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Sviatoslav Richter (1915 - 1997)

Richter’s father was a pianist and composer who had studied in Vienna and then taught at the Odessa Conservatory. He was German, and Richter’s mother was his pupil. The boy was raised in an artistic environment, but from the age of four until he was seven, he lived with his aunt. When he returned to Odessa he began piano lessons, but his natural musical curiosity and talent led to him sight-reading operatic scores and learning empirically. To earn money, from the age of fifteen to seventeen he was accompanist at the House of Sailors in Odessa, then made his solo debut and became accompanist to the Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Largely self-taught, Richter was twenty-two when he entered the Moscow Conservatory where he studied with Heinrich Neuhaus. At his adult debut he played works by Prokofiev including the first performance of the Piano Sonata No. 6 Op. 82. He became friends with Prokofiev and gave the première of the Piano Sonata No. 7 Op. 83 in 1943; the Piano Sonata No. 9 Op. 103 was dedicated to him.



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