Viktoria Mullova

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Viktoria Mullova
Born (1959-11-27) 27 November 1959 (age 64)
Zhukovsky, Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Instrument(s)Violin, Baroque violin

Viktoria Yurievna Mullova (Russian: Виктория Юрьевна Муллова, IPA: [vʲɪˈktorʲɪɪ̯ə ˈmuɫəvə]; born 27 November 1959) is a Russian-born British violinist.[1] She is best known for her performances and recordings of a number of violin concerti, compositions by J.S. Bach, and her innovative interpretations of popular and jazz compositions by Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, The Beatles, and others.[2]

Biography and early career[edit]

Mullova was born in Zhukovsky, 45 km from Moscow, in Soviet Russia.[3] At the age of four, she was encouraged to start her violin training by her father Yuri Mullov, the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute physicist and engineer.[1] After studying at the Central Music School of Moscow [de] and at the Moscow Conservatory under Leonid Kogan, she won first prize at the 1980 International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in Helsinki and the gold medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1982. She remembered the whole experience of the Soviet quasi-religious state-sponsored musical education as an overly stressful nightmare full of hypocrisy: "Naturally, I have never believed in communism. But everything was a play. I knew I wanted to leave, and I was pretending to be a naive girl".[4][a]


During a tour of Finland in 1983, Mullova and her lover, Vakhtang Jordania, who posed as her accompanist so they could defect together, left the hotel in Kuusamo, after Jordania told the KGB officer who was watching them that Mullova was too sick from drinking to attend the afterparty. The Stradivari violin owned by the Soviet Union was left behind on the hotel bed. YLE journalist Jyrki Koulumies,[20][21] accompanied by photographer Caj Sundman, drove them in a rented car across the border via Haparanda to Luleå, Sweden where they flew to Stockholm.

At that time, the Swedish police treated the young, on-the-run musicians just like any other political defectors from the Eastern Bloc: they suggested that the couple stay in a safehouse over the weekend until the American Embassy opened so they could apply for political asylum upon relocation. So for two days they sat under pseudonyms in a safehouse not even daring to go outside, because their photographs were on the front page of every Swedish and international newspaper. Two days later they arrived in Washington, D.C., with American visas in their pockets.

Life in the West[edit]

Mullova has made many recordings including her debut release of the Tchaikovsky and Jean Sibelius violin concertos which was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque.

She formed the Mullova Chamber Ensemble in the mid-1990s. The ensemble has toured Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands and has recorded the Bach violin concertos on Philips Classics. She was nominated for a 1995 Grammy Award for her recording of the Bach Partitas, and she won a 1995 Echo Klassik award, a Japanese Record Academy Award and a Deutsche Schallplattenkritik prize for her recording of the Brahms violin concerto. Her recording of the Brahms B major Trio (no. 1) and Beethoven's Archduke Trio with André Previn and Heinrich Schiff was released in 1995, receiving a further Diapason d'Or.

Mullova's international career as a soloist has included performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Symphony, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed as soloist and director with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Mullova plays the Jules Falk Stradivarius from 1723 and a violin made in 1750 by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini. Her bows include a Baroque style bow by a Walter Barbiero,[22] one of the finest makers of modern bows, a Dodd and a Voirin.

Personal life[edit]

Mullova currently lives in Holland Park, London, England, with her husband, cellist Matthew Barley, and three children: the jazz bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado, from her relationship with conductor and pianist Claudio Abbado;[23] Katia, from her relationship with violinist Alan Brind; and Nadia, who is a dancer in the Royal Ballet,[24] from her marriage to Barley.[25][26]

Selected discography[edit]

  • Beethoven Violin Sonatas Nos. 3, 9 (Onyx 4050). With Kristian Bezuidenhout; 2010
  • JS Bach Sonatas & Partitas for violin solo (Onyx 4040); 2009
  • JS Bach Sonatas for violin and harpsichord (Onyx 4020). With Ottavio Dantone; 2007
  • Vivaldi 5 violin concertos (Onyx 4001). With Il Giