Polina Osetinskaya ‘‘Farewell to sadness’’
Polina Osetinskaya, at the age of 6, gave her first solo concert at the Vilnius Philharmonic. By the age of 9, she was playing Beethoven’s Fifth Concerto with an orchestra. At age 10, Polina’s repertoire consisted of 30 hours of music; that is, more than 15 solo programmes. Today, Polina Osetinskaya is a virtuoso pianist with an impeccable and soulful style of playing, whose critics compare with the great Gilels and Richter. In the upcoming play ‘Unknown Friend’, which will soon take place in the theater of Patihio (Limassol), Polina plays along with Xenia Rappoport.
Polina, at the age of 6, you gave your first solo concert and, at age 9, you played the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven with an orchestra. Since then, you have performed at the best concert venues in Russia and abroad. Are you sorry for your lost childhood?
No, I’m not. I think that I got more. Having lost some signs of a cloudless childhood, I acquired the ability to survive in any situation and profession, with a strong will and a very large set of social skills that help me very much in this life.
It is known that the path to the world of music has been quite tough for you since childhood. Do you think, as a mother of three children, that parents should lead their children by force?
No, there should not be any of that here. There must be motivation and support because the child achieves more in an atmosphere of acceptance and support than in an atmosphere of domination and power. Here, it is necessary to be a psychologist because motivating and encouraging are abilities and talents. Through force, you will only spoil the attitude of the children towards you for a lifetime and make them unhappy, no matter what you give them. In general, in my situation, I survived in such conditions and whether another child with another psychotype will survive is unknown.
You wrote a very sincere and tough book, ‘‘Farewell to Sadness”. It was a kind of purification of the soul from everything that was aching. What feelings did you have after writing?
Since this book helped me to structure this history, to live it anew and to put something in its place, it became, for me (if I may say so) a kind of psychotherapy because I believe, by repeating and resurrecting some events from our past, through experience and feelings, we certainly can correct something in ourselves.
This is a well-known psychotherapeutic practice. It helped me a lot and, in general, a person who does not want to make claims, as Brodsky said, «to his country, life, parents and untimely landing on a pot», should have the ability to understand himself first.
By writing the book ‘Goodbye Sadness’, have you forever said goodbye to this feeling or does it periodically visit you?
There is no one condition, once joyful, sometimes sad. Sometimes, I even feel desperate and sometimes happiness and euphoria overtake me. Another thing is that, in our adult life, we very often follow those patterns that we received from our parents in childhood. We often choose a man in the image of a father or look for a wife in the image of a mother. Subconsciously, we build similar relationships within the families, without realizing it. Very often, we copy from parents their characteristics. Very often, these are not only positive sides, but also negative. Only an endless work on self gives an approximation to some ideal state.
I, like any normal person, experience different emotions in one day and am prone to seasons. In the autumn, I often stay in melancholy. In the winter, there comes a state of fun because I am pleased with the snow, with the Christmas trees, with skating rinks and with amazing walks through the snow-covered parks. I am a winter child. I was born in December and my son was born in January, so winter is a special time for me. Until the end of October, everything seems fine to me in this world, I’m in a state of anguish and depression all of November because nature fades and the sun disappears. As soon as the snow falls, it becomes light, and then comes my birthday and then the New Year and Orthodox Christmas arrive. Then, my son’s birthday is upon me and, in February, when the lack of sun becomes critical, I usually leave for warmer lands. I am as a child of nature. If there is the sun, then there is a good mood and vice versa. I really love the rain and can, without a twinge of conscience, gather myself up with a blanket in bed and sleep until noon or drink tea and read a book.
What is the comfort condition for you?
The state of comfort is when my children and I are healthy and we are together.
You once said that you are not quite the right woman because you never dwelt on the fact that a man next to you is a necessity. Are you so self-sufficient that men have nothing to offer you?
Part of this is right. I have very high demands for men and, besides that, just being with a man is not interesting to me. I need a person who I could admire and who would admire me to the same degree and would be willing to tolerate my frequent departures on tours and take responsibility. This seems to me not possible to find, so, after the divorce, I live with my children and this situation suits me.
Why do you think there are not enough women pianists in the world of music?
In fact, there is not so few and, of those who are in the top 10 pianists, at least 2 are women. Of course, there are fewer of them than men because, firstly, working as a high-level musician, with touring and concerts, is a very difficult job physically. Your job is to give a huge energy charge to the hall, in which, of course, you are the first link in the chain, and you must use all of your psychophysical forces. In addition, huge physical output is necessary in a concert. You lose a couple of kilograms and how many nerve cells are lost I cannot even tell. Additionally, a woman’s nature is to give birth and to bring up children and this cannot be combined with the life of a concert artist. If you are a bad mother, but a good actress, you do not care who educates your children and what happens to them, but if you are a good actress and a good mother, it will be almost impossible to combine the two. So, many women pianists, at some point, surrender and stop their career opportunities.
