Genova & Dimitrov Piano Duo are Aglika Genova and Liuben Dimitrov
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Aglika: My mother who, being concert master at the Symphony & Opera Orchestra in Plovdiv in Bulgaria, took me from the age of 3 almost every day to the rehearsals and appearances in the Opera House, where I listened all day to opera and symphonic music. Deeply impressed by her playing, I wanted to play “a very small violin” as well, but she said: “No second violin in the house”. In a family council, my father, a gifted singer, succeeded in suggesting the idea of me playing the piano.
Liuben: My mother was Chief Opera Répétiteur in the Opera House in my home town of Russe on the Danube River and also taught piano at the Special Music School for Gifted Children there. Being so fascinated by this, I asked her to teach me to play as well. Overworked at the time, she dismissed this idea, but my grandmother, also a piano teacher and choral singer, couldn’t overlook this, so she put me on the piano, and showed me the first scales. I grew up almost entirely in the Russe Opera House, where my father, a world-renowned singer, was the soloist in all the major opera works on stage. An incredible and unforgettable experience for a child!
Aglika + Liuben: Further on, we obtained our strongest influences from our amazing, incomparable and inimitable teachers – Pepa Selvelieva, Stela Oslekova and Rositsa Ivancheva at the Special Music Schools for Gifted Children both in Russe and in Plovdiv; Prof. Julia & Konstantin Ganev who began to work with us as scholars and later on as students at the National Academy of Music in Sofia; and finally, Prof. Vladimir Krainev at the Hannover University of Music in Germany, our musical “father” and mentor for almost 20 years. As pupils of Heinrich Neuhaus and his closest students, all of them trained us in a piano tradition that was immortal, internationally acclaimed and universal in its musical approach.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
To win all major international piano duo competitions within 2 years. To realize world premiere CD recordings of works by Franz Liszt and Sergei Rachmaninoff, or any other of our 16 CD releases, and, simultaneously, our regular international concert and festival appearances.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
Besides the above mentioned world premiere recordings like Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Anton Arensky, J C Bach, Muzio Clementi, Dimitri Shostakovitch or Pantcho Vladigerov, we are one of the very few piano duos worldwide with such a large discography of works for piano duo & orchestra. Therefore, we are especially proud of CD releases such as “Mendelssohn’s Two Piano Concertos 1 & 2”, “Martinu & Schnittke – Concertos for Piano Duo”, “French Concertos for 2 Pianos – Poulenc, Milhaud, Casadesus”, “Bela Bartok & Victor Babin – Concertos for Two Pianos”, “Carl Czerny & Max Bruch – Concertos for Piano Duo”. For some of them we have been awarded the ECHO Classic, and have been nominated for the OPUS Classic, and the German Recording Critics Prize.
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
Audiences and critics alike would state many times: “Every work!” This is also how we feel. Probably because they all feel that every single work we are just about to perform somewhere in the world is THE work of our life. There is no other work before or after it. There is no previous performance of the same work. We just live it now. And we let the audience live it with us together.
What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?
Observing nature: mountains, fields, seas and oceans, swimming, playing golf.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
There is such an infinite amount of brilliant, impressive works written for piano duo at 2 pianos or piano 4-hands! Every time we start to think about a certain programme idea and begin doing some research, another 3 or 4 new ideas for other composers and works come out. As our beloved teacher Vladimir Krainev said once: “You, children have programme and repertoire ideas for the next 10 years”. During the process of creating our programmes, we always think about the audience, the people listening to our performances, how they would be involved in the story of it, how would they understand it. We never begin this process from books or the internet – this is only supporting information. Sometimes, some concert and festival promoters, whose opinion we trust, give us certain ideas that we are happy to take and develop further.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
No, every time and place we enjoy fully. Even when we visit a place for the third, fourth or fifth time, we enjoy it again as new and as never before. We play with the same pleasure in venues of 100 seats as a venue of 5000 seats alike, both in recital and with an orchestra.
What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?
To let children be introduced to classical music at as early an age as possible, to feel it is a natural part of their life, to play some instrument even for a short time, to visit opera (especially opera!) or concerts. It’s not necessary to make it their profession, it is like a magic touch of a fairy that one never forgets. We have experienced it already numerous times around the world – children who are put in touch with classical music at an early age are completely different human beings than those who have never been.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
They are all so very unique that it is truly difficult to say.
But there is still one: our recital in Bayreuth, Germany, two days after our beloved teacher Vladimir Krainev passed away. On the recital programme (decided with the concert promoter 18 months before) – Chopin’s Sonata in B-flat minor op.35, with the Funeral March movement in the arrangement for 2 pianos by Saint-Saëns. Only after finishing the entire concert programme and barely holding back the tears in our eyes, we announced to the audience that we had dedicated our performances that evening to our teacher who had left us just hours ago. Then, in the full Bayreuth concert hall one could truly FEEL the silence.
As musicians, what is your definition of success?
To touch, through music, the hearts and emotions of as many different people in audiences around the world as possible, regardless of skin colour, religion, profession, age or whatever other differences.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Deepest respect to the composer’s will.
Following their own honest way of artistic and human development, without trying to copy anybody else’s and whitout searching always for the quickest shortcut to success.