Anatol Ugorski

'It is not sufficient to strike a match; I need to know why it burns.' - Anatol Ugorski

Pianist Anatol Ugorski was born into a poor family in Rubtsovsk, Russia on 28 September 1942. He studied with Nadezhda Gouloubovskaia at the Conservatory of Leningrad and attracted attention because of his interpretation of avant-garde music - Berg, Boulez, Messiaen and Schoenberg.

From 1968, for more than ten years, his career was effectively halted when, after applauding Pierre Boulez too vigorously during the Frenchman's tour to Leningrad, it was thought that he was subversive and politically unreliable because of his too-modern an approach to music. His punishment was to work as choirmaster of an unimportant youth choir.

From 1982 he was finally able to work as a professor at the St Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, where his students included Classical Music Daily contributor Halida Dinova.

In early 1990 his sixteen-year-old pianist daughter Dina Ugorskaja began to suffer savage antisemitic attacks from supporters of the nationalist organisation 'Pamyat'.  Because of this, the Ugorski family decided to escape to East Berlin, living in a refugee camp for several months and finally settling in Detmold, Germany.

The following year, Anatol Ugorski recorded his first album for Deutsche Grammophon - Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, and was offered an exclusive contract. In 1992 his international career took off, with spectacular concerts at the Milan Conservatory and the Vienna Festival, and he began performing with major orchestras such as the Czech Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

As a performer, he was interested in the entire range of music literature. Until 2007 he taught at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold and was a juror for Munich's ARD International Music Competition.

Anatol Ugorski died in Detmold, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany on 5 September 2023, aged eighty.


A selection of articles about Anatol Ugorski

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