- Sviatoslav Richter
Infobox musical artist
Name = Sviatoslav Richter
Img_size = 180
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name = nowrap|Sviatoslav Teofilovich Richter
Born = OldStyleDate|March 20|1915|March 7
Zhytomyr, Russian Empire(now Ukraine)
Died = death date and age|1997|08|01|1915|03|20
Genre = Classical
Years_active = 1934-1996
Sviatoslav Teofilovich Richter ( _ru. Святосла́в Теофи́лович Рихтер, "Svjatoslav Teofilovič Rikhter") (OldStyleDate|March 20|1915|March 7 –
August 1, 1997) was a Soviet pianist and widely recognized as one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. He was well known for the depth of his interpretations, virtuoso technique and vast repertoire.
Richter was born in
Zhytomyr, Russian Empire(now Ukraine) to a German expatriate father and a Russian mother. [cite web | author= | title=Famous Germans from Russia | url=http://www-personal.umich.edu/~steeles/gerrus | publisher=Sherri Steele | date= | accessdate=2007-09-08] He grew up in Odessa. Unusually, he was largely self-taught although his father who was a pianist and organist, and one of his father's pupils, a Czech harpist, provided him with a basic education in music. [Monsaingeon, pp. 12-14] Even at an early age, Richter was an excellent sight-reader, and regularly practiced with local opera and ballet companies. He developed a lifelong passion for opera, vocal and chamber music that found its full expression in the festivals he established in Grange de Meslay, France, and in Moscow, at the Pushkin Museum. He started to work at the Odessa Operawhere he accompanied the rehearsals. [Monsaingeon, p. 20]
On March 19, 1934, Richter gave his first recital, at the engineers' club of
Odessa; but he did not formally start studying pianountil three years later, when he decided to seek Heinrich Neuhaus, a famous pianist and piano teacher, at the Moscow Conservatory. During Richter's audition for Neuhaus, Neuhaus apparently whispered to a fellow student "this man's a genius". Although Neuhaus taught many great pianists, including Emil Gilelsand Radu Lupu, it is said that he considered Richter to be "the genius pupil, for whom he had been waiting all his life", while acknowledging that he taught Richter almost "nothing".
Early in his career, Richter also tried his hand at composing, and it even appears that he played some of his compositions during his audition for Neuhaus. He gave up composition shortly after moving to Moscow. Years later, Richter explained this decision as follows: "Perhaps the best way I can put it is that I see no point in adding to all the bad music in the world". [Kevin Bazzana - Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997), Notes to Richter in Leipzig, Music & Arts CD 1025.]
Behind the Iron Curtain
Richter was gay, and while his sexual orientation was an open secret in the Soviet musical world, homosexual behavior was illegal and punishable by what Benjamin Ivry calls "draconian" Soviet law. This conflict contributed to Richter's tendency to be private and withdrawn. [cite news | author=Benjamin Ivry | title=from Russia with (forbidden) love | url=http://www.salon.com/ent/music/feature/1999/01/05feature.html | work=salon | date=5 January 2005 | accessdate=2007-09-08] [ letter from Nicolas Nabokov to Igor Stravinsky, February 3, 1963, Stravinsky, selected correspondence, Vol II ISBN 0-394-52813-1 "We are writing to you from a concert by Sviatoslav Richter, who is playing Bach and Schubert brilliantly. He is a flaming fag."] Richter was not open to interviews and never publicly discussed his personal life.
In 1945, Richter met and accompanied in recital the soprano
Nina Dorliak, who was ten years his senior. Richter and Dorliak thereafter remained companions until her death, although they never legally married. She provided not only a "social front" for his sexual orientation, as Ivry writes, but also a practical counterbalance to his impulsive nature. She would wind his watch for him, remind him of appointments, and manage his professional commitments.