For men, it is much easier in this regard because, most often, they have a woman who provides them with support. If I had a husband who would provide me with support, I would also, probably, be comfortable and well. Another thing is that families are being created for some bigger, more important purposes that go beyond our understanding.
Recently, you founded the Center for Support of Professional Health of Musicians. Why do you need this? Is it about finding a balance between work, children and music?
You understand that, at some point, when you are accumulating some kind of critical mass of experience or knowledge, you are going to teach or you are doing something you would rather not do, you need balance and support from somewhere. I want to share something in the format of an intensive short exposure, like a seminar or a master class. I just know that many musicians have psychological and physical problems, about which we have already spoken, and if you do not know how to relax and work with this strain, then it is fraught with disruptions and physical problems because our body is a single organism. I discovered that everything is so interconnected when I began to look for experts who could help me. I saw that the head and soul are the main instruments on which our physical body depends. This relationship became so obvious to me that I joined forces with musical psychologist Alexandra Fedorova, with whom I decided to make such a centre, together. She is my main assistant in all of our initiatives.
You are the trustee of the charitable foundation ‘‘Oxygen’’, which helps patients with cystic fibrosis. What pushed you into charity?
It was a completely personal story. I met a woman who lost both daughters to cystic fibrosis and then gave birth to a child with Down syndrome. This story has become some kind of catalyst. When we, ourselves, become parents, we begin to feel sharper the pain of others. After I became a mother, my empathy increased several fold and I do not consider it necessary to resist this. In general, it seems to me that to be engaged in charity, it should be as natural as brushing your teeth in the morning; a general rule for everyone. I believe that everyone should deduct a part of their income and give it to charity. There is no ‘‘extraordinary deed’’ in this. There are people who help from their surplus, but there are also people who help in spite of a lack of surplus. If everyone could give something to charities that they trust, then the funds would offer a margin of safety and it would be much easier for them to cope with the problems that fall on their shoulders.
Usually, I do charity concerts and auctions. I work with famous artists and writers who offer us some lots for events. Now, I would like to take a more detailed look at the development strategy of the fund, in order to bring it to a new level of capacity; to look for serious and reliable partners and to attract new forces to the board of trustees.
Have you ever been to Cyprus?
No, I will come for the first time. I spent all of my youth in Koktebel and Miami. My mom moved to Miami in 1994 and lived there until 2008. My exhusband had real estate in Montenegro, where we used to spend the summer from year to year. I, personally, never had a desire to go just to rest. It so happens that almost all of my trips are connected with tours. Therefore, there are quite a few notches in my geographical map. My most beloved country is Italy, which is impossible to get enough of and to experience completely.
I look forward to our visit with Ksenia because it is very interesting for me. I saw a lot of advertising pictures from Cyprus and I am curious how they coincide with my imaginary ideas about your country.
This issue of our magazine is New Year’s. What would you wish our readers?
Frankly, I do not know what I can wish for people who live in Cyprus. I think they are all wonderful. They have the sea, the sun and beauty — what else do you want?
“Three sketches of Lucian Freud” by Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon was an English expressionist painter and a master of figurative painting. His triptych, in 2013, became the most expensive work of art in the world. “Three sketches of Lucian Freud” was sold at Christie’s auction for a record sum of 142 million dollars.
The triptych, created by the artist in 1969, was auctioned for the first time at a pre-sale estimate of 85 million dollars. Bidding lasted only six minutes and the auction house did not disclose the identity of the buyer. Each part of the triptych has the same size of 198×147.5 cm. Each canvas depicts Lucien Freud in different poses, while seated on a chair is the artist Lucien Freud. The background is orange-brown, which is brighter than normal for the works of Bacon.
“Number 5” by Jackson Pollock
“Number 5” was completed in 1948 and utilised the technique of spraying, which is the corporate style of the artist. The picture size is 243.8×121.9 cm and is mounted on fibreboard (hardboard).
In 2006, at an auction organised by the auction house Sotheby’s, it was sold for 140 million dollars. It is believed that the hype surrounding this painting was created artificially. All of the paintings of Jackson Pollock were presented in museums and sold freely. Yet, “Number 5” was hidden and shown only when all of the other artworks were sold.
Consequently, the price of the painting went up to the heavens and broke many records. The original painting was in a private collection and was then exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It then became the property of producer David Geffen. Who sold it for $ 140 million? According to unconfirmed reports, it was a famous Mexican billionaire.