Death of a great pianist and academic teacher

With the passing of Dmitri Aleksandrovich Bashkirov, the world of music has lost one of its most outstanding personages.

Dmitri Aleksandrovich Bashkirov, who ranked among the great pianists of the Russian School and the most outstanding academic piano teachers of our time, died recently at the age of 89. The French newspaper Le Figaro mentioned his love of detail and his attention to sound construction, while the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recalled with enthusiasm his first recordings and his “incredible mastering” of the piano.

Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 1 November 1931, Dmitri Bashkirov studied in Moscow with Alexander Goldenweiser, a friend and former fellow student of Sergei Rachmaninov. A laureate of the Marguerite Long Piano Competition in 1955, he performed with great ensembles in Europe and the US (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Chicago Symphony Orchestra) under such conductors as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta and Wolfgang Sawallisch. His passion, however, was piano teaching and he numbered among his pupils Arcadi Volodos, Boris Bloch, Nikolai Demidenko and Kirill Gerstein, who rank now among the great contemporary pianists.

In his endeavor to provide the best learning conditions for his students, Dmitri Bashkirov collaborated with C. Bechstein for many years. In 2012, for example, he gave a notable master class together with pianist Cristian Niculescu, stating: “I love this piano so much that I would like to take it with me as a carry-on.” After the closing concert, he wrote in Bechstein’s guest book: “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for having given me the opportunity to present talented young pianists to the public. The event reminds me of the concert I gave in this location several years ago, also playing a Bechstein grand. I wish the greatest possible success to the C. Bechstein company and all those who contribute to the brand’s fame the world over.”

Dmitri Bashkirov leaves a rich artistic heritage that shall live on in his former pupils and the pianists he inspired.