Behind the scene stories of the Classical Music world. The birth of first sounds and note lines.
The Backstage of concerts and rehersals hidden from the ordinary eye.
Mstislav Rostropovich, Yuri Bashmet, Daniel Barenboim, Gidon Kremer, Vladimir Spivakov,
Yuri Temirkanov, Valery Guergiev, Evgeny Kissin, Nicolaus Harnoncour, Marta Argerich, Vladimir Askenasi, Vadim Repin, Denis Mazuev, Yo-Yo Ma, Sofia Gubaidulina, Arvo Part, Leonid Desiatnikov,
Giya Kanchelly, Natalia Gutman, Christof Echenbach, Mikhail Pletnev, Genadi Rojdestvensky ...
My grandmother from Baku was a well brought up young girl from a respectable family and she thought that «a day without music is a day lost !» That’s why she spent her money on music lessons for her six children. They were gifted and patient and everybody (except for my freedom-loving mother) conscientiously studied to play violins, cellos, pianos and the harp.
Then they began to find themselves husbands and wives who were also musically gifted, and their children inherited their love of music.
I grew up in a very musical family which consisted of a cellist, three pianists, two violinists and two harpists. All my uncles and aunts, their children, their friends and their friends’ children were musicians, everybody, except for my mother and me.
When i was a girl i found it very advantageous to have a lot of free time and to get my knees dirty. I investigated the world by playing football with friends in the backyards of Baku, while my diligent family practiced music, rehearsed and sweated (in summer it is 40°C in Baku) over the notes. However, they sometimes took me with them to the rehearsals and put me into the orchestra pit.
I began to become familiar with the goings on of the Baku operas and conservatories, and even now I hear the sounds of the Azerbaijani symphonic orchestra, headed by the elegant maestro Niyazi.
I lived near music, but outside it. I heard it with my eyes.
When I decided to be a painter it closed my way into the backstage of musical life. But it was not for long.
One day I got a phone call, it was Valery Afanasyev who brought some contraband black caviar from my careful mother, to me, a recent emigrant working as a picture restorer in Paris. Afanasyev being a friend of my musical uncle was also a musician ! He was famous, talanted, easy going, fun and full of aestheticism. We quickly became friends and ate this caviar together. When Afanasyev knew that I wasn’t really interested in music, he immediately brought me to a violin concert in Paris. « The Berg Concerto » made an instant impression upon me. The violinist extorted heart-rending sounds from his violin while at the same time, he danced on the stage and tore off the broken strings from the bow (as I later became aware, the horsehair does not support the bow’s force of friction on the violin strings and breaks). The violonist showed just how powerful music can be.
Behind the scenes, the violin magician turned into a timid, tired but hearty young man (he was only forty-five years old) in a white cloak. He invited everybody to a housewarming party and appealingly did not pronounce « R ».
The following day :
- How do you do, Gidon ! This is Alexandra. I’m calling on behalf of Afanasyev to find out your address.
- Rue de Chavreska. When you enter the house, press the interphone button with my surname.
- Excuse me … and what is your surname ?
- Don’t you know my surname !!!!!????
So one more misician came into my life ! The best !
He filled my nonmusical ears with the sounds of violins, trombones, kettle-drums, trumpets and bells. His musical environment had become my place of residence for a stormy fifteen years. As I hear music with my eyes, the Leica camera I received as a gift from Gidon became my faithful helper in this LIFE MUSIC. This LIFE was no bed of roses at all.
I ran through walls trying to photograph musicians, constantly looking for them before the rehearsals and concerts convincing them that I would take their photos in the midst of fortissimo only, and that I would make sure I never disturb them at least two hours before a concert - only after.
I had to fly from one continent to another and because of those endless flights, I began to forget the city I just arrived from and hence had problems claiming my luggage. I experienced lengthy and painful conversations with local taxi-drivers; where the concert hall was, where the maestro was rehearsing, who this maestro is. I had to discover where the «Artist’s entrance» was and swear to the securityman that the pass had been already reserved, then run through the backstage passages stoping in terror realizing that this labyrinth is ending on the stage while the rehearsals had already begun.
I hid among the double basses and pretend not to see the harpist who was hissing with rage, standing on one foot behind the door. I had to hang from the second tier in order to get into the best position hoping that something wouldn't fall during the quietest moment of the concerto while hating myself because I took only one film with me and it finished, bag back stage, and just at this moment the maestro was playing pizzicato dolcissimo…
I did all that because there is only one thing that the quick ears of the musicians hate more than anything else, that ruins the harmony of their musical life and after which they do not let you visit their rehearsals – to click the shutter of the camera ! I photographed them in order to eternally capture the passion, the delight, the rapture, the indignation and the love on their inspired faces, and to feel and to experience the highs and lows, and the ecsatsy of the body and soul which is called MUSIC.