I THE ORIGIN: When did you start playing the Piano?
It all depends on what we understand by playing the Piano: because if we mean approaching it, opening it up and playing around on its keys, I was already doing that on the piano we had at home when I was five years old; now, when mean studying the Piano professionally, I started when I was 7 years old when I became part of the so-called “highly-gifted children group” of the Music Conservatoire at Tbilisi (the capital-city of the Soviet Republic of Georgia at the time).
The person that most inspired my love for music was my grandmother on my mother’s side, she was a Pianist and she went as far as to study with the famous Professor at the Berlin Conservatoire Xaver Scharwenka.
II THE PIANO: As an instrument, what are the best and the worst things about the Piano?
Why talk about the weak spots? I prefer to concentrate on the strong spots because the Piano is an unique instrument, with incredible characteristics that make it similar to an Orchestra.
III THE EDUCATION: What advice would you give to Piano students?
Instead of giving advice to students, I would give it to the teachers, to those who teach young children. My advice is that instead of tormenting them with exercises, they should instil in them the love for Music in order for them to transform music into the most important something for their lives.
Only by instilling in them the love for music can something be achieved: the innate qualities are important, of course, but instilling in them the feeling of not being able to live without it is fundamental; it is exactly what both my grandmother and my second teacher taught me, my beloved teacher Anastasia Virsaladze, she was a disciple of the greatest Russian Pianist from the time prior to the Revolution, Anna Esipova.
IV LIFE: What is the best thing that life has given you?
The best thing that life has given me is Music. I even told my wife that she had to know it, and I made it very clear to her that she would never be the absolute protagonist in my life. When she asked me, with a frown, who that would be, I answered not “who” but “what”: that would be Music.
V THE INSTRUMENT: And the best thing the Piano has given you?
It has made me happy, because the Piano never stops surprising me. That is the miracle of the Piano: judging by its appearances it is no more than a black box composed of wood, metal and plastic (ivory before), dead matter, apparently inert, but if you treat it like a living being that is how it responds, in the same way.
VI THE STUDENTS: And the best thing your students have given you?
If I were to mention all my students, and I don’t mean just the best but also those who have an international career, it would take a very long time. Besides, I prefer not to answer this question as some of my estimated colleagues do, talking about the number of prize-winners.
I am interested in encouraging them for their whole life and not only to motivate them while they are with me. I have to provide them with that drive for the future, when they are no longer with me.
My happiness as a Professor consists in it, that in spite of not having many students, they are usually no more than 10 per class, my former students now playing all around the world are many and that fills me with happiness.