The name of
Sofronisky was and remains universal.
Vladimir Sofronitsky was born on May 8th, 1901 in St. Petersburg. In 1903, his family
moved to Warsaw, where he began his musical studies with Anna Lebedeva-Getzevich, a pupil
of Nikolai Rubinstein, and Alexander Mikhalovsky, a noted pianist, especially famous for
his Chopin interpretations.
In 1913, the family returned to Russia. In 1914 - 21, Sofronitsky studied at the Petrograd
Conservatoire under professor Leonid Nikolaev. His fellow students were such interesting
musicians as Maria Yudina, Dmitri Schostakovich, and the daughter of Alexander Scriabin
Elena Scriabina, whom Sofronitsky married in 1920.
As a student, Sofronitsky played a lot of concerts; after he graduated from the
Conservatoire in 1921, his career really began to flourish; he gave recitals in Petrograd
(Leningrad) and Moscow as well as many other cities of USSR with a great success; his
audience worshipped him. Alexander Glazunov, Korney Tchukovsky, Vsevolod Meyerhold were
among his admirers.
In 1928 - 30 Sofronitsky lived in France. He played concerts in Warsaw and in Paris,
enchanting his audiences and enjoying a great success.
After he returned to Russia, he continued his brilliant concert career. He used to play up
to 20 recitals with different programs in one season. The season of 1937 - 38 was
especially remarkable: Sofronitsky presented a historical cycle of twelve concerts
embracing important piano works by composers from Buxtehude to Prokofiev and
Schostakovich. His repertoire was enormous. But most important for him were romantic
composers - Chopin, Schumann, Liszt... And, above all, Scriabin...
Scriabin was his favorite composer. «From my younger days through my whole life and to
the end I will take with me with great joy my love to him. Life, light, struggle, will.
This is where the greatness Scriabin lies», he said. Sofronitsky played Scriabin like
nobody else; his poetic and inspired interpretations of Scriabin matched the composer’s
genius. Viacheslav Karatygin, a famous critic, wrote: «There is something in his
interpretation that reminds of Scriabin’s way of playing; and, in spite of the
pianist’s love to details and the widest range of contrasts in tempos and dynamics, the
harmony and proportion of the whole is never spoiled. It is the impressionism of details
and wise and austere classicism of the whole».
Since 1936, he was a professor at the Leningrad Conservatoire.
He was in Leningrad when the Second World War began. Like all Leningradians, he starved,
suffered from cold; he helped to put off fires after bombings; and yet - he gave concerts.
«It was 3 degrees below zero in the Pushkin Theatre. The people in the hall were in their
coats. I played in gloves with their tips cut off. But how they listened and what
inspiration I’ve got! What precious memories!»
In April 1942, Sofronitsky was evacuated from Nazi-blokaded Leningrad to Moscow (by air,
the only possible, though extremely difficult, way). He was weak because of hunger, yet in
two weeks time he began to play concerts again - his first recital was on April, 26 in the
Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.
Since autumn 1942, he became a professor at the Moscow Conservatoire.
He used to give up to 20 recitals a year in Moscow and Leningrad (and twice - in Kiev). He
played in many concert halls, mostly in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire (after
1957 - in the Maly Hall) and Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. Among the others, he especially
liked to play in the Scriabin Museum.
Sofronitsky continued his artistic activity until his death in 1961.