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The thorny path of Maria Gambaryan

personalities : The thorny path of Maria Gambaryan
Maria Gambaryan is a highly gifted pianist with a delicate artistic taste, singing sound, artistic temperament and magnificent virtuoso data. ”Lev Oborin

Maria Stepanovna Gambaryan was born in Yerevan. Her parents, hereditary intellectuals, were from Tiflis. Both of them were scientists. Maria’s father was engaged in chemistry, mother - in botany. Intelligent, well-read, cultured and versatile people, they created in their house a wonderful atmosphere in which the future beautiful pianist was born and raised.

The content of the article

    • Childhood of Maria Gambaryan
    • Life difficulties
  • Studying with Igumnov
      • Again in Moscow
    • Leningrad
  • Repertoire
    • Educational activities

Childhood of Maria Gambaryan

Maria Gambaryan recalls her childhood as a very bright and joyful time. The house was very fond of music, among the relatives there were many professional musicians, the mother also played the piano beautifully. From an early age, the girl was taken to concerts, where she received her first musical impressions, forever preserved in her memory.

Ability to music with Mary showed up at an early age. However, her first musical studies were not very regular and did not bring much benefit. But at nine, the girl entered a music school - and since then, music has firmly taken the main place in her life. Innate artistry, full contact with the audience, the ability to tune the hall to its own “wave” - all these amazing qualities of Mary manifested themselves in the first years of study at a music school. The girl did a lot of work and made huge strides. For two years, she was able to complete the entire curriculum of the school curriculum.

The next stage of musical education of Maria Gambaryan was the Central Music School at the Moscow Conservatory. At the entrance exam, the girl’s game liked the commission so much that she was invited to choose a teacher for herself. In those years, the Central Music School was just beginning to exist, Neygauz, Igumnov, Goldenweiser taught at the piano department - amazing musicians and great teachers that any student dreamed of getting to ... And Maria chose Abram Vladimirovich Shatskes, a family friend, a person she knew, and which was very attached. And the girl never regretted her choice. Shatskes was an excellent musician, and he taught a lot to the young pianist.

The girl was engaged with great pleasure and dedication. Every morning, Mary spent several hours at the instrument - and then went to classes. The atmosphere of the Central Music School was joyful and creative, and the spirit of rivalry only motivated young musicians to further accomplishments.

Life difficulties

The events of 1937-38 greatly affected the life of Maria Gambaryan. Father was arrested and repressed, mother lost her job. Soon the family was nowhere to live.

School helped out. A hot participation in the fate of Mary's family was taken by her teacher A.V. Shatskes - at one time the girl and her mother even lived in his apartment. The school gave the girl a scholarship, helped her mother get a new job, and later - provided them with a room in a conservative dormitory. Maria Gambaryan recalls these years as a turning point in her mind.

And then the war began ...

The girl was again in Yerevan, in her homeland. She was accepted to the school at the conservatory, where she took exams externally, and devoted the rest of the time to reading fiction, historical and philosophical literature. The first year in Yerevan was almost inactive. And in 1942 Igumnov arrived. Maria got the opportunity to study at the conservatory, while passing exams for the last classes of the music school. The girl woke up the previous musical enthusiasm and thirst for activity.

Konstantin Nikolaevich Igumnov, beloved teacher, whose school Maria Gambaryan carried through her whole life

Studying with Igumnov

All her life, Maria Gambaryan recalled Igumnov with enthusiasm and great love. And in his youth, studying with him was a huge joy for the girl. Every day she discovered a lot of new things, communicating with her teacher. Igumnov’s directness, spiritual purity and warmth warmed everyone who was next to him. These qualities were manifested not only in the life of Konstantin Nikolaevich, but also in his pianistic and pedagogical activities.

Maria Gambaryan immediately established trusting and simple relations with Igumnov, she understood him perfectly, and in the lessons they almost always coincided in their sense of music. During the year of study, the girl went through many serious works. And in the summer Igumnov returned to Moscow. Maria moved to the composer's faculty, was fond of composing music, not forgetting to polish her pianistic technique.

Again in Moscow

Six months later, Maria Gambaryan again appeared in Moscow - at the festival of Armenian art, along with a large group of artists. After speaking in a Tchaikovsky hall with a specially learned program, the girl decided not to return to Yerevan. She stayed in Moscow, despite the lack of conditions. Igumnov helped her, took her to his class at the Moscow Conservatory.

Studying in Moscow was difficult due to life circumstances. For four years, the girl was torn between Moscow and Yerevan, where the rehabilitated, seriously ill father lived.

In 1948, Maria lost her father, and Igumnov soon died. The girl realized that only vigorous activity can get her out of severe depression. And at the cost of great effort, she externally graduated from the conservatory.

Relations between Maria Gambaryan and Heinrich Gustavovich Neigauz were warm, but not easy

Learning from Neuhaus

The next stage in the life of Maria Gambaryan was postgraduate studies at Neigauz. The pedagogy of Neuhaus was polar different from Igumnov’s. At first, Maria really liked his lessons. Bright, inspirational, emotional, real artistic performances. Neigauz liked figurative comparisons, constantly quoted musicians, artists, poets, philosophers, his lessons were always attended by students.

