Evgeny Igorevitch Kissin is a Russian-British-Israeli classical pianist. He first came to international fame as a child prodigy. He has been a British citizen since 2002 and an Israeli citizen since 2013. He has a wide repertoire and is especially known for his interpretations of the works of the Romantic era, particularly those of Frédéric Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Franz Liszt.
The first two parts describe Kissin’s childhood in Russia and his family’s decision to live abroad after the attempted putsch at the Moscow White House. The third part consists mostly of his views of other pianists and conductors, as well as memories of people he met during his early years and career.
Kissin writes about his parents, his sister, his grandparents and his teachers with tender affection and touching detail that gives his memoirs the transparency of water. Here are the things and the people and events that formed him, nurtured and challenged him, and the individuals who made him feel gratitude, amazement and awe. And, of course, it is infused with his lifelong engagement with making music, an obsessive love that captured him when he was young.
The book throws a good deal of light on the life and attitudes of the mainly Russian Jewish intelligentsia, the problems of visas to America, Britain and other countries, and his views on performance of music, his own compositions in music and verse, and his personal approach to concerts. It also offers Kissin’s philosophy of life and his understanding of human nature derived from meetings with learned people, books and his own day-to-day experience. He does not indulge in false modesty, but takes a realistic view of who he is in the eyes of the world.
The title is right: it's a blend of some of the highlights of his life, musical and otherwise, along with Kissin's thoughts on a variety of topics from the nature of humanity to the meaning of liberty in Russia to his views of other musicians