Nelly Akopian-Tamarina

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Nelly Akopian-Tamarina is a Russian pianist.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Moscow, she studied with Anaida Sumbatyan at the Moscow Central Music School. Later at the Moscow Conservatoire she was one of the last students of the legendary Alexander Borisovich Goldenweiser — associate and friend of Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Nikolai Medtner — and the first student of Dmitri Bashkirov. Through her teachers she carries on this branch of the old Russian piano tradition, reaching back to Franz Liszt, Alexander Siloti, Felix Blumenfeld, and Anton Rubinstein.

As a student Akopian-Tamarina won the Gold Medal at the 1963 Robert Schumann International Competition for Pianists and Singers in Zwickau, and in 1974, succeeding Richter, Nikolayeva and Gilels, was awarded the Robert Schumann Prize. A former Soloist of the Moscow State Philharmonie, she appeared as a recitalist and with all the leading orchestras of the former U.S.S.R. and Eastern Bloc.


Her recordings for Melodiya — including Chopin's Preludes op.28, and the Schumann Piano Concerto with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra — are now collectors' items. During the 1970s, however, her career was blocked by official censorship, preventing her from giving public concerts for more than a decade. In the isolation of these years, she turned to painting for artistic self-expression, her watercolours being selected for exhibition in Moscow.

Akopian-Tamarina made her London debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in March 1983 (a programme of Schumann and Chopin) followed by engagements around the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe including Amsterdam's Concertgebouw. Her first British recording, the Schumann Fantasy (Brilliant Classics, Legendary Russian Pianists, 2009), dates from this period.

In the 1990s she gave a series of masterclasses in Prague at the Palfi Palace as Artistic Consultant to the Prague Conservatory. She also gave masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music in London. In 1997, to commemorate the centenary of Brahms's death, she embarked on a recording cycle of the composer's works for Conifer/BMG and appeared to outstanding critical acclaim at the Dvorak Hall of the Prague Rudolfinum to open both the international piano series of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and the chamber season of the Czech Philharmonic.

In October 2002, following an absence of twenty-five years, she went back to Russia to play at the Bolshoi Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire. During the 2006–2007 season, engagements included the Schumann Piano Concerto, which she had not programmed for over two decades, with the Ukraine State Philharmonic in Kiev, marking the 150th anniversary of the composer's death.

In January 2008 she returned to the London concert stage with a critically admired all-Brahms programme (Opp 10, 76, 117) in the Wigmore Hall.[1] Reporting the occasion in International Piano (July/August 2008, p 7), Ates Orga noted her 'luminous fortissimi, ice-edged chords, fine pianissimos, deliberated textures, intricate pedalling, and expansive, singing melodies. Following Neuhaus, she is a strong believer in allegory as a passport to other worlds and states of mind. Phrasing, pausing, breathing, silence, the language of meaning, feeling and communication, is her universe. She takes listeners back to a distant, lost past.' A recital of music by Schubert, Janáček and Chopin followed in the same venue on March 23, 2009.

Making her own contribution to the Schumann bicentenary, she gave a recital devoted to the composer's music in the Wigmore Hall on December 9, 2010.[2] Commenting in the Sunday Times (19 December 2010), Paul Driver observed: 'The piano sound made by the Moscow-born Nelly Akopian-Tamarina was not only distinctive, but almost tangible … a sound one associates with … intense performer liberty, with a playing tradition going back to the giants of the past, to Rachmaninov, Moiseiwitsch, Scriabin and what we imagine of Liszt … a fragile, poetic creation in every fold of her dress and with each flick of the wrist'.

In 2017 she released her first recording with PENTATONE, for which she recorded Ballades op. 10 and Variations & Fugue on a theme by Handel by Brahms.

She is represented by IMG Artists.[3]


  1. ^ Wigmore Hall, 30 January 2008. Nelly Akopian-Tamarina Piano Tone Poems, programme and biographical notes
  2. ^ Wigmore Hall
  3. ^ "IMG Artists". 

Further reading[edit]

  • KOCIEJOWSKI, Marius. God's Zoo: Artists, Exiles, Londoners (Carcanet, 2014) contains a biographical chapter "My Problem with Brahms – And how Nelly Akopian-Tamarina Came to the Rescue".

External links[edit]