In 1949 he won the Stalin Prize, which led to extensive concert tours in Russia, Eastern Europe and China. Richter gave his first concerts outside the Soviet union in
Czechoslovakiain 1950. [cite web | author= | title= Sviatoslav Richter Chronology - 1950 | url=http://www.trovar.com/str/dates/a1950.html | publisher=trovar.com | date= 22 February 2001 | accessdate=2007-09-08] In 1952, Richter was invited to play Franz Lisztin the all-Russian remakeof the 1946 "Glinka" movie, also Russian, of the life of Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, called "Kompozitor Glinka" (Russian: "Композитор Глинка", "Glinka The Composer"). The title role was played by Boris Smirnov.
In 1960, even though he had a reputation for being "indifferent" to politics, Richter defied the authorities when he performed at
Boris Pasternak's funeral. [cite journal | last=Coleman | first=Alexander | authorlink= | coauthors= | year=1997| month=October | title=Sviatoslav Richter, 1915-1997 | journal=The New Criterion | volume=16 | issue=2 | pages= | id= | url=http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/16/oct97/coleman.htm | accessdate=2007-09-08] (He had played Prokofiev's Violin Sonata No. 1 at Joseph Stalin's funeral in 1953, with David Oistrakh.)
Sviatoslav Richter (who had received the Stalin and Lenin prizes and became People's Artist of the RSFSR), gave his first tour concerts in the USA in 1960 in England and France in 1961 [Vadim Mogilnitsky, “Sviatoslav Richter” / Вадим Могильницкий, из книги "Святослав Рихтер", (see link: http://www.sviatoslavrichter.ru/chronograph.php)] .
Tour in the West
The West first became aware of Richter through recordings made in the 1950s. One of Richter's first advocates in the West was
Emil Gilels, who stated during his first tour of the United States that the critics (who were giving Gilels rave reviews) should "wait until you hear Richter."cite news | author=Michael Kimmelman | title=The Reputation Is Legendary, The Playing Unpredictable | url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9807EEDB1F3FF931A15755C0A961958260 | work=The New York Times | date=22 June 1997 | accessdate=2007-08-28]
Richter's first concerts in the West took place in May 1960, when he was allowed to play in Finland, and on October 15, 1960, in Chicago, where he played
Johannes Brahms's Second Piano Concerto accompanied by the Chicago Symphony Orchestraand Erich Leinsdorf, creating a sensation. In a review, noted music " Chicago Tribune" critic Claudia Cassidy, who was known for her unkind reviews of established artists, recalled Richter first walking on stage hesitantly, looking vulnerable (as if about to be "devoured"), but then sitting at the piano and dispatching "the performance of a lifetime". [Claudia Cassidy, Chicago Tribune, 1960.] Richter's 1960 tour of the United States culminated in a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall. [http://www.trovar.com/str/dates/a1960.html.]
Richter, however, claimed to dislike performing in the United States ["America is standardized. It's all the same. I don't like it" says Richer in Monsaingeon's documentary "Richter, The Enigma", op.cit.] . Following a 1970 incident at Alice Tully Hall in New York City, when Richter's performance alongside
David Oistrakhwas disrupted by anti-Soviet protests, Richter vowed never to return. Rumors of a planned return to Carnegie Hall surfaced in the last years of Richter's life, although it is not clear if there was any truth behind them. [Kevin Bazzana - Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997), Notes to Richter in Leipzig, Music & Arts CD 1025]
In 1961, Richter played for the first time in London. His first recital, pairing works of
Haydnand Prokofiev, was received with hostility by British critics. Notably, Neville Cardusconcluded that Richter's playing was "provincial", and wondered why Richter had been invited to play in London, given that London had plenty of "second class" pianists of its own. Following a July 18, 1961 concert, where Richter performed both of Franz Liszt's piano concertos, the critics reversed course. [David Fanning, Notes to Sviatoslav Richter performs Chopin and Liszt, BBC Legends CD 2000.]
While he very much enjoyed performing for an audience, Richter hated planning concerts years in advance, and in later years took to playing at very short notice in small, most often darkened halls, with only a small lamp lighting the score. Richter claimed that this setting helped the audience focus on the music being performed, rather than on extraneous and irrelevant matters such as the performer's grimaces and gestures. [Monsaingeon, p. 108, "That's why I now play in the dark, to empty my head of all non-essential thoughts and allow the listener to concentrate on the music rather than on the performer. What's the point of watching a pianist's hands or face, when they only express the efforts being expended on the piece?"]
In 1986, Richter embarked on a six-month tour of Siberia, possibly giving as many as 150 recitals, at times performing in small towns that did not even have a concert hall. It is said that after one such concert, the members of the audience who had never before heard classical music performed, gathered in the middle of the hall and started swaying from side to side to celebrate the performer. [Transsiberian Express, "Le Monde de la musique", May 1989.] In his last years, it is said that Richter contemplated giving concerts free of charge. [Kevin Bazzana - Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997); Bruno Monsaingeon: "Introduction" to Sviatoslav Richter -- Notebooks and Conversations p. XX.]
An anecdote illustrates Richter's approach to performance in the last decade of his life. After reading a biography of
Charlemagne(Richter was an avid reader), Richter had his secretary send a telegram to the director of the theater in Aachen, a town reputed to have been Charlemagne's birthplace, stating "The Maestro has read a biography of Charlemagne and would like to play at Aquisgrana". The performance took place shortly thereafter. [Piero Rattalino, Sviatoslav Richter - Il Visionario.]
As late as 1995, Richter continued to perform some of the most demanding pieces in the pianistic repertoire, including
Maurice Ravel's " Miroirs" cycle, Sergei Prokofiev's Second Sonata and Frederic Chopin's etudes and Fourth Ballade. [cite web | author= | title=Sviatoslav Richter Recital, Museo Del Prado, Madrid | url=http://www.trovar.com/str/dates/95Madrid.html | work=Sviatoslav Richter Chronology | publisher=trovar.com | date=16 February 1995 | accessdate=2007-09-08] [cite web | author= | title=Sviatoslav Richter Recital, Santuario de la Bien Aparecida, Santander, Spain | url=http://www.trovar.com/str/dates/95Santander2.html | work=Sviatoslav Richter Chronology | publisher=trovar.com | date=18 January 1995 | accessdate=2007-09-08] Richter's last recorded orchestral performance was of three Mozartconcerti in 1994 with the Japan Shinsei Symphony Orchestraconducted by his old friend Rudolf Barshai. [www.trovar.com/str/dates/a1994.html]
Richter's last recital was a private gathering in
Lübeck, Germany, on 30 March 1995. The program consisted of two Haydnsonatas and Max Reger's "Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Beethoven", a piece for two pianos, which Richter performed with pianist Andreas Lucewicz. [ [http://www.trovar.com/str/dates/a1995.html Sviatoslav Richter Chronology - 1995 ] ]
Richter died at
Central Clinical Hospitalin Moscowfrom a heart attack, after he suffered from a depressed state of mind caused by his inability to perform in public. At the time of his death, Richter was rehearsing Schubert's "Fünf Klavierstucke", D. 459. [ [http://www.richtercompetition.com/en_richter6.html Richter International Piano Competition ] ]
As Richter once put it, "My repertory runs to around eighty different programs, not counting chamber works." [Monsaingeon, p. 143.] Indeed, Richter's repertoire ranged from
Handeland Bachto Karol Szymanowski, Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Paul Hindemith, Benjamin Britten, and George Gershwin, although with many omissions such as Bach's " Goldberg Variations", Beethoven's "Waldstein" and "Moonlight" sonatas and "Fourth" and "Fifth" piano concertos, Schubert's A-major sonata D. 959, Prokofiev's Third piano concerto, and Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 3".Monsaingeon, pp. 383-406.]
Richter worked tirelessly to learn new pieces. For instance, in the late 1980s, Richter learned
Brahms's Paganini and Handel variations and in the 1990s, he learned several of Debussy's etudes, piano concertos by Saint-Saëns, Gershwin, Mozart, as well as sonatas by Bachand Mozartwhich he had not previously included in his programs.
