Spiro Ark

Registered Charity No 1070926

Valentin Berlinsky A Quartet For Life

Kahn & Averill and the Spiro Ark  invite you to a social evening to celebrate the publication of


By Maria Matalaev Foreword by Steven Isserlis
Publishers: Kahn & Averill

DATE: Wednesday 17th of July 
Time: 17.30 ( 18:00 start)
Venue: The David Josefowitz Recital Hall,
Royal Academy of Music,
Tickets: £10

Valentin Berlinsky (1925-2008), was a founding member of the Borodin Quartet and its cellist and mainstay for more than six decades. A proud Russian but also a man of compromise, his was a life lived for and through the Borodin Quartet. This book tells his story in his own words, lovingly compiled and edited by his granddaughter, Maria Matalaev, from his diaries , correspondence and interviews, and his accounts of his close friendships with the likes of Shostakovich and
Richter, Rostropovich and Oistrakh. Supplemented by tributes from family and friends, as well as an impressive annexure giving every performance, broadcast and recording made by the Borodin Quartet, this book constitutes one of the most revealing chronicles of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian musical life.

“On so many levels, this is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read….”
“Conjured from a rich mix of sources – Berlinsky’s diary, reviews, interviews published for the first time – what
emerges from the book is a profound musician fanatically dedicated to the quartet and the repertoire it excelled
in.” Daniel Jaffé, BBC Music Magazine

“The pen portraits of the quartet’s teachers and mentors, the day-to-day struggles, the touring, the rehearsals,
the ‘constitutions’ that the Borodin drew up in order to achieve smooth running of their affairs – all of these
things will interest the general reader.”
“The chapter on Sviatoslav Richter is fascinating…. The interview with the cellist’s daughter, the pianist
Ludmila Berlinskaya, is very touching.” The Strad

“Despite the diversity of the contents, the book reads like a novel, plunging the reader into the daily constraints
in which Soviet musicians were obliged to function. Berlinsky does not evade the multiple difficulties that
constantly confront the Quartet but shows no bitterness towards his country which he always refused to leave.”
Sebastien Foucart, Concertonet.com

“Here is a book created with such passion that even those who question the place of music in today’s world will
have their faith restored. The Borodin Quartet was to the string quartet what Richter was to the piano, Oistrakh
to the violin, Rostropovich to the cello. But the story of this Soviet ensemble – the first to come out of the USSR
to give concerts abroad – was inextricably linked to the personality of its founder, the cellist Valentin
Berlinsky.” Franck Mallet, Classica

“Above all, what shines through is the incredible destiny of a magnificent chamber group which, despite the
incessant discriminations due to the Jewish origin of some of its members, would become, world-wide and for
decades, the most prestigious symbol of the Russian school of quartet playing.’ ‘Enriched by numerous annexes
and a discography, this book throws new light, remarkably well documented, on both an individual and a
collective experience, undoubtedly unique in the history of the string quartet.” Patrick Szersnovicz, Diapason

“Siberian childhood, musical apprenticeship in Moscow, war, the funeral of Stalin, greatness and subjugation,
exceptional figures, tours abroad, requirements, success, advice from Shostakovich in person, all are
abundantly reproduced here, but also ethics, pedagogy and thoughts on the profession. Certainly the most
captivating document on the art of interpretation that we have seen in the last several years.” Frederic
Gaussin, Lettre du musicien No.462

“The more I read, the more absorbed and touched I was.” Steven Isserlis

About the Author:
Born in Paris to a family of eminent Russian musicians, Maria Matalaev began her career as a pianist, completing her studies at the Regional Conservatory and the École Normale de Musique A. Cortot in Paris. Winner of several international awards, Maria started performing with orchestras at the age of 15 and has since played as a soloist or chamber musician throughout Europe at prestigious venues such as the Wigmore Hall in London, the Gaveau and Cortot halls in
Paris, and the Great and Small Halls of the Moscow Conservatory. After gaining a bachelor’s degree in Applied Modern Literature at the Sorbonne, Maria worked in the field of art history before returning to music as an audience development manager working with the Secession Orchestra and the piano duet Berlinskaya-Ancelle. She gained a master’s degree in Arts, Letters and Civilization majoring in contemporary literature, from the Sorbonne, and in 2013 began translating and editing the memoirs of her grandfather, Valentin Berlinsky, the celebrated cellist and founder of the Borodin Quartet. First published in French, the book was awarded the 2016 “Prix du Témoignage” at the Prix des Muses. With her experience as an accomplished chamber musician and with her knowledge of contemporary literature, art history and a mastery of a number of foreign languages, Maria now teaches piano and literature in Paris.