Valentin Berlinsky – A Quartet for Life by Maria Matalaev


The compiled memoirs of Valentin Berlinsky, cellist with the Borodin Quartet for more than six decades.

Foreword 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

On so many levels, this is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read: a history of the legendary Borodin Quartet. Furthermore, it’s a memoir of the extraordinary talent among both teachers and students of the Moscow Conservatory in the 1940s (Shostakovich, David Oistrakh and Rostropovich just some of the most famous); and perhaps most intriguing of all – a candid portrait of the Borodin’s long-standing cellist, Valentin Berlinsky.
Daniel Jaffé, BBC Music Magazine, February 2019

‘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

‘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,

‘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

‘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, published in paperback and supplemented with tributes from family and friends with an extensive annexure giving every performance, broadcast and recording made by the Borodin Quartet.

Reviews (0)


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Valentin Berlinsky – A Quartet for Life by Maria Matalaev”
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
Vendor Info

Vendor Information

  • Store Name: Kahn & Averill
  • Vendor: Kahn and Averill
  • Address: 2-10 Plantation Road
    HP6 6HJ
  • No ratings found yet!
More Products

Listening through the lens by Christopher Nupen (with sampler DVD)

£30.00 Sold by: Kahn and Averill

The official autobiography from BAFTA award-winning film maker, Christopher Nupen, director of The Trout – one of the most watched classical music films.

Foreword by Vladimir Ashkenazy


Violin & Viola by Yehudi Menuhin and William Primrose

£19.95 Sold by: Kahn and Averill

Yehudi Menuhin was indisputably one of the finest violinists of all time, with a technique that was the envy of


Cello by William Pleeth

£19.95 Sold by: Kahn and Averill

Foreword by Jacqueline du Pré

My Viola and I | Lionel Tertis

My Viola and I by Lionel Tertis

£19.95 Sold by: Kahn and Averill

My Viola and I explores the history of the viola and music making during the late nineteenth century and early