Central to his repertoire were the works of
Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Beethoven, J. S. Bach, Chopin, Liszt, Prokofiev, Debussyand many others. He is said to have learned the second book of Bach's " Well-Tempered Clavier" by heart in one month. [Monsaingeon, p. 48] He gave the premiere of Prokofiev's "Sonata No. 7", which he learned in four days, and No. 9, which Prokofiev dedicated to Richter. Apart from his solo career, he also performed chamber musicwith partners such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Rudolf Barshai, David Oistrakh, Oleg Kagan, Yuri Bashmet, Natalia Gutman, Zoltan Kocsis, Elisabeth Leonskaya, Benjamin Brittenand members of the Borodin String Quartet. Richter also often accompanied singers such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Peter Schreier, Galina Pisarenkoand his long-time companion Nina Dorliak. [Monsaingeon, p. 413.]
Richter also conducted the premiere of
Sergei Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto for cello and orchestra. This was his sole appearance as a conductor. The soloist was Rostropovich, to whom the work was dedicated. Prokofiev also wrote his 1949 Cello Sonata in C for Rostropovich, and he and Richter premiered it in 1950. Richter himself was a passable cellist, and Rostropovich was a good pianist; at one concert in Moscow at which he accompanied Rostropovich on the piano, they exchanged instruments for part of the program.
Approach to performance
Richter explained his approach to performance as follows: "The interpreter is really an executant, carrying out the composer's intentions to the letter. He doesn't add anything that isn't already in the work. If he is talented, he allows us to glimpse the truth of the work that is in itself a thing of genius and that is reflected in him. He shouldn't dominate the music, but should dissolve into it." [Monsaingeon, p. 153.] Or, similarly: "I am not a complete idiot, but whether from weakness or laziness have no talent for thinking. I know only how to reflect: I am a mirror . . . Logic does not exist for me. I float on the waves of art and life and never really know how to distinguish what belongs to the one or the other or what is common to both. Life unfolds for me like a theatre presenting a sequence of somewhat unreal sentiments; while the things of art are real to me and go straight to my heart." [cite web | author=Mervyn Horder | title=A Richter Rehearsal at the Barbican, | url=http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-16044498.html | Work=Contemporary Review | date=May 1994 | accessdate=2007-09-08]
Richter's belief that musicians should "carry ... out the composer's intentions to the letter," led him to be critical of others and, most often, himself. [Monsaingeon, p. 153.] After attending a recital of
Murray Perahia, where Perahia performed Chopin's "Third Piano Sonata" without observing the first movement repeat, Richter asked him backstage to explain the omission. [Monsaingeon, p. 313 ("When I asked him why he didn't do the repeat of the exposition in the B minor Sonata, he seemed surprised and exclaimed 'But no one does it'".).] Similarly, after Richter realized that he had been playing a wrong note in Bach's Italian Concerto for decades, he insisted that the following disclaimer/apology be printed on a CD containing a performance thereof: "Just now Sviatoslav Richter realized, much to his regret, that he always made a mistake in the third measure before the end of the second part of the 'Italian Concerto'. As a matter of fact, through forty years -- and no musician or technician ever pointed it out to him -- he played 'F-sharp' rather than 'F'. The same mistake can be found in the previous recording made by Maestro Richter in the fifties." [Richter's comment on inner sleeve of Stradivarius CD 33323.]
Despite his large discography, Richter disliked the recording process, [Falk Schwartz & John Berrie, Sviatoslav Richter -- A Discography, Recorded Sound, July 1983 (" [Richter] repeated [ly] assert [s] that he dislikes the recording studio").] and most of Richter's recordings originate from live performances. Thus, his live recitals from
Moscow(1948), Warsaw(1954), Sofia(1958), New York(1960), Leipzig(1963), Warsaw(1972), Aldeburgh(multiple years), Prague(multiple years), Salzburg(1977) and Amsterdam(1986), are hailed as some of the finest documents of his playing, as are other myriad live recordings issued prior to and since his death on labels including Music & Arts, BBC Legends, Philips, Russian Revelation, and more recently Ankh productions.
