The history of evolution and development of piano performance in Uzbekistan is indivisibly linked with a music boarding school, which is now called the Republican Vocational Musical Academic Lyceum (RVMAL) named after V. Uspenskiy. The 70th anniversary of the school was marked in November 2009. Over the many years of its history the lyceum trained many gifted young musicians who now work in many education institutions of the country. The lyceum graduates are known not only at home, but also abroad, primarily due to high professionalism of the faculty, specifically in the piano department that for many years has been headed by Ms. A. Kim, merited worker of arts of Uzbekistan and graduate of the Uspenskiy school.
Among the pedagogues who have worked for a long time in the department are T. A. Popovich, L. R. Florentyeva, G.G. Ardashirova and E. E. Gelbukh who have spent more than 40 years with the school, and also L. A. Mukhitdinova, G. K. Umarova and many others. Among their students are: Irena Gulzarova, scholarship winner of the Spivakov International Charity Foundation (2000) and winner of a scholarship awarded by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan (2003); Vladislav Kos’minov, laureate of a republican and international contests; Nodira Dadamukhamedova, laureate of many a contest, and first prize winner at international contests in Portugal (Fundao, 2007) and Romania (Bucharest, 2008); Elena Kan who won first prizes at an international festival in Germany (Berlin) and «The Blue Bird» music contest in Simferopol (Ukraine), at al.
The school graduates include pianists with names known worldwide. They are Stanislav Yudenich, the winner of the first prize and a gold medal at the 11th Van Cliburn international contest of pianists, and Eldar Nebol’sin — Grand Prix at an international contest in Spain and the winner of the First S. Richter International Contest of pianists (2005), about whom Yuriy Temirkanov, prominent Russian conductor and jury member said after the contest: «This is a remarkable, top-class musician and a virtuoso pianist» (student of N. S. Vasinkina).
In the autumn of 2010 the continuous work record in the lyceum of Tamara Afanasyevna Popovich, Merited Teacher of Uzbekistan and Honorary Professor of the Tashkent State Conservatory, will be 50 years. She trained many talented musicians, and all her students continued their education at the most prestigious higher music schools of the world. Almost all of them are laureates of national and international contests, successfully tour the world, teach in the best music schools in Uzbekistan and other countries, and have themselves already trained a new generation of gifted performers. Here is a story about some of them.
Among the first students who graduated from the class of Tamara Popovich are the present teachers at the Uspenskiy lyceum J. Yuldashev and L. Mukhitdinova who successfully combines her pedagogical work with the functions of a deputy director for music.
Former student of the Uspenskiy lyceum are Adiba Sharipova, Professor of the State Conservatory, and Elmira Mirkasymova, Associate Professor — both graduated from the Moscow Conservatory. Presently they rank among the most remarkable performers in Uzbekistan, and their students worthily represent our republic in many countries worldwide.
In 1993 Anna Malikova won at the ARD International Contest in Munich. For the first time in 12 years the winner was a pianist. This victory is especially significant as it is rarely attained, thus occupying particularly important place among the achievements of piano-playing school. Currently, Malikova is a Professor of the Munich Conservatory and an actively touring performer. Germany is also a working ground for Ulugbek Palvanov who was recognized as the 2009 most remarkable performer, and also for Barno Khaknazarova and Bekhzod Abdullaev.
After finishing the Uspenskiy school Irina Chukovskaya (Petrova) continued her education in Moscow with Professor V. V. Gornostaeva at the Central Music School under the Moscow Conservatory, and then entered the Moscow Conservatory, the class of a well-known pianist, Professor S. G. Neigauz and V. V. Gornostaeva; in the post-graduate course her teacher was the famous Professor D. A. Bashkirov. Chukovskaya spent many years in the United States where she gave more than 700 concerts. Presently, the pianist lives in Moscow, continues to perform at concerts, combining this activity with teaching at the Gnesiny Russian Music Academy and the Moscow Conservatory.
Evgeniy Murskiy is the winner of the highest award — the Grand Prix at the international contest «National Power» (London, 1994). He received the prize from the hands of Princess Diana.
