Alexander Borovsky

Alexander Borovsky: Alexander Borovsky

[...] Then after the rehearsal with the orchestra the conductor physician (who is not identified) asked me to come to his house and to have tea there. I gladly accepted and when I was drinking the third cup or so, he asked me whether I would like to listen to a young boy of 15 years of age who would play for me. My conductor offered me to continue my tea in the room, and the boy would then play in the next room, and I must not move at all for it. So, the boy whom I even did not see then started to play and in two minutes I left my tea and was at his side marveling at the precision of his fingers and the great sense of rhythm. I asked him to play more and more; probably it was not before an hour and half passed when I asked him his name. I am Emil Gilels, he told me. But what are you doing here in Odessa. I am taking piano lessons with Bertha Michailowna. My God, but why in Odessa, where is she. Then came his lady teacher, and I told them that he must go immediately to Moscow. Is he ready for it, asked his teacher. I assured them that he is absolutely ready for it, and I offered to give them the introductory letters to two of the best teachers of the Moscow Conservatory, Igumnow and Neuhaus. These names were very familiar to both of them. I was so startled by my discovery that it impressed the boy forever, so few years later when he came for the first time to Leningrad and I was there with my concerts just at this time I read his interview where he described the scene when an “old” pianist, Borovsky, did not want to hear him and stayed in another room, but when he started to play I came at once to his piano and asked him to play for me for an hour and half. I was impressed but also sadly touched by the world, “old,” and it was more than thirty years ago. Now Gilels is probably the best Russian pianist, but still his chief qualities are the same precision of the fingers, steady rhythm and great assurance in his straightforward performances, to which he added lately a grace and intricate finesse. This meeting proved once more that Odessa was the mother city for several Russian musicians, like Milstein, Oistrach, Gilels and Moiseivitsch.[...]

(excerpt from the unpublished Memoirs (1959) of Alexander K. Borovsky (1889-1968), with kind permission of Mr. William J Jones, Jr. of Delmar, NY, USA).