina Antonova
Rostislav Bourkine
Natalia Shakhovskaya
Notes on Contributors
Index of Names
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