Other critically acclaimed live recordings by Richter include performances of
Scriabin's selected etudes, preludes and sonatas (multiple performances, different years), Schumann's C-major Fantasy (multiple performances, different years), Beethoven's Appassionata sonata (Moscow, 1960), Schubert's B-flat sonata (multiple performances, different years), Ravel's "Miroirs" (Prague, 1965), Liszt's b-minor sonata (multiple performances, 1965-66), Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata (multiple performances, 1975) and selected preludes by Rachmaninoff(multiple performances, different years) and Debussy(multiple performances, different years). [cite web | author= | title=Review Digest for Performances by Sviatoslav Richter | url=http://www.classicstoday.com/digest/pdigest.asp?perfidx=2239 | work=ClassicsToday | date= | accessdate=2007-09-08]
However, despite his professed hatred for the studio, Richter took the recording process quite seriously. [Falk Schwartz & John Berrie, Sviatoslav Richter -- A Discography, Recorded Sound, July 1983.] For instance, after a long recording session for
Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy, for which he had used a Bösendorferpiano, Richter listened to the tapes and, dissatisfied with his performance, told the recording engineer "Well, I think we'll remake it on the Steinwayafter all". [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4149810,00.html Guardian Unlimited | Archive Search ] ] Similarly, during a recording session for Schumann's Toccata, Richter reportedly chose to play this piece (which Schumann himself considered "among the most difficult pieces ever written" [Robert Schumann's correpondence, about 1832] ) several times in a row, without taking any breaks, in order to preserve the spontaneity of his interpretation.Fact|date=April 2007
According to Falk Schwartz and John Berrie's 1983 article "Sviatoslav Richter -- A Discography", [Recorded Sound, July 1983.] in the 1970s Richter announced his intention of recording his complete solo repertoire "on some 50 discs". This "complete" Richter project did not come to fruition, however, although twelve LPs worth of recordings were pressed between 1970 and 1973, and were subsequently re-issued (in CD format) by Olympia (various composers, 10 CDs) and RCA (
Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier).
In 1961, Richter's recording with
Erich Leinsdorfand the Chicago Symphony Orchestraof the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 won the Grammy Awardfor Best Classical Performance - Concerto or Instrumental Soloist. That recording is still considered a landmark (despite Richter's claim he was dissatisfied with it) [Bruno Monsaingeon, Sviatoslav Richter -- Notebooks and Conversations, p. 108 ("There was also the recording of Brahms's Second Concerto with Erich Leinsdorf, one of my words records, even though people still praise it to the skies. I can't bear it.")] , as are his studio recordings of Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy, Liszt's two Piano Concertos, Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and Schumann's Toccata, among many others. [See, e.g., www.classicstoday.com.]