But after some time, as Maria herself recalls, between her and Neuhaus "Igumnov’s shadow arose." It was difficult for the girl to agree with the interpretations of Neuhaus; the intelligent and deep play of the former teacher was too lively for her.

I was drawn into the bosom of my old department. I went home to Neuhaus to talk about it. Neygauz suggested to think, consult with mom. At the end of my visit, he sat at the piano. Played an intermezzo Brahms. Wonderful! I listened and thought: “You have to be a perfect idiot to get away from such a musician.”

After much hesitation, the girl nevertheless returned to her old department, completed postgraduate studies at Oborin.


The next few years, Maria Gambaryan was a soloist of the Leningrad Philharmonic and a teacher of the Leningrad Conservatory. Living an independent musical life was surprisingly difficult. While Maria studied with Igumnov, music was perceived by her very easily and almost intuitively. She quickly understood what Igumnov wanted from her, easily fulfilled the tasks set by the teacher, and the teacher was pleased with her.

Now she had to learn a new repertoire on her own. And, the most difficult thing is to explain all this to students.

The experience gained over the years of work in Leningrad turned out to be immeasurably important for Maria Gambaryan. She was surrounded by good people and talented musicians, each of whom could learn a lot. The beginning of pedagogical activity contributed to a deeper understanding of music, a generalization of rational and emotional musical experience. Explaining to others, Maria Gambaryan herself better understood many of the subtleties of piano performance.

However, Gambaryan was never able to feel “her” in Leningrad. As soon as she was offered to return to Moscow and teach at the Gnesins Academy, she immediately agreed.

Until now, Maria Gambaryan is a teacher in the piano department at the Russian Academy of Music.

Maria Gambaryan’s repertoire is very diverse and wide.


During her studies, Maria Gambaryan played mainly the music of romantic composers. Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt - the works of these composers were "inherited" by the pianist from her teacher, Igumnov. Like Igumnov, she perfectly felt the musical "gut" of these compositions, it was easy for her to achieve performing expressiveness and truthfulness.

After moving to Leningrad, Gambaryan had to expand his repertoire, to choose works himself. She played Scarlatti sonatas, French music for harpsichord, Prelude, Arioso and Fughetta by Onegger, plays by Messian, Pulenok, Sati, was fond of modern composers: Batsevich, Gubaidulina.

From year to year Gambaryan played the works of Chopin. Serious acquaintance with his music took place during his studies at the conservatory, but even in the "adult" concert life, Maria Gambaryan did not part with his works. Now she says so about this composer:

Now I can say that I really love him. There is no greater happiness for me than playing Chopin at an average pace, listening to all the voices, creating from them the harmony of the whole. Each intonation of Chopin's melody penetrates the depths of my soul, responds with deep gratitude for every bend of the melody, for each modulation.

Bach Gambaryan loves music since childhood. In the years of study, she did not have to play much of it, only a few works under the supervision of Igumnov. But then, having caught the expressive and free performance of Bach's music by Gould, Maria Gambaryan prepared a whole program of works by this composer.

Maria Gambaryan boldly took on music of all styles. She played ancient music on the harpsichord, gave cycles of concerts dedicated to Beethoven sonatas, turned to the works of Prokofiev and other Soviet composers. Often performed music by Komitas.

It seems to me that a professionally savvy pianist is subject to all styles. A pianist can and should try his hand in all styles. Knowing the stylistic features of the era and the work of this composer, he will love the performed work. It will seem to him that there is nothing better than this music. The personality of the omnivorous performer will not suffer. If he has his own intonation, his own voice, this will manifest itself in all styles.

Continuous live communication with students helps Maria Gambaryan maintain her sincere youth

Educational activities

Maria Gambaryan never regretted that pedagogy in her life occupied a much larger part than performing. Gambaryan says that by teaching others, she learns a lot herself, each passage of a work for her is a discovery. For almost half a century now she has been constantly communicating with young people. And she herself remains young in her soul. With interest discusses with students concerts, performances, life issues. And in the lessons, he not only conveys the basics of his piano school to students, but also tries to listen to the individuality of each student.

Most of all I love when the student has an intuitive mind. It is as if he still knows nothing about the style, nor about the phrase, nor about the form, but feels right. This property is the most valuable, in my opinion. But even in this case, it is important that the student knows what it consists of. I try to explain and summarize. Previously, I did not always succeed.

Over the years of teaching, many students passed through the hands of Maria Gambaryan. All these are completely different people, emotional and calm, talented and incapable, consonant with her soul and infinitely far from her. Friendship has been preserved with someone for life; someone has disappeared without a trace. But it is thanks to them that Maria Gambaryan has where to draw vitality and musical strength from.

Maria Gambaryan says that she herself is very pleased with her life. Her path in art was very complicated, life circumstances did not allow her to unfold in the full force of her performing talent. She failed to pass the “political cordon” because of her repressed father - the path to great art was closed.

But she does not regret anything. There are always a lot of youth around her, a lot of music, a lot of enthusiasm and love ...

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