Interview on TV7 channel (Kharkov, Ukraine, January 2005)
WJ: – Journalist (woman)
MJ: – Journalist (man)
MM: – Maria Mirovska
MJ: Always at this time a visitor appears. In our opinion both beautiful, and also very interesting visitor. Good morning. At us on a visit Maria Mirovska, the pianist, Kharkov-born, now lives and works in Moscow, far from her native land.
WJ: Today, on January, 21, 2005, and tomorrow, on January, 22, in the Kharkov philharmonic society her concerts will take place. Well and we have remarkable occasion to talk to her and to get acquainted little bit closer.
MJ: Concerts begin at six p.m.?
MM: Yes, quite right.
MJ: Maria, tell us, how do you think, why such injustice to people who rise early, and go to sleep early? All concerts for some reason pass traditionally in the evening. Is it a historical heritage of a bohemian way of life and elite?
MM: Yes, certainly, Alexander. I think that this tradition has historical roots. Recently in Europe the idea of “matinee” - morning concerts which begin not earlier than 10 o'clock in the morning has appeared. Musicians are mostly “late” people; wake up not always early because concerts usually come to an end after 9 or 10 p.m. The idea of morning concerts seems to me very good because they are quite well perceived, children like to visit them, and it seems to me, that in the near future we will also hear such “morning performances” of music.
MJ: We'll also visit them, as the most important children of our city.
WJ: Do you wake up early in the morning? When does your morning begin?
MM: Differently. After a concert it doesn't begin early. In usual life it is possible to rise earlier. Morning is the best time for practicing.
MJ: By the way now together with our conversation your music sounds. As far as I understand, piano music is the most suitable for morning. What do you listen in the morning ? Piano music too?
MM: Not always. Sometimes it is music for strings, I listen to music of different composers. Sometimes I prefer not to listen to any music in the morning. Later, at the midday ripens a desire to listen to music and to play myself. Therefore it's so difficult to tell, though as it seems to me, it is possible to say that “morning” music is the music of Viennese classicism: it charges with pleasure and vivacity. Though the choice is personally different. Some people meet new day with contemporary music. Everyone chooses for himself. There is such huge amount of music even if we talk only about classical music. In Kharkov philharmonic society there is a good system of subscriptions (abonnements): everybody can choose for himself any certain theme.
MJ: Do they have abonnements (subscriptions) in Moscow?
MM: Certainly they do. The idea of subscriptions is magnificent, because the person can thematically choose what is interesting to him, to visit concerts the whole season and to meet “friends”-composers and “friends”-musicians.
WJ: For some reason it seems to me, that piano playing is similar to studying of Japanese language on complexity. Such amount of remarkable music for piano exists, that for all life, likely, the pianist cannot play it all. Am I mistaken?
MM: You are right, Katya. The matter is that piano repertoire, likely, is the biggest (hope musicians of other specialties will not take offence at me). So has developed, that for a piano a lot of original music has been written and also there are many arrangements of other compositions, including orchestral works. Piano music is considered the most volumetric, there is no such pianist who would play absolutely all of it.
MJ: How does a pianist define what to play?
MM: Differently. There is a situation when for concert performance the certain pieces are ordered. And if the pianist has an opportunity to choose pieces for concert itself, perhaps every musician has his own favorites. Preferences are formed during study.
MJ: And by the way, whether the pianist has often an opportunity to choose repertoire by himself, or the situation chooses?
MM: As a rule, they order special compositions because there are a lot of pianists, and the manager organizing a concert can choose from 10 pianists with the same repertoire. To listen to the rare-played composition, they address to pianists, and pianists have an opportunity to learn new compositions, to perform new music anybody before did not hear.
WJ: Are there such composers whose music is not absolutely convenient for you or difficult very much in the virtuoso sense?
MJ: In general, are there composers who are difficult basically?
WJ: Composers who can be considered: if you performed their pieces you become a virtuoso.
MM: Yes, there is such a moment. As to technological convenience, composers, who were pianists themselves, had the most convenient way of composition. They understood this instrument and how it was the best way to write for piano, and how music on this instrument will sound better. Such composers, who are considered not so convenient for performing (Tchaikovsky, Beethoven for example), had their compositions full of difficult facture (Beethoven - even in comparison with Mozart and Haydn, his contemporaries). Inconvenience is a disputable question because if the pianist plays these authors he starts to understand essence of their language. When a musician will catch this essence, the task becomes much easier. The problem of inconvenience disappears. I have a personal experience in it. Really, when you start to think as the composer did, to live with his music, technical difficulties disappear, and there is a dialogue with music, with the author. It's incredibly interesting, both dialogue with music of old masters, and dialogue with the new authors, new composers.
WJ: What is more difficult: to perform classical piece well or to improvise well?
