Pianists From the Inside

Tag Archives: Ivo Varbanov

DECEMBER 4, 2012 · 8:44 PM

Ivo Varbanov



What motivates you to play Piano?

I love music and arts in general.

Piano is simply a medium for expressing artistic values and ideas. First of all you have to be a all-round human being, then a fine musician, and finally a good pianist to express all. Of course I am fascinated by the instrument – piano, but it is less important than music itself.

Can you tell us more about your work supporting and promoting Bulgarian Art and Culture in the UK, why is this work important to you?

I am very happy that I am able to popularize the so often neglected culture of Bulgaria. I am always happy if I premi?re a Bulgarian contemporary composer in an important concert in New York or London.

Who has influenced you as a pianist the most? (could be a teacher, friend, another pianist or family member)

 The teacher that has influenced me most is Ilonka Deckers with whom I have studied for 6 years in Milan, Italy. She was a student of Prof. Istv?n Thom?n, one of Liszt favourite students.

An important figures in my life of course is my mother, who is a retired cellist, and she was my first music educator. My wife, Fiammetta Tarli, is also a pianist and she is an extremely intelligent musician and she is of great help in shaping many musical ideas.

Earliest memory involving piano playing? 

When I was 7-8, I did want to play football not the piano, so I was not very consistent with practicing at that time.

Proudest career moment / to date?  The biggest challenge you have overcome (in piano playing). 

The proudest moment of my career is my return to the big stage after a long time due to a very serious illness: Leukemia.

After spending one year in hospital and a bone marrow transplant I was very happy that I managed to recover.

In September 2012 I played an important concert in King’s Place, which was a challenge for me. A 2 hours programme including only Johannes Brahms works like the Sonata Op.1, the Scherzo Op.4, the Paganini Variations and the 6 Chorals Op.122 (transc. Busoni). It was psyco-physically very demanding.

In your opinion, what are the most important qualities in a great pianist? Any tips to young people who want to become concert pianists?

The most important qualities for a pianist are related to his human nature I believe. Most pianists are able to play the piano very well, very few are real artists that are able to understand  the full meaning of the extraordinarily rich musical language that the composers are using. I would suggest to young pianists not to be obsessed with the mechanical aspect of the piano playing, but to work in parallel the real secrets of the musical language and the piano.

What are your favourite pianos to play?

I have been playing mainly so far on Steinways, Bosendorfer, Fazioli, Yamaha and Kawai. Recently I started using Steingraeber from Bayreuth, which is a small artisan manufacturer and the instruments are amazing – incredible pleasure to play and infinite possibilities for colours and dynamics.