For those who
listened to Neighaus' playing it seemed that there was nothing more natural than
his perception of music. It was a priceless talent - to feel on stage as if one
has opened the scores for the first time and just began to improvise. There was
nothing secondary or prepared. It was a rare combination of freshness, light
breath, noble pride, bright temperament and beautiful taste. The listener was
fascinated by the fragrance of the slipping epoch, by the high European
education. His Chopin interpretations were special: romantic artistry,
nature-inspired bel canto on the piano, inner harmony and grace.
For me, the school of Neighaus' was and still remains a school of search. He
never presented ready-made conceptions. It still seems miraculous how even after
a hundredth plunge into Chopin's sonata together with a pupil was he able to be
surprised and deeply touched by its beauty, to hear previously unknown tints of
Chopin's thoughts. Contacts with him helped to impart great respect for culture.
Never could he be called an erudite systematically accumulating knowledge. His
education was rather borne by diverse aspirations, everlasting inquisitiveness
and "openness" to life. Besides art, he had a vast knowledge in different
fields, and we all unconsciously were becoming induced into this boundless
world. He was noted of heart easiness and independence, ability to take doubt in
himself and also in everything that is usually considered undoubted. His
disarming self-irony acted on us, his pupils, stronger than any moralistic
Henry Neighaus, a great Russian pianist and pedagogue, was one of the most
significant musicians in Russian history of the XX century.
He was born in 1888 in a Russain city of Elisavetgrad. Since his early
childhood, he was always bound with music. His father Gustav Neighaus was a
pianist and pedagogue, quite well known in his city; he became Henry's first
music teacher. His mother Olga was a brilliant pianist and a sister of Felix
Blumenfeld, an eminent musician, who had important impact on his young nephew's
education. Another fa-mous relative of Henry Neighaus was the great Polish
composer Carol Szimanovsky.
Neighaus began his concert activities rather early - he played his first public
concert at the age of 9 in his home town. Later, he gave concerts in other
cities, toured in Germany (1904, 1906) and Italy (1909).
In 1906, in Berlin, he met Leopold Godov-sky for the first time ant took several
lessons. In 1912-14 he continued his studies with Godov-sky when he was a
student in Vienna, in Mei-sterschule. At that time, he played many concerts and
recitals in Austria and Germany.
In 1915, Neighaus graduated from Petrograd (former St.Petersburg) Conserva-toire.
In 1916 - 1918, he worked in Tiflis (Tbilisi) Music College in Georgia. In the
next four years Neighaus was in Kiev Conservatoire (since 1919 he was a
professor). In 1922, he came to Moscow. For more than forty years he was a
professor at the Moscow Conservatoire (in 1935-37 - its rector). Among his
pupils were Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Jakov Zak, Stanislav Neighaus,
Eugeny Malinin, Vera Gornostaeva, Lev Naumov, Berta Maranz, Margarita Fedorova,
Vladimir Krainev, Alexey Nasedkin, Igor Zhukov, Igor Nikonovich, Valery
Kastelsky, Elena Richter, Oleg Boshnia-kovich and many other outstanding
pianists and pedagogues.
At the same time, Neighaus continued his concert activities, giving recitals and
playing concerts with orchestras and in ensembles (among his partners were David
Oistrach, Beethoven Quartet and many other eminent musicians). His repertoire
"Those who had heard his performances acquired something special that cannot be
ex-plained, Jakov Milstein wrote about Neig-haus's concerts. - He was always
different and yet always the same - artist - creator … it seemed that he did not
play music but created it… He was overwhelmed by the emotion that seemed to be
Henry Neighaus died in 1964.