"A lifetime is not enough to play everything written for the piano and that I myself would like to play."
Dmitriy Yudin was born in Moscow in 2001. He learned music at the Gnessin Moscow Secondary Special Music School (College) in the class of Lidia Grigorieva, Honored Worker of Culture of the Russian Federation. Since 2019, he is a student at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City in the class of tutor Horacio Gutiérrez. In 2017 Dmitriy won the Second Moscow International Vladimir Krainev Piano Competition, and in 2018 he won a silver medal at the 17th Russian Youth Delphic Games in Vladivostok. He is actively engaged in concert activities in Russia and abroad: he has toured to European countries, given solo concerts in Lithuania and the USA; as a soloist at the St. Petersburg Music House he performs since 2018. The twenty-year-old musician has already accomplished a lot: he has won victories at prestigious competitions, experienced the unique feeling of inspired playing on stage, and learned to keep his composure even if something went wrong during the performance. What is characteristic of him is optimism, irony, and youthful fervor (almost like in Prokofiev's music). His dream is to play all of Rachmaninoff's concertos with the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra. According to his parents, Dmitriy became interested in music when he was 3-4 years old. The pianist himself does not remember this; probably, music had lived in him since he was born.
Dmitriy Yudin: There were no musicians in my family who dedicated their entire lives to this, but let's just say there were "attempts," and both on my mother's side: my grandfather, when he was a teenager, thought to the last minute about whether he should study mechanics and mathematics at Moscow State University or music at a conservatory. After all, he chose Moscow State University and became a really great academic, but he loved music all his life and was very good at it. His favorite composer, by the way, was Beethoven, whose concert I will be playing in St. Petersburg on December 8, so both this concert and this performance are especially important to me. My great-grandfather was going to become a professional pianist and even began studying at a conservatory, I think, but just then the revolution broke out, and music study had to be abandoned. I hope that somehow I will be able to finish what had been started and devote my life to music.
St. Petersburg Music House (SPDM): How first did you get to know your instrument?
Dmitriy Yudin: I don't remember exactly how it all started. My parents told me that at the age of three or four I could listen to music for hours, any kind of music, and conduct to it. I don't know if this is true or not, but the family legend is not bad. We had a neighbor at the time who was a violinist. She didn't do concerts, but she was a very good teacher. And when my parents told her that I loved listening to music and tried to conduct to it, she recommended that I audition for the Gnesin School of music, which I attended for 13 years and learned music with Lydia Alexandrovna Grigorieva. These years were, without exaggeration, the most significant in my life. During this time, Lydia Alexandrovna has become one of my very closest people, I owe her absolutely everything, and everything that I can and am able to do now, all this would be absolutely impossible without her support, patience and love. She is where my close acquaintance with the instrument began, and I can say that, despite living together for so long, piano and I still have a good relationship.
SPDM: You studied at the Gnessin College in Moscow, but you chose to go overseas to America to continue your education. What did you expect from the "regrouping"? And have the expectations come true?
Dmitriy Yudin: Partly it was coincidence, partly I was interested in pushing the boundaries and looking at different schools, different teaching styles. The teacher I'm studying with now (Horatio Gutiérrez), I've heard him as a pianist several times before, and I was very impressed by his interpretation of Prokofiev's Concerto No. 2 at the time. I trained with him, I liked him a lot, and I thought that working with him could do a lot for me as a musician. As time has passed, I realize that I was very lucky to learn from such a wonderful musician and person - exceptionally educated, of great inner culture and a natural simplicity in communication, which you don't always find in people of this caliber. I cant really say that I had any particular expectations, I just wanted to experience new things and look at both music and life from a different perspective.
SPDM: You participate in almost all projects of the St. Petersburg Music Houses. What was your most memorable performance?
Dmitriy Yudin: I have indeed been fortunate enough to perform a lot on behalf of the St. Petersburg Music House, and I am very grateful to its artistic director, Sergei Pavlovich Roldugin, for that. I had the amazing opportunity to play on great venues, attend fascinating master classes, play with other musicians, and work with great orchestras. In 2018, I participated in the River of Talents project and was chosen based on the results of this project to play a recital in Kazan, at the Saydashev Great Concert Hall, where I played with the National Orchestra of the Republic of Tatarstan conducted by Ilya Derbilov. It was an absolutely unforgettable feeling of unity with the orchestra, when it seemed that the orchestra literally breathed with you and was always ready to follow you, to adjust to any of your performing choices right in the course of the performance. I still consider this concert to be one of my most successful, and it is all due to the support of such an amazing orchestra and, of course, Sergei Pavlovich, for without whom this concert would not have taken place.
SPDM: Your next performance is on December 8 in St. Petersburg as part of the St. Petersburg Music House's Young Interpreters of Russia. Beethoven's Concerto No. 5 is a serious challenge; it has been performed by many renowned pianists: Vladimir Horowitz, Arthur Rubinstein, Edwin Fischer, Glenn Gould, the list goes on... And each has a different Beethoven. What is the most important, the most fundamental thing for you in this concerto?
Dmitriy Yudin: There is no doubt that this concerto is a very difficult challenge for any pianist and requires a certain amount of performance maturity to convey all the meanings, feelings, and contrasts that Beethoven put into this music. Perhaps the key feature of this particular concerto is that it stands somewhat between the eras - the classical and the romantic ones - and bears the very specific features of both. On the one hand, we have the traditional three-movement cycle with its classical form; on the other hand, we have the improvisational nature and the many small cadenzas that are part of the form, which is more characteristic of Romanticism. This concerto seems to me, to a certain extent, to be the "ancestor" of Liszt's concertos, sharing the same scale, will, virtuoso sweep, improvisation, and pathetics with the concertos of these two great composers. For me, it is the contrast between severity and improvisation that is fundamental to Concerto No. 5, and that makes it so special for me personally.
SPDM: Who among the classical composers would you like to chat with about life, music, some simple, everyday things, if you lived with him at the same age?
Dmitriy Yudin: I think, Prokofiev. His irony, his sarcasm, and at the same time his childlike naivety and boyish fervor are close to me in his music. Like, he's almost never sincere with you all the way through, it makes you very curious, wanting to talk, to get to know him better.
SPDM: Are you interested in contemporary youth music?
Dmitriy Yudin: Yeah, I got interested in it when I had rappers singing outside my window at three in the morning. That was last year, but now it's stopped. That's when I was forced to become interested in it.
SPDM: Playing in public is always excitement, and playing in a competition is also stressful. Do you have any techniques for dealing with excitement, so that nothing interferes with the music?
Dmitriy Yudin: I just try not to think about any distractions and focus solely on the music I'm playing. I think it's the right way to go.
SPDM: Every dramatic actor has forgotten a text on stage at least once in his or her life. If a musician has something like this happen, how do you get out of the situation?
Dmitriy Yudin: The most important thing here is not to stop. You can play anything you want, take approximate harmonies, some common chords, but don't stop and stay in the character of the piece. It's rare that you don't remember the text at all until the end of the piece, most often it's a certain place. The most important thing here is to just endure, keep your composure and try to get out of it, at the very least, improvise.
SPDM: What was the most unexpected thing that happened to you during your performances?
Dmitriy Yudin: I vividly remember one performance with an orchestra. I was about 15-16 years old, playing Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1 (this performance was before I even got to the Music House). We play the first part, we get to the climax in the middle, the most emotionally intense place in the whole part, and suddenly I hear the drummer intro, which has nothing to do with what's going on. Then I realized that he was learning his part for the finale right during the concert while we were playing the first part... After that nothing else on stage seemed unexpected.
SPDM: Tell us about your musical plans, what do you want to play, with which ensemble, maybe try a new role, switch to another instrument?
Dmitriy Yudin: There are quite a lot of them. Among the solos I would most like to play Hindemith Ludus Tonalis and Granados Goyeski, in this respect I rather prefer large cycles. Among concertos with orchestra - all Rachmaninov concertos with the Mariinsky Theater orchestra and Valery Gergiev, that's my dream! And as for the instrument - for now the piano is enough for me, a lifetime is not enough to play everything written for it and that I myself would like to play. So we can say that at least this dream of mine initially came true.
Interview by Tatiana Mikhailova