“The flute’s sound has mesmerized me since the day I was born”
Peter Khudonogov was born in Krasnoyarsk in 1999. He graduated from the Krasnoyarsk Children’s School of Music No. 2 and the Ivanov-Radkevich College of Arts, studying with Sergei Khudonogov at both schools. Since 2017, Peter has been a student at the Hvorostovsky Siberian State Institute of Arts, where he studies with Honored Artist of Russia, Associate Professor Anatoly Ivanov. At the age of 12, Peter won the grand prize in Denis Matsuev’s New Names of Russia regional contest. In 2020, the flautist won gold medals at the Second Vienna International Competition and the Russian Youth Delphic Games, as well as a silver medal at the Manhattan International Competition. In 2021, he won the International Flute Competition in Varna and the Anton Rubinstein International Online Competition in Düsseldorf. Peter has been playing with the Krasnoyarsk Academic Symphony Orchestra since 2015 and has performed as a soloist there since 2020 Peter has taken part in the programs of the Saint Petersburg Music House since 2018.
Peter Khudonogov: I was exposed to the sound of the flute in my early childhood, as my dad often played it at home before recitals—he is flute group leader in the Krasnoyarsk Academic Symphony Orchestra I always loved the distinctive sound, the soft, enveloping, silvery timbre of the flute. I started my journey into the world of music when I was four years old. I vividly remember the first time I went to a music school, to preparatory class with my dad as a teacher. Studying was not a burden for me because I began my studies with the dream of achieving my dad’s level of mastery with the flute and becoming a pro in my field. Naturally, like most aspiring musicians, I’ve had my struggles, but they kept me going and motivated me to practice even harder. Switching instrument was not an option — the sound of the flute fascinated me from the very day I was born.
Saint Petersburg Music House (SPMH): Speaking of outstanding flautists, the first thing people note is the quality of their timbre. Who do you think has the most beautiful timbre?
Peter Khudonogov: Indeed, flautists are distinguished by their timbre, the coloring of their sound, which constitutes the hallmark of every flautist I enjoyed listening to various flautists since my early childhood, both on audio recordings and live, which is certainly very important and requisite for one’s growth as an artist. In fact, there are many excellent flautists who have mastered the instrument all over the world. I personally love Emmanuel Paju, an outstanding Swiss flute virtuoso, for the warmth of his sound and his tone color. The miraculous sounds he achieves touch you to the core, helping you listen to yourself and experience the emotions of whatever musical masterpiece he is performing.
SPMH: It’s the musician who is responsible for how a flute sounds. Have you found your sound yet?
Peter Khudonogov: I completely agree. Of course, it is the performer who imbues his instrument’s sound with its distinctive color and warmth. Every flautist’s sound is unique. As for me, I have my own inner ideas and intimations of how my instrument should sound, and I achieve these by working on my flute tone every day, gradually bringing it closer to my inner ideal timbre.
SPMH:What were the most important lessons in mastery that you learned? Who were your teachers?
Peter Khudonogov: The first teacher is undoubtedly very important for every aspiring musician. This is who will often determine a young performer’s subsequent growth. I was very lucky because I started my studies at music school with my father, Sergei Khudonogov. He sought to impart on me all the performing skills that he himself possesses. Another great influence on my artistic development during my study at music school was the New Names art school in Suzdal. I was invited there by People’s Artist of Russia Denis Matsuev, after I won the New Names of Russia regional contest in 2011. Over the next six years, I received grants from the New Names foundation and master classes from the top flautists of our country—Alexander Golyshev, Oleg Khudyakov and Albert Hoffman. Thanks to the Saint Petersburg Music House, I have also been able to take very important master classes with outstanding flautists, such as Denis Lupachev, Olga Chernyadieva, and Vincent Lucas.
SPMH: Your repertoire is very varied: from absolute classics (Bach, Mozart, Gluck, etc.) to foreign pop (Last), Soviet music (Weinberg) and modern compositions (Magalif)—how do you decide what to include?
