The New York Times Obituaries 2005:
SULTANOV -- Alexei. The House of Steinway & Sons notes with sadness the passing of the pianist Alexei Sultanov on June 30 in Fort Worth, Texas, at the age of 35.




I first heard this Russian-American classical pianist on KUHF, Houston's PBS station, playing Beethoven's Appassionata. At the end of the breathtaking piece, the DJ related Sultanov's tragic story. Captivated by his music and intrigued by the artist, I researched him on the internet.

Alexai Sultanov was born August 7, 1969. His father, Faizul Sultanov, was a cellist, his mother, Natalia Pogorelova was a violinist, and his grandmother was a well-known Uzbek actress. At the age of six, he began piano lessons in Tashkent with Tamara Popovich. Alexai made his formal debut at age seven.

In 1989, he competed in the Eighth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. At the age of nineteen, he was the youngest in a field of thirty-eight. The prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, created by Fort Worth teachers in honor of Texan Van Cliburn, was first held in 1962 in Fort Worth. Four years earlier, during the height of the Cold War, Van Cliburn had won the International Tchaikovsky Competition held in Russia.

During the performance, a piano string snapped but Alexai finished his volcanic performance of selections from Liszt, Prokofiev and Chopin. But his critics were divided. In a newspaper interview, Denise Mullins, the Cliburn Foundation's artistic administrator, said, "He took things to the absolute edge of the cliff, and it was very exciting to hear. He wasn't afraid to take a chance on stage, and there aren't a lot of pianists who do that."

Sultanov was awarded First Prize--$15,000 in cash, a recital at Carnegie Hall, a recording contract, and sponsored tours in the U.S. and Europe—in one of the wealthiest competitions in the world. His career was launched.

However, his originality and daring expression worked both for him and against him.
(Continued 4/26/07)

A video of Alexei playing the Appassionata is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xI4qFLfVmR8.

3 comments

  1. Beth Trissel // April 25, 2008 at 1:16 PM  

    What a loss to the musical world, and so young. Very sad.

  2. Nightingale // April 25, 2008 at 1:45 PM  

    The post continues tomorrow with how he met his wife, etc.

    Did you follow the link and listen? In a word superb. This subject is very dear to my heart. His music and his courage captured my imagination.

  3. Toni V.S. // April 25, 2008 at 10:03 PM  

    I had never heard of this artist, but I can't wait to hear the rest of his story. It's always a loss to the world of art and entertainment when one so talents dies so young.