Nikolay Lugansky: "Azerbaijan has wonderful musical traditions"

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Nikolay Lugansky: "Azerbaijan has wonderful musical traditions"

Last Sunday, the soloist of the Moscow State Philharmonic Society, national artist and laureate of the State Prize of Russia, pianist Nikolai Lugansky performed in Baku within the framework of the Days of Russian Culture in Azerbaijan. He shared his impressions with Vestnik Kavkaza.

- What is it like to perform with the Azerbaijan Symphony Orchestra?

- I performed with this orchestra for the first time. Given that we had only one rehearsal, I must say: everybody did great job and the maestro is wonderful. Overall, I am satisfied.

- Many expected that you, as the head of the Rachmaninov festival, will perform Rachmaninov. Why was Prokofiev chosen?

- I offered [the organizers] several concerts: Brahms, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov. The choice fell on Concerto No. 2 by Sergei Prokofiev. And the encore was Rachmaninov.

- You performed in the hall named after Muslim Magomaev, who is considered the founder of Azerbaijani classical music, the grandfather of the well-known Muslim Magomaev...

- In general, Azerbaijan has wonderful musical traditions. Beautiful composers worked here - Kara Karaev, Fikret Amirov. I was in Baku in 1988. Since then, everything has changed a lot, but still it's a wonderful city with great traditions. For example, the orchestra I played with - they perform a variety of music, have different styles.

- What do you think about the future of classical music? It is believed that it is becoming less popular. What needs to be done to popularize classical music?

- I do not think that it's becoming less popular. If we compare how much Schubert or Schumann earned back then with how much the performers of their music earn now, how many people attend concerts, it will become clear that more people listen to classical music today than in the 18th-19th centuries. Much depends on the country, on the place, but while a huge mass of people can make a living at this, it’s ridiculous to talk about a decline in its popularity.

We just need to familiarize children with music, because they listen to some nonsense on the radio, TV and the Internet. They need to be able to listen to beautiful music at an early age - Mozart, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and not the one associated with very high noise levels and a simple rhythm. People should be familiarized with music at a very young age, then the classics will have more listeners.

- You put forward the idea of conducting classical music lessons in secondary schools. Will this help to popularize classics?

- Of course it will help. Classical music is aimed at one person. It is not necessary to seek an audience of hundreds of thousands, millions. If with the help of these lessons a few more people begin to listen to the classics, then it would be an excellent result. Getting a feel for such an art at the age of seven is much easier than at forty. We should give children the opportunity to listen to the classics, give them at least minimal explanations. Although those who are born with a love of music will begin to listen to it without any explanations.

- You have been teaching at the conservatory for many years. What is the current state of music education?

- I teach minimally - as an assistant professor. I do not have my own class, so it is difficult to draw conclusions. The piano level in Moscow has always been very high. Even if I get to the conservatory once a month, I’m always interested to listen to someone. Maybe the level of violinists was a little higher once. Perhaps the level of woodwinds has become higher now. Everything changes. But Moscow remains one of the centers of world music education.

- Do you have a feeling that the center has shifted to Asia in recent years?

- But this is not because Europe is worse. It’s just that Chinese, Korean, and Japanese musicians took a huge step forward, including in terms of mass education.

- Classics is the trend there now?

- I do not think that it's just a trend. 15-20 years ago it could be called trend. Then it was believed that there are very strong performers in Asia, but not deep enough in musical terms. But this is not the case now. Already the second, third generation of musicians live in classics. In addition to virtuosos and professionals, there are very deep musicians. Now it is the most important region in the world for classical music.