Being constantly criticised for excessive emotion and movement by her piano professors, Olga Bobrovnikova took inspiration and a new attitude to performance when she heard the recordings made in the 1890s of a forgotten pianist, Paul Pabst, who Tchaikovsky has called “a pianist blessed by God”.
Her diagnosis of MS coincided with her discovery of Pabst and his music, and in her typically defiant way, she set out to record Pabst’s exceptionally difficult piano paraphrases of Tchaikovsky operas as well as a trio that has been dedicated to Anton Rubinstein and also to make the first ever recording of Pabst’s own piano concerto.
Her research into Pabst was like a backdoor into the secrets of Russian musical history, which led to Olga’s novel The Diaries of Alexandra Petrovna. She was drawn by the circumstances and their relationship to the conclusion that Pabst’s was the hidden hand that Tchaikovsky admitted he needed to help with the passages of his “Piano Concerto No. 1”.
Her immersion in this lost history of the Russian Piano School revealed major differences in and controversy regarding the style of piano performance as well as coinciding with a growing interest in the brain and music. A passion for pleasure in performance and a study of the neurology of her MS-damaged brain created this unique book, which is a fusion of fascinating musical history, a wide review of scientific research, and detail of a new performance method.
Professor Cyril Hoschl: “The book is really impressive!”