In the summer of 2007, the Vladimir Nielsen Piano Festival made its debut on an estate in a quiet neighborhood of the seaside village of Sag Harbor, New York. Watch Expanded Video
Philosophy and Legacy
At the heart of the Festival is the artistic legacy and teaching philosophy of the great twentieth-century pianist Vladimir Nielsen whose life was deeply connected to the musical culture of Russia, especially to the city of St. Petersburg.
The Festival provides an opportunity for aspiring and highly talented piano students to pursue intense music studies in a friendly, nurturing, family environment.
Artistic Director Victoria Mushkatkol, a dedicated pupil of Nielsen, describes the Festival's mission as continuing to draw from Nielsen's legacy and from her own many years of experience working with young talented students in USA and all over the world: to provide students with individual attention based on their needs and level of development, to help them further their creativity and realize their artistic potential.
The Festival is housed in a specially designed, newly remodeled living space with state-of-the-art practice, performing, recreation, and all-inclusive living facilities.
- The practice room area is completely soundproofed, isolated, and equipped with grand pianos from Steinway, official sponsor of the Festival.
- The newly built great hall, overlooking the grounds, is specially designed for indoor and outdoor performances.
- Recreational facilities include a heated pool and jacuzzi, and the Festival is just a short walk from the beach, and minutes from town and all the Hampton amenities.
Students, Classes, and Performances
During the Festival's four-week inaugural season, we had students from Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, Frankfurt Musikschule (Germany), Shanghai Conservatory, and Beijing Conservatory (China), Tbilisi Special Music School ( Georgia) among other leading schools from around the world.
During this time students received private lessons, master classes, piano ensemble, supervised practice sessions, and weekly classes in music theory and keyboard harmony. Each student participated in weekly concerts, open to the public.
The Festival's grand finale was a Gala Concert: “Celebration and Joy of Music Making.”
Students worked very hard, but not only hard work side by side brought them together. They got to know each other in those close quarters through spontaneously erupted evening of dancing, swimming pool games, through improvised ensemble playing and accompanying each other at the Concerto night.
In the first season, we achieved and surpassed our goals. Besides progressing toward artistic excellence, our students created an atmosphere of love, support, and friendship that would extend far beyond the Festivalor even the bounds of music.
We have become a family. Download Application
Vladimir Nielsen 1910-1998
A great teacher's influence extends throughout many generations. Although his name may not be well known outside the former Soviet Union, professor Vladimir Nielsen left a profound impact on the contemporary music scene, both as a performer and as a pedagogue, who inspired several generations of dedicated and gifted musicians. During his sixty years at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, he taught hundreds of pianists, carrying on the tradition of the famous St. Petersburg Piano School, combining his musical ideas with those of his teacher, the outstanding musician Nadezhda Golubovskaya.
Nielsen's performing career begun in the early 1930's and continued until late in his life- he played his last recital on his 85th birthday. For over half a century, St. Petersburg's rich cultural life was unimaginable without Nielsen's performances in the city's great concert halls, where he performed many concerts covering the entire range of the piano repertoire.
The cornerstone of his approach in performing and teaching was the treatment of music as an expressive, logical and living language.
In his teaching, he inspired his students to search reverently for the most truthful expression of the composers intentions by means of articulation, inflection, and sophisticated rhythmical, motivic, and harmonic relationships.
"His credo was: you must stand on your knees before the composer.” This reverential attitude towards the composer's intentions demands all from the performer: unity of intellectual analysis and intuition, the rational and the emotional. This seemingly paradoxical view caused many aspiring young pupils some hard times: fear of submission of the ego and loss of individuality. But on the contrary it served as solid foundation for individual creativity.
As a result of this “music comes first, instrument- second “approach there is wide range of professional musicians among his pupils : prominent conductors, composers as well as pianists.
Nielsen used to say: "when you play the piano, you have nowhere to hide. Musical talent is ability to speak , so that people listen to you. WHAT you have to say is who you are."
He taught us beauty and harmony, selflessness and love. I might add that - in the best tradition of Russian culture - he taught us, through music and art, to become better human beings.