Peter Khudonogov: Naturally, I have been building my concert repertoire little by little. I try to keep it up to date, constantly adding new musical masterpieces that I think audiences should hear. I add some compositions as I prepare for international competitions and recitals, and some I learn deliberately in order to acquire a better understanding of their composer, style, or epoch. For instance, one of my favorite composers since childhood was and remains the great Austrian genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Sadly, he did not write as many pieces for flute as he did for other instruments, but certainly each of his compositions is a true masterpiece. As a child, I played many of his compositions from the school playbook: the famous arias from Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute. Gradually, I moved on to Mozart’s longer pieces, such as The Andante in C for Flute and Orchestra. Later on, I turned to his famous flute concertos in G Major and D Major, which are kind of benchmarks and very often included in the required list of compositions for most renowned international music competitions.
SPMH: What pieces have had the strongest emotional impact on you?
Peter Khudonogov: The First Flute Concerto by Soviet composer Mieczysław Weinberg deeply impressed me emotionally. The life and destiny of this great composer was very hard and tragic. During World War II, Weinberg lost all of his family and friends, who were killed by the Nazis in death camps. The pain of this loss left an indelible mark on the composer’s entire oeuvre. He wrote his flute concerto in 1961. In it, Weinberg recounts the events of World War II, from the German offensive in the first part, to the ultimate victory over them and the triumph of justice in the concerto’s finale. I had strong feelings about the slow second movement—it represents, according to the composer himself, memories and lamentations for those who died in the war. Unfortunately, this concerto is not often performed in Russia, but thanks to the Saint Petersburg Music House, I had the great privilege of performing it with the Tula Symphony Orchestra and maestro Igor Manasherov as part of the Musical Team of Russia concert series, and for that I am very grateful.
SPMH: Is there any music that you hate?
Peter Khudonogov: I strongly believe that all music is beautiful, although some pieces touch your heart more and some a little less. However, I believe that every piece of music has a right to exist as a personal reflection of the composer’s feelings and experiences.
SPMH:As of late, the geographical limits for musical tours have shrunk considerably. Does this affect your own artistic plans? Have you discovered new domestic venues or new performance formats?
Peter Khudonogov: Of course, the current political situation caused some adjustments in my artistic plans — I had to cancel my participation in major foreign music competitions this spring. On the other hand, this gave me more time to prepare for no less important and significant international competitions scheduled for the fall and winter of the coming season. As far as concerts and work in Russia are concerned, there are no changes for me—everything goes on as planned. Naturally, I always try to discover new concert venues so that I can share my art with audiences in the different cities of our country.
SPMH: How important are the projects of the Saint Petersburg Music House in your career? Is there anything else you would like to do as part of these projects?
Peter Khudonogov: My collaboration with the Saint Petersburg Music House began back in 2018, when I began taking master classes with Denis Lupachev as part of the Embassy of Musical Mastery project. That was in my hometown of Krasnoyarsk, and those workshops were very important for me. They provided me with fresh feedback on my creativity. I felt like playing more, growing professionally, and taking part in serious international competitions. The next, even more important milestone was the River of Talents project and the fall master classes at the Saint Petersburg Music House with Olga Chernyadieva, which offered me the unique opportunity to perform with one of the best orchestras in Russia—the Nizhny Novgorod Academic Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Alexander Skulsky. Over the years of my cooperation with Saint Petersburg Music House, I was privileged to perform at top concert venues in our country: Nizhny Novgorod, Saint Petersburg, Tula, Sochi, Kaliningrad, as well as taking part in the Embassy of Musical Mastery recitals in Greece. Thanks to master classes offered by the Saint Petersburg Music House and the opportunity to perform my competition program in concerts with orchestras, I have achieved good results in various international competitions, both in Russia (winning the gold medal at the Delphic Games of Russia, the first prize at the Siberian Musical Assemblies and others) and abroad: I won the Sixth International Flute Competition in Varna, Bulgaria and the Anton Rubinstein International Competition in Düsseldorf, Germany. I am sincerely grateful to the management of the Saint Petersburg Music House and personally to Maestro Sergei Roldugin for their vital support, which certainly helped me a great deal in my professional growth and in the honing of my skills. I very much want to continue my close artistic collaboration with Saint Petersburg Music House, because it serves as a very important motivator for my further artistic progress.
Interview by Tatiana Mikhailova