The West should listen to musical giant Yevgeny Kissin

And not just to his music, becaus he is not only a musical giant, but also a moral one.

Giulio Meotti

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צילום: עצמי

Evgeny Kissin is forty-seven, but he has the same chubby face that made him famous as one of the greatest living pianists when he was younger. Kissin was a prodigy as a child. At eighteen months, listening to his mom and her sister at the piano, he knew how to repeat a Bach theme.

At the age of four, he played his first improvisations, at six he became a composer, at seven he played his first concerts, at twelve Chopin, at sixteen he recorded with von Karajan and the Berliner Philharmoniker. He was then welcomed with all the honors by the Western audience and, since then, the world cannot have enough of Kissin's 

But Kissin is different from other contemporary musicians, musical giants but moral dwarves, like Daniel Barenboim and Gustavo Dudamel. Kissin is publishing a book this week, “Memoirs and Reflections”, edited by Marina Arshinova. “I am a stunch supporter of Western values”, he told the Spectator, “but in recent years I have realized that the Western establishment has often betrayed those same values. And one of the manifestations of this betrayal is the stance against Israel."

This is the diametric opposite of what another music virtuoso has done, Daniel Barenboim, who, in the newspaper Haaretz has just explained that Israel was “given” to the Jewish people by a world with the sense of guilt after the Holocaust, making the Palestinian Arabs pay the price. “Memoirs and reflections” is an act of love for the third country adopted by Kissin, who defines himself as “a citizen of Russia, the West and Israel”. He writes of feeling “like an Israeli soldier in the international arena.”

Never mention Jeremy Corbyn's name in Kissin's presence. “My late uncle, Lord Kissin, must be turning in his grave.” He is referring to his uncle Harry Kissin, a Labour militant who fled Nazism.

Words no less harsh are those Kissin reserves for the European Union. “I certainly don’t like what has become of it,’ he says. ‘Having grown up in the former Soviet Union I am for the independence of states. A common market is one thing but political centralisation is something completely different which I do not like.”

When in London, at the Royal Albert Hall, when anti-Zionists interrupted Zubin Mehta's conducting of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, Kissin told them: “When Israel’s enemies try to disrupt concerts of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra or the Jerusalem Quartet, I want them to come and make trouble at my concerts, too, because Israel’s case is my case, Israel’s enemies are my enemies, and I do not want to be spared the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter when they represent the Jewish state beyond its borders.” 

Kissin attacked “the anti-Israel hysteria.” Bis, maestro! The Western establishment should go to his concerts and learn how to speak the truth.