Konstantin Nikolayevich Igumnov — doctor of arts, laureate of USSR State Prize, holder of the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, People’s artist of USSR, professor of Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory — is undoubtedly a unique figure of world art. His contemporaries know him as a person of rear charm and generosity, a person of real subtlety of soul and high culture, they remember him as an original and distinctive performer and as a gifted teacher.
Igumnov’s concert career lasted for more than 50 years. Almost 50 years were sacrificed to educating the young.
130 years passed since the day when a boy, predestined to be a future founder of a world-known piano school, which would be defined as “Igumnov’s School” was born on the 1st of May, 1873, in a small provincial town Lebedyan (nowadays one of the cities of Lipetsk region) to a family of merchants. In Lebedyan Konstantin spent the years of his childhood and youth. His first piano lessons he received from his home tutor A. F. Meyer.
“Lebedyan was a very important period in my life, the time which became a basis of my future development and which imprinted on my tastes and conceptions.”
Konstantin’s musical progress made his parents send their 14-year-old son to Moscow to his first instructor N.S. Zverev, Tchaikovsky’s student and a talented teacher himself who also taught S. Rakhmaninov and A. Scryabin.
Since 1888 Igumnov took lessons from A.I. Ziloty (F. Liszt’s student) in Moscow Conservatory. After Ziloty left the Conservatory, Igumnov continued his education with P.A. Pabst.
The marble Board of Honour, installed in Moscow Conservatory, contains among other graduates of the year 1894 the name of a pianist K.N. Igumnov.
After taking part in Rubinstein Competition in Berlin in 1895 he kept playing on tour numerous successful performances.
Since 1899 till the end of his days Igumnov was a professor of Moscow Conservatory. In 1924 he had become its rector, but he decided to retire from this post in 1929, as he was not fond of administration.
Igumnov’s studio was always appealing for talented youth. Among his students were such prominent artists of the past as N. Orlov, M. Grindberg, A. Babadjanyan, the first Soviet laureates of international competitions L. Oborin and J. Flier. Among those Igumnov’s students who are still with us are N. Shtarkman, M. Gambaryan, O. Boshnyakovich, T. Amiradjibi, E. Timakin. They recall Konstantin Nikolayevich Igumnov not only as a man of an indisputable authority, but also as a beloved teacher — attentive, kind and demanding at the same time. Igumnov’s student P. Romanovsky recollects: “Konstantin Nikolayevich showed us the world of inimitable sounds and we tried to comprehend and grasp this enchanted world”. One can be confused by sometimes contrasting difference between Igumnov’s disciples. But there is a thing which unites them — it is their reverence for music.
Igumnov-pianist became a part of the world piano history as one of the most profound and original interpreters of Russian and international classics. L. Oborin: “Igumnov’s preferences for performing were quite clearly defined and stable. “His authors” were Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt.” But the most memorable performances for the pianists contemporaries were those in which Igumnov played Russian piano classics and first of all Tchaikovsky works. “It is correct to say that it was Igumnov who revived in concert practice many compositions of the great Russian author. Igumnov’s manner, full of simplicity, nobility and prudence suited Tchaikovsky’s music better than anything” (J. Milstein).
Being a successor of the best Russian performance traditions with regards to discovering the composer’s message and paying attention to his inner world, Igumnov enchanted his listeners by beautiful sounds of his piano, which demonstrated all the intonations of a human voice under his hands, and also by the intimacy of his playing. “Whatever concert hall was chosen for his performance, a small or a huge one, one always had and impression of music going “from heart to heart””. (M. Grindberg)
In 1945 Doctor of Atrs K.N. Igumnov was awarded Lenin Prize. In 1946 he was awarded USSR State Prize and title of People’s Artist of USSR. But being a renown artist and teacher he remained a very modest person. “In his green years and in his mature period of life, he always manifested itself as a man of intense labour and constant search”. (J. Milstein)
In summer of 1947 K.N. Igumnov played his last concert for the citizens of his native town Lebedyan. On December the 3rd of the same year he played his last concert in the Big Hall of Moscow Conservatory. On the 24th of March, 1948 Konstantin Nikolayevich Igumnov died.
More than a half of a century expired from the date of his death. One cannot underestimate the significance of Igumnov’s as a pianist and as a teacher for world piano music and for music as a whole.
For all his life Igumnov performed on stage and taught the young — his students became a constellation of excellent performers — he really and truly devoted all his life to people and, to the art. We will always remember the name of this man with love and gratefulness.
“...You should have seen children's faces beaming with happiness! The Lipetsk regional administration and its culture department arrange the festival and contest which uplift children both ethically and aesthetically. I wish that the organizers would keep searching for young gifted professionals with all their inexaustible energy. And the Russian land is rich in talents...” >>> reviews...
Project author: Olga Khrustaleva, 1993—2004 г.