Alexander Torrades, private pianist, dies at 69

Alexander Toradze, Georgian-American pianist and Soviet dissident who was a distinguished and brave performer of Russian composers either Liked or hated, died May 11 at his home in South Bend, Indiana. He was 69 years old.

His manager, Ettore Volunteri, said the cause was heart failure, and his health had deteriorated since 2019.

Mr. Torrades also developed heart failure, as was later diagnosed, on April 23 during a performance with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in Washington State. Volontieri said that although he had to be helped on stage at first due to weakness, he completed the concert and was subsequently taken to the hospital.

Mr. Toradze specializes in Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov and other Russian composers. His concerts this spring were to include a performance of Prokofiev’s No. 3 Piano Concerto with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, scheduled for May 14.

Mr. Toradze, nicknamed Lexo by his friends and colleagues, won the silver medal in 1977 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition In Fort Worth, though, the jury members were divided, with some finding his play to be annoyingly boisterous.

critic Peter J DavisHowever, among his fans was: Hu Books in The New York Times Two years later, “his playing is of the best music and brilliance in that it stems directly from the character of the music and not from a desire to show off”.

He added, “His tone was sparkling but never chattering; the poise and subtlety of his interpretation were poised with elegance as well as immense deep excitement.”

at 1984 revisionAnd Donal Hanhan Of The Times wrote of Mr. Toradze’s playing, “It is the characteristic Russian style of an older generation, still alive in this age of distinguished international talent.”

Mr. Touradze fled to the United States in 1983, where he presented himself at the US Embassy in Madrid to seek asylum during a tour with the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra. According to critic and author Joseph Horowitz,a close friend and technical advisor to Mr. Toradze, was a dramatic defection that included highway chases in Spain and an attempted kidnapping by KGB at a restaurant.

Three months later, Mr. Toradze embarked on an American tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. During his career, he has performed with major American orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra, among others.

In 1991, he was appointed professor of piano at Indiana University South Bend, where he created the Toradze Piano Studio, inspired by the extensive and extensive training of Soviet music schools. His studio is made up of former and current students, who mostly presented Russian reference At marathon parties in the United States and Europe.

His students also played football, and the Toradze Studio team won the university championship three years in a row. “Football is not very good for the hands,” Mr. Toradze Tell The Times in 2002, “But it’s brilliant for the mind.”

A social host, he enjoyed throwing late-night dinners and raucous parties for his students, many of whom he recruited from Russia and Georgia. He retired from university in 2017.

Mr. Horowitz wrote that while he was widely admired, Mr. Toradzi’s individual approach “was not appropriate for everyone – or for all musical acts”. in appreciation Published after the death of Mr. Toradze. “The Emperor Beethoven’s concerto was one piece that could not survive Lixu’s attack.”

Times critic Bernard Holland, reviewing a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in 1988, books that “Mr. Torrades’ usual extravagance would not fit the classical limitations of this music, so his tactic was to seek other extremes.” The results “alternated between strange and inaudible,” he said.

Mr. Torrades acknowledged these responses. “I always expect angry attacks,” he said. in an interview With the Baltimore Sun in 1992.

Alexander Davydovich Turadze was born on May 30, 1952, in Tbilisi, Georgia, to the composer David Torrades And the actress Liana Asatiani. He attended a special music school for talented children in Tbilisi and the Moscow Conservatory, graduating in 1978.

When he was a student in Moscow, Mr. Torrades listened to the illegal broadcast of the Voice of America’s “Jazz Hour”. For him, he said, jazz represented artistic freedom. While performing in Portland, Oregon, during a Soviet-sponsored tour in 1978, he learned that Ella Fitzgerald And Oscar Peterson She would perform twice the next day. This infuriated his manager. Decided to skip rehearsal in Miami to attend parties. Mrs. Fitzgerald invited him on stage, where he told her she was “a goddess for the people of the Soviet Union”.

Includes catalog of records of young Mr. Toradze 1998 The Five Piano CD by ProkofievWith Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra, Shostakovich Piano Concerto, with Pavo Jarvey and Radio Frankfurt Symphony.

Mr. Torades, a practicing Orthodox Christian, advised young artists to get used to praying before performances. Speaking of Liszt’s differences on the topic of Bach, Tell The Times in 1986: “Bach’s cantata describes anxiety, grumbling, doubt, and crying. Many of these feelings have been a part of my life. But the piece moves steadily and weightily toward a great final chorus in the major, with the words, ‘What God does is good.’ This is my creed.”

His marriage to pianist Susan Blake ended in divorce in 2002. His two sons, David and Alex, are survived. sister, Nino Toradze; and his longtime partner, pianist Cheon Kim.

After his escape to the United States, Mr. Torrades lamented that strict union rules regarding rehearsal times could prevent an orchestra from rehearsing until the end of a concerto, even if the musicians were a few short bars away. But he appreciated the high quality tools offered.

“In Russia, I played the piano many times with broken strings or broken keys,” He told the radio host Bruce Duffy in 2002.

But he added, There are times when the piano isn’t OK, or you’re not OK, but you keep going anyway.”