Kissin versus the BBC

January 28, 2010

This site is so happily preoccupied with the three topics proclaimed in its masthead that even the three most fascinating subjects in the world — politics, sex, and religion — do not tempt it to deviate. But the position of music and musicians in society and influence of music and musicians on issues certainly are within its realm of interest. Thus the sudden thrusting of himself into a controversial political matter by Evgeny Kissin commands attention.

I well remember when a super-shy, retiring — even shrinking — Kissin emerged from the Soviet Union. I wrote the liner notes for his first three CDs that were recorded in the West and was at the twenty-first birthday party that RCA Victor Red Seal gave him, as well as other, similar occasions. In those days he wouldn’t say boo to a goose. Thus I am startled to see him speaking up against so mighty an entity as the British Broadcasting Corporation on an explosive issue and in forceful tone. Aside from the matter of his personal evolution, what is really compelling is the evident fact that he expects — and in this I think he’s correct — that he will be listened to, not because he is a known deep thinker or persuasive polemicist on this or any other political issue, but because he is an important musical performer. Any sequel to this will be interesting to watch.

Perhaps we can hope for a public debate between him and Daniel Barenboim? Dueling pianists indeed.

Hat-tip: Aleba Gartner

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