Born in St. Petersburg, he studied at the then-Petrograd Conservatory, graduating in 1921. He gave his first solo concert in 1919 and only left the Soviet Union twice, once to do a tour of France in 1928-29 and later to do a quick appearance at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 at the special request of Stalin.
Sofronitsky met Elena Scriabina, Scriabin’s daughter in 1917, two years after the death of her father, and they were married in 1920. He never met Scriabin, but Scriabina said that her husband was the ‘most authentic interpreter’ of his works.
He’s little known in the west due to his few appearances outside the Soviet Union but he was held in high regard by other pianists such as Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. They held him in such high esteem that when he acclaimed Richter as a genius, Richter responded by calling Sofronitsky a god.
The authority with which he performs Scriabin’s Third Piano Sonata gives us a taste of how a master confronts a famously difficult composer.
Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 3 in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 23: I. Drammatico (Vladimir Sofronitsky, piano)
He was also known for his Chopin performances and in this performance of Chopin’s Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48/ 1, he takes a deliberate tempo that brings out the melancholy in the work.
- Forgotten Pianists: Solomon British pianist Solomon Cutner (1902-1988) was known professionally solely by his first name, ‘Solomon.’
- Forgotten Pianists: Josef Hofmann Pianist Josef Hofmann (1876-1957) was born outside Kraków, Poland, to music parents.
- Forgotten Pianists: Samuil Feinberg The pianist Samuil Feinberg (1890-1962) was a contemporary of Heinrich Neuhaus and they both taught at the Moscow Conservatory.
- Forgotten Pianists: Heinrich Neuhaus The noise of the new so often pushes the old out of our sight that often it’s a good idea to go back and see what we might have missed or forgotten.
Schubert’s Moments Musicaux
A Distinct Soundworld in Microcosm Explore Schubert’s best-loved works for piano in details
- Presaging the Future of Opera? Thomson and Stein’s Four Saints in Three Acts Modernist opera that still resonates this day
- Connecting the Dots—When Piano Rolls Were the Rage Enjoy piano performances of 100 years ago
- Upset by Einaudi? Discover beauty in simplicity