MM: Certainly, it depends on personality. First thing it's easier to somebody, second thing to someone another. But, certainly, classical pieces in strict understanding of this word (when we talk about music before XIX century), are more difficult to perform than any serious modern music. Everybody marks this. Maybe it happens because we are not contemporaries of classics; if we lived that time, it would be easier to play that music. For us it's much more complicated to keep sense of style and cleanliness in ancient pieces than in modern.
MJ: So, one can't improvise in classics?
MM: Yes, it is possible, in cadenzas.
MJ: Well, I see. Woman-pianist is not a rarity, how do you think why there are no any women-composers writing for piano?
MM: Alexander, this is a hard question. There are women-composers. A question is complicated because more likely it concerns to area of psychology, of studying the human qualities. There is remarkable composer Sofia Gubaydullina who writes, in particular, also for a piano. She is the contemporary and the colleague of such authors, as Alfred Schnittke and Edison Denisov, who are gone already. But for some reason she always remained a little bit in a shadow for general public. Professional musicians know her very well. In Kharkov there are such good women-composers, as Donnik, Drobyazgina. They write fine pieces, but for some reason their creativity always remains in a shadow of creativity of men. Possibly, it has historical roots: during old times musicians were did not divided professionally as composers and performers. The musician was both the composer, and the multi-instrumental performer. I mean a XVII-XVIII centuries epoch, and even XIX century. Women, who were making music at that time, played in domestic conditions more often. Clara Schumann, the pianist and the composer, was one of the first who became professional musician, only men became professionals before that.
MJ: I See, that absence of women-composers is only the absence of them in mass media. I am a TV child. Mum and dad have fed me, dressed me, and TV has brought me up. I can name not more than two or three pianists: Richter, Van Cliburn, and Horowitz. And were actually the pianists-virtuosos more than those three?
MM: Yes, there were more of them, it is a lot of them, and we even can't name them all. But I can tell you who my favorite pianists are. By the way, Alexander, I should mention that perhaps it was not your fault, that you know a few pianists. Most likely, it was fault of that TV about which you spoke. We, unfortunately, do not have channel broadcasting mostly classical music alongside with modern. You do not have opportunity to compare. And you will not see advertising of pianists in editions or on the TV. My favorite pianists are Vladimir Horowitz, Glenn Gould, and Arthur Rubinstein.
MJ: All these names for me are unknown, unless Horowitz. Nevertheless… …
MM: Arthur Schnabel — the remarkable Austrian pianist, played mostly all Beethoven's works. If Glenn Gould specialized on Bach's music, has being played also modern composers of XX century, Schnabel dedicated himself to Beethoven and Schubert. Arthur Rubinstein - the Polish pianist, performed a lot of Chopin and other authors.
MJ: How many composers one can find among pianists-virtuosos? Whether it happens?
MM: Yes, certainly. Liszt, Rachmaninov.
WJ: As to the virtuoso-performer and the virtuoso-composer: are these things necessarily compatible? Is musician able both to play good, and to write music good, or something should turn out better, something needs for more time to give?
MM: Each of these two occupations demands a lot of time and full feedback. I cannot name from my contemporaries pianists whom I know who would write music of the same level with their piano creativity. I do not name them not because they do not exist, but only because to me they are unknown. However all pianists are engaged in the composition of piano transcriptions.
MJ: To be the masterly pianist - all this is closer to you? Haven't you try to compose music?
MM: I have…
MJ: But performing art is closer, all the same?
MM: I have concentrated on performing.
MJ: What does that mean: to be the virtuoso pianist?
MM: Likely, it means that you dispose (operate) the instrument well, that you know it well and you are able to express what you want to express. 'Virtuoso' word meaning, in particular, comes from a word “virtue”, “braveness”. The virtuoso, certainly, should be the person courageous in every sense.
WJ: Are you a courageous person, do you worry before concerts?
MM: I hope that I can name myself the courageous person, anyway, not cowardly. But I do worry before concerts. There is such history about one great pianist who should play in the Carnegie-hall, not for the first time, and has felt very strong excitement. He asked his manager: “Let's cancel today's concert, I worry so much, I can't come out on a stage.” Manager (a genius) has answered him: “Well, no problems, but you (the pianist - editor) should come out to the stage and tell this to public”. And the pianist came out and played the concert program he had to play.
MJ: What will you perform today and tomorrow?
MM: Today I'll perform with Kharkov philharmonic society orchestra and conductor Yury Yanko First Tchaikovsky's concerto for piano and orchestra, and tomorrow there will be a recital: Grand Sonata and The Seasons of Tchaikovsky.
MJ: Thank you for coming to our studio at this time. I'll remind that we had on a visit Maria Mirovska, the pianist, Kharkov-born who lives now between two cities - both in Kharkov, and in Moscow simultaneously. Thanks, wishing good concerts to you and kind public tomorrow.
MM: Thank you very much, that you have invited me.
WJ: Thanks. See you at the concerts.