Honours and awards
Sonning Award(1986; Denmark)
* Doctor of Music, "honoris causa"
Memorable statements about Richter
The Italian critic Piero Rattalino has asserted that the only pianists comparable to Richter in the history of piano performance were
Franz Lisztand Ferruccio Busoni. [See Piero Rattalino, Pianisti e Fortisti, Il terzo Uomo ("How many pianists can claim today to be at [Richter's] level? How many are his peers, in the whole history of piano playing? Although I may appear unduly selective, only two names come to mind: Franz Liszt and Feruccio Busoni. The first was born in 1811; the second in 1866, fifty-one years later. And Richter was born in 1915, forty-nine years after Busoni.).] Glenn Gouldcalled Richter one of "the most powerful musical communicators of our time".Bruno Monsaingeon, The Enigma (film biography of Richter).] Van Cliburnattended a Richter recital in 1958 in the Soviet Union. He reportedly cried during the recital and, upon returning to the United States, described Richter's playing as "the most powerful piano playing I have ever heard". [ http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1997/year.ender/obit/arts/index.html.] Artur Rubinsteindescribed his first exposure to Richter as follows: "It really wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Then at some point I noticed my eyes growing moist: tears began rolling down my cheeks." Heinrich Neuhausdescribed Richter as follows: "His singular ability to grasp the whole and at the same time miss none of the smallest details of a composition suggests a comparison with an eagle who from his great height can see as far as the horizon and yet single out the tiniest detail of the landscape." [Portrait of an Artist, by Heinrich Neuhaus, available at http://www.trovar.com/str/neuhaus.html.] Dmitri Shostakovichwrote of Richter: "Richter is an extraordinary phenomenon. The enormity of his talent staggers and enraptures. All the phenomena of musical art are accessible to him." [Foreword to V.I. Delson, Sviatoslav Richter, Moscow 1961, partial translation available at www.sonybmgmasterworks.com/artists/sviatoslavrichter/.] Vladimir Sofronitskyproclaimed that Richter was a "genius", prompting Richter to respond that Sofronitsky was a "god". [ [http://www.sofronitsky.com/. Vladimir Sofronitsky ] ] Vladimir Horowitzsaid: "Of the Russian pianists, I like only one, Richter" [Harold C. Schonberg, Horowitz -- His Life and Music, Simon & Schuster, 1992.] Pierre Boulezwrote of Richter: "His personality was greater than the possibilities offered to him by the piano, broader than the very concept of complete mastery of the instrument." [http://www.richtercompetition.com/en_richter6.html. Ðóññêèé Óçåë - Ôàéë íå íàéäåí ] ]
Noted Gramophone critic
Bryce Morrisondescribed Richter as follows: "Idiosyncratic, plain-speaking, heroic, reserved, lyrical, virtuosic and perhaps above all, profoundly enigmatic, Sviatoslav Richter remains one of the greatest recreative artists of all time." [Bryce Morrison, Gramophone review of Sviatoslav Richter's Schumann EMI CD 62961.]
Memorable statements by Richter
On listening to
Bach: "It does no harm to listen to Bach from time to time, even if only from a hygienic standpoint." [Monsaingeon, p. 196.]
Scriabin: "Scriabin isn't the sort of composer whom you'd regard as your daily bread, but is a heady liqueur on which you can get drunk periodically, a poetical drug, a crystal that's easily broken." [Monsaingeon, p. 267.]
On picking small venues for performance: "Put a small piano in a truck and drive out on country roads; take time to discover new scenery; stop in a pretty place where there is a good church; upload the piano and tell the residents; give a concert; offer flowers to the people who have been so kind as to attend; leave again." [Alain Lompech - A Free Spirit Among Artists, A Protean Pianist, Notes to Richter Performs Beethoven, Philips 438 624-2.]
On his plan to perform without a fee: "Music must be given to those who love it. I want to give free concerts; that's the answer." [Bruno Monsaingeon: "Introduction" to Sviatoslav Richter -- Notebooks and Conversations p. XX.]
Richter was known for his extremely self-critical, self-demanding attitude, although he also could be quite straightforward in criticizing his colleagues.Richter had a prodigious memory, but following a couple of memory lapses in the late 1970s, he refused to perform without the score in front of him. [Monsaingeon, p. 140; id. p. 142 ("Following an absolutely frightful concert that I gave at the Fetes Musicales de Touraine, when I played eight of Liszt's Transcendental Studies, and a recital in Japan, where I took fright even before launching into Beethoven's op. 106 Sonata, I made up my mind never again to play without a score.").]
Richter refused to play piano transcriptions in concert, [Monsaingeon, p. 115.] although on occasion he would perform opera transcriptions for his friends. In the 1940s, he apparently performed his own transcription of
Wagner's Tristan und Isoldefor a group of friends in one sitting.Bruno Monsaingeon, Richter -- The Enigma.] Similarly, after being a witness at Riccardo Muti's wedding, Richter played from memory the entire first act of Puccini's Madam Butterflyfor a small group of wedding guests. [See Piero Rattalino, Notes to Richter performs Weber, Brahms and Prokofiev, Ermitage CD ERM 113.]
