Robert Estrin - piano expert

What is the Russian School of Music?

Learn more about the famous Russian School of Music

In this video, Robert talks about the so-called "Russian School" in music, which embraces not only the famous Russian composers of the romantic era, but also the wonderful performers we all know from the last 2 centuries. What do they have in common?

Released on February 18, 2015

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi and welcome to and I am Robert Estrin with a viewer question. What is the Russian school? The Russian school, is this a real thing? Well let's talk about that the Russian school of piano playing, the Russian school of violin playing. Well, there definitely is a certain propensity towards emotionalism found in Russian players. You know each culture has different aspects to it. You think about the Japanese and the politeness and compared to the Russian spirit. My ancestors are Russian, so I'm allowed to say this. There is an emotionalism to Russian personalities in general, the culture. And it comes through in the music also. But you have to say is it as an actual school. It really isn't any more than the French school and really these schools come about because of the composers. You think about Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, this very, very romantic emotionalism in music and that same aesthetic translates over into the performance areas. But, there is a huge range of styles within the Russian pianist. For example, Rachmaninoff played very differently from Horowitz, for example, yet both Russian schooled.

So what is this Russian school then? Well, it really is a very general term just like classical music or romantic period music as a general term after the fact to kind of categorize a whole group of composers and, in this case, even performers. It was a certain tendency towards emotionalism, but really you can't go much further than that because each artist is individual. Thanks for the great questions and we may cover the French school in another video. And once again, I am Robert Estrin here at and Thanks for joining me.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Galina on February 2, 2018 @11:57 am PST
Honestly ,
there is an enormous difference in almost everything. With all die respect ,has Hemd Estrin ever watched at least one lesson given by Russian teacher in Russian music school ?
Robert Estrin - host, on February 2, 2018 @5:28 pm PST
I studied with my father Morton Estrin who was trained by Madam Vera Press of the Russian school. I also studied with Ruth Slenczynska who is the last living student of Sergei Rachmaninoff. While there are things to be learned by different schools of piano playing, a great deal comes down to the individual. Consider the playing of Josef Lhévinne compared to Vladamir Horowitz and you see one example of this tremendous range of musical and technical differences among Russian pianists.
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on January 31, 2018 @4:47 pm PST
Maybe this is a good time to ask you another question. Do the various European Nations use the same study books in the same progression? If so, where can I find a list of "mandatory" study books, let's say from beginning to at least 4th level?
Robert Estrin - host, on February 1, 2018 @12:52 pm PST
There are countless method books and formative repertoire utilized by different teachers. There isn't a universal standard in piano study because of the wealth of music for the instrument.
Hank on September 16, 2016 @10:12 am PST
Hi! Interesting video!
What does it mean for the student that the piano teacher comes from the rusian piano tradition? Does it really mean anything at all? Isn't the personaly of the piano teacher more important than if he/she is russian or german and so on?
Robert Estrin - host, on September 16, 2016 @1:41 pm PST
You are right. Ultimately it is the individual teacher that is of paramount importance. Yet, there are stylistic differences in the Russian approach to piano playing that is distinctive from the German school or the French style of piano playing.
Kathryn Bowman * VSM MEMBER * on February 18, 2015 @8:35 am PST
Thank you for your videos! They are so interesting and helpful. I teach piano, and I love getting the tips that you give in your videos! You said you studied with Ruth Slezinka (sorry, I don't remember how to spell her name). I know that lady! I sat in some of her masters classes at SIU in Edwardsville, Illinois. I also picked her up at the airport one time when she was returning from a concert tour. She was so tiny, and I marveled that her little hands could do what they do! I thought she was funny when she said, "Being a good pianist is 10% talent and 90% iron butt!" Meaning you sat on that piano bench for hours! I thought it was interesting that when she traveled, she had a silent keyboard that she could practice on in the hotels. Any way, I appreciate your videos so much. Please keep making them!!
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