Alexei Sultanov

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Alexei Sultanov
Born (1969-08-07)August 7, 1969
Died June 30, 2005(2005-06-30) (aged 35)
Fort Worth, Texas, US
Genres Classical
Occupation(s) Pianist
Instruments Piano

Alexei Sultanov (Russian: Алексей Султанов; August 7, 1969 – June 30, 2005) was a Russian classical pianist of Uzbek origin.


Alexei Sultanov was born to a family of musicians. At the age of 6, he began piano lessons in Tashkent with Tamara Popovich and then with Lev Naumov at the Moscow Conservatory. At the age of thirteen he was a participant of the International Radio Competition for Young Musicians in Prague.[1] He became famous after winning the Eighth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition on June 11, 1989 at the age of 19.[2] He was the youngest contestant in that year's competition. Listeners were awed by his virtuosic technique, musicality, and dynamic range. After winning the Van Cliburn, he made appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman.

In October 1995, Sultanov won second prize at the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition; the grand prize was not awarded, he was offered a second prize but he refused to accept it.[citation needed]

Strokes and death[edit]

In 1996 he had his first stroke, and despite his refusal was convinced by his wife Dace Abele to visit Ed Kramer, the local neurologist. Kramer checked on him and discovered some small black spots which proved to him that blood clots had formed in the brain. Despite the stroke he continued his performance in Tokyo, but there suffered another stroke. After that the same neurologist diagnosed him with diastolic heart failure, which was luckily on a low side. One evening in February 2001 he was still not in good health. He refused dinner, and his wife convinced him to eat at least an onion.[3]

After eating the crock of it, he made himself a promise that he would not eat cheese after it, due to his intolerance toward lactose. Unfortunately he could not resist the smell of it, and after eating it had a stomach ache. He ran to the bathroom, and while trying to relieve himself from the ache bumped his head on the sink. He and his wife thought it was just a bump, but it did not go away.[3]

The strokes damaged everything except the cerebral cortex and while sitting in a wheelchair he still performed despite aesthetic emotions. On June 28, 2005 when everything seemed normal he, his wife and Dace's mother Benita Abele who came from Riga decided to hold a barbecue. The next day he and his wife went to the YMCA swimming pool where he used to swim and by the evening sat to watch their favorite show called The Real Gilligan's Island. After he went to bed at 10:00 pm he awoke at 4:30 am to let his wife know to turn him over. By 7:00 am they supposed to go to the lake, but she overslept by two hours. When she awoke she tapped him on his shoulder, but he did not move. It turned out that his body had been deprived of oxygen. She awoke her mother and together they called 911, which arrived twenty-five minutes later. Despite CPR efforts, the paramedics informed her that her husband had died. He passed away on June 30, 2005 at the age of 35 in Fort Worth.[3]


During his life his performances of concerti by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff were recorded with Maxim Shostakovich conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and were published under the Teldec Classics label, while his other albums such as the Fantaisie Impromptu of 1997 and Sultanov plays Chopin which was released two years later were published by the Arts Core Corporation. He also was a part of a PBS documentary called Here to Make Music which was produced by Peter Rosen for US viewers. The film won an award and has been aired worldwide ever since.[4]


  1. ^ "Alexei Sultanov". Internet Chopin Information Center. Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  2. ^ Tim Page (July 11, 2005). "A Pianist Who Played By His Own Rules". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Alexey Koshkin (August 3, 2010). "The life and rebirth of musical mastermind (Alexey Sultanov)". Mikhail Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Alexei Sultanov". Official Site. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 

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