He owned two Hamburg-made
Steinwaypianos and was also fond of Bechsteinand Bösendorfer[ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4149810,00.html. Guardian Unlimited | Archive Search ] ] pianos. Starting at some point in the late 1970s, however, Richter began to perform on Yamahapianos. [http://www.yamaha.co.jp/english/product/piano/about/r_f_e/r_f_e.html; Bruno Monsaigeon, Sviatoslav Richter - The Enigma; Mervyn Horder, A Richter Rehearsal at the Barbican, Contemporary Review, May 1994, available at http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-16044498.html.]
Richter had unusually large hands, capable of taking a twelfth. [V.I. Delson, Sviatoslav Richter, Moscow 1961, p. 50] David Dubal wrote of them, "What amazing hands - they seemed to be made of marble; his fifth finger was fearsome in its physical strength." [David Dubal, The Art of the Piano, Third Edition (2004), Amadeus Press]
Richter's favorite composers were
Chopin, Debussyand Wagner. [Alexander Melnikov, Notes to Sviatoslav Richter Performs Debussy and Chopin, BBC Legelds 4021-2.] His favorite piano concertos were the first concerto of Beethovenand the A-minor concerto of Robert Schumann. [Monsaingeon, p. 327.]
During the interview contained in the documentary "Richter – the Enigma" (1998), he claimed never to have practiced more than 2 or 3 hours a day (except when he had to learn a piece on short notice). However, his wife also said that he could practice up to 10 hours a day, labouring over details, which may reflect Richter's exceedingly self-critical nature.Fact|date=May 2007
Richter hated the telephone and disliked flying.
Richter was a very generous person, and would often dedicate recitals to the memory of his friends (e.g.,
Oleg Kagan, Heinrich Neuhaus, Artur Rubinstein, etc.). For instance, in 1992, upon learning of Marlene Dietrich's death, Richter dedicated a recital (for which he wrote the program by hand) to her memory, and sent 600 white and pink roses as sign of condolence. [cite web | author= | title=Sviatoslav Richter | url=http://www.live-classics.com/richter.htm | publisher=Live Classics | date= | accessdate=2007-09-08]
Richter was most often very courteous, although his notebooks published in 2001 (in edited form) reveal that he could be frankly disapproving of some musicians’ performances.
Richter battled depression throughout his life. He was known for his exceptionally self-critical, self-demanding and straightforward attitude, although he also could be rather blunt in critically assessing his colleagues’ performances. Richter describes a younger colleague as a person who is “happy with himself nearly all the time”, adding that “he would be even happier if he were more modest”.
Born in 1915 to a father of German extraction and a Russian noble mother, Richter recounts how he told
Herbert von Karajanthat he (Richter) was "a German, too", and Karajan replied "then I am a Chinese". Richter commented Karajan’s reaction by saying "How do you like that?" [Bruno Monsaingeon, Richter - The Enigma.] (Karajan was of part-Greek and Slovenian descent.)
During a 1986 press conference in Russia, the older Horowitz asked whether it was true that Richter used the score when performing.
*cite book | last=Monsaingeon | first=Bruno | title=Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations | year=2001 | publisher=Princeton University Press | isbn=0571205534
* Monsaingeon, Bruno (1998), "Richter, the Enigma". Video interview-documentary. OCLC|41148757
*cite book | last=Rattalino | first=Piero | title=Sviatoslav Richter. Il Visionario | year=2005 | publisher=Zecchini Editore | isbn=8887203350
* [http://trovar.com/str Website dedicated to Sviatoslav Richter, includes an extensive discography]
* [http://www.doremi.com/sr.html RECORDED RICHTER, complete discography that includes currently unavailable recordings and private recordings]
* [http://www.neuhaus.it/english/dorliak.html Brief obituary of Nina Dorliak]
* [http://www.trovar.com/str/bio.html Paul Geffen, 1999:] "Vita" of Sviatoslav Richter
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