A researcher at the piano | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 20.03.2012
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A researcher at the piano

24-year old Levit is already touted by critics to be tomorrow's global star. But, the praise doesn't appear to matter to him.

Der Pianist Igor Levit fasst sich am 23.02.2012 in Hannover an seine Brille. Experten sehen in Levit einen künftigen Weltstar. Der 24-jährige deutsche Künstler mit russisch-jüdischen Wurzeln ist vor kurzem als eines von sechs Talenten zum BBC New Generation Artist ernannt worden. Foto: Barbora Prekopova dpa/lni (zu lni 0464 vom 01.03.2012)

Pianist Igor Levit

Igor Levit plays the piano powerfully. The 24-year old's technique is brilliant.

"I have been making music ever since I can remember (and) it is completely normal to me, it's the most natural thing in the world," he said.

Every note the young piano virtuoso plays, has meaning. His confidence exudes that of Beethoven.

A researcher at the piano

Playing Beethoven's 5th Symphony five nights in a row is not an easy task. It is a challenge for any pianist – technically demanding, intense and emotionally challenging. Igor Levit was able to do it. He performed four concerts with the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra, directed by Conductor Andrey Boreiko.

Those who have been lucky enough to watch Levit perform can see that he is a researcher at the piano – always looking for new ways to craft his talent. Last year, Levit graduated from the musical conservatory at Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media with the highest score in its history.

"He will be a global star one day," his former lecturer Bernd Goetzke said.

The eager student

Igor Levit was born in 1987 on the Volga River in Nizhny Novgorod (then Gorky), Russia. His mother is a piano teacher. She taught Levit music. He arrived in Germany as an eight year old. His family went to Hanover, a German city popular with young musicians. Nearby Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media offers the crème de la crème of European music tutorship.

An image of Ludwig van Beethoven

Levit loves Beethoven's works

For Levit, Hanover became the starting point, and at the time he wanted to meet Swedish pianist and philosopher Hans Leygraf.

"Leygraf offered for me to be one of his younger students," the 24 year-old said.

Leygraf, who died last year, was half German and Austrian. He had his first performance with the Stockholm Philharmonic at the age of nine. Levit calls him, the "wonderful Hans Leygraf."

"We were driving from Hanover to Salzburg – totally crazy," he added.

At some point, the travel became unbearable because he was still attending school. Back in Hanover, he studied with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Matti Raekallio and Bernd Goetzke.

"One is never perfect technically, one is always learning," Levit said, reiterating his motto and desire to continually learn new techniques.

Obsessed with German

Igor Levit is bilingual, but he prefers to speak German rather than his native language. He believes Russian is an asset. Still, he neither wants to be defined as Russian, nor German.

"I am invariably of Jewish descent, born in Russia, with roots in Germany. A pianist in love with Europe," he added.

Nevertheless, the young pianist believes his interpretation of Beethoven is unthinkable without a deep commitment to the German language.

"The fact that I feel I have arrived in this country is first and foremost due to the language," he said. "Even as a young boy, it awakened emotions that I cannot describe."

Igor Levit feels at home in Hanover

Igor Levit feels at home in Hanover

Sound recordings of the young rising star are rare. He clearly prefers live performances. Levit is a music enthusiast embroiled in his work. He could play Beethoven's Diabelli Variations four times a day and always discover something new, he said .

As a soloist, Levit does not feel isolated. Still, he would never believe someone who says things like "music is where I feel most at home." That is because home is definitely in Hanover – where his family and friends are. Being grounded in reality is important for Levit.

Author: Anastassia Boutsko / cc
Editor: Jessie Wingard

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