In April 2009 the Grand Prix was given to Bekhzod Abduraimov, another student of Tamara Popovich and the youngest among 100 contestants in this most prestigious competition. The special value of the victory won by our young 18 year-old compatriot is in the fact that the contest ranks among five most challenging ones in the WFIMC — The World Federation of International Music Competitions. It is held once in three years under the patronage of the Prince of Wales. The WFIMC has about 120 contests, many of which are not held every year. Apart from that, there is a European Union of Music Competitions for Youth (EMCY). According to S. Aronova, chair of the competition, «Abduraimov’s victory shows the presence of a strong piano-playing school in Uzbekistan, and such brilliant pianists are born once in a century». Currently, Abduraimov is not only a student at the Park Music University in the United States, but also an active performer with a touring schedule filled for several years ahead.
In 1996 Lola Astanova was included into the «Planet’s New Names» Programme. Her performance features in a UNESCO documentary «The 20th Century Prodigies». She is among the pianists holding the Steinway Artists title. This honorary title was also given to prominent performers such as Vladimir Ashkenasi, Rudolf Kehrer, Nikolai Petrov, Mikhail Pletnyov, Vladimir Krainev, Evgeniy Kisin and Alexei Sultanov.
Tamila Salimjanova is a young musician, yet among those who have already earned a reputation of a developed and mature talent. She is a student of a Central Music School at the Moscow Conservatory, attending the class of the famed Professor I. N. Plotnikova. Besides her numerous victories at international contests, Salimjanova is a laureate of the Spivakov International Charity Foundation (2008), and despite her young age she was privileged to give solo concerts in the Grand Hall of the Moscow State Conservatory named after P. I. Chaikovskiy.
Brothers Naufal and Nuron Mukimiy are students at the Purcell School of Music — lead British music school with worldwide reputation. Having graduated from a conservatory in Germany, Fazlitdin Khusanov, another student of Tamara Popovich, works in the UK. Yet this is not an exhaustive list of her students.
Fatima Akhmadova (grade 8) and Bekhruz Nematov (grade 9) currently attend the class of Professor Popovich; they are repeated award-winners at international contests. Apart from that they give solo concerts and perform with an orchestra on the best stages of Uzbekistan. The youngest student of Tamara Popovich is an 8 year-old Iskandar Mamadaliev.
Alexei Sultanov was Popovich’s particularly prominent student. The most significant of his victories include the gold medal and the first prize at the Van Cliburn competition (1989) where he was the youngest 20 year-old performer who received this prestigious award, and the winning of the Chopin contest in Warsaw (1995) with the second prize (the first prize had not been given to anyone). This is what Popovich said about her student: «Alyosha has the ability to think in grand musical scale and is very emotionally gifted. He is a brilliant performer with no fear of stage». And the feedback from critics was as follows: «His element is music that is powerful and imperious, the one that sounds on its emotional limit»; «He has Beethoven’s drive, he is vulnerable like Chopin, and his genius is that of Mozart». They called Sultanov «the most brilliant representative of a very special class of volcanic pianists», «the most colourful and scintillating talent, an interpreter of great temperament and elemental power who seems to expose the soul of every composer». Regrettably, one of the most remarkable young pianists and, undoubtedly, the superstar in Uzbekistan, Alexei Sultanov passed away prematurely at the age of 36. Now there is a plan to run an international contest for young performers dedicated to A. Sultanov, and we hope that this idea will be implemented and his name immortalized in this beautiful music festival.
Lead pedagogues of Uzbekistan have accumulated wealth of experience in delivering musical education in the country’s schools, primarily in the RVMAL named after Uspenskiy. Significant achievements of the Uzbekistan’s school of piano playing at the global arena testify to the successful introduction of European music culture into the local one, and are the indication of the emergence — as a result of the reciprocal enrichment — of a totally new Uzbek pedagogical system for educating and training young pianists, which has been recognized worldwide. Unfortunately, any research or methodological guidelines in this area are basically non-existent. Thus, pedagogues, methodologists, musicologists and scholars who work in the domain of musical art, are faced with a serious task of studying, analysing, comprehending and introducing the experience gained by the lead experts in this field in today’s education process at secondary, vocational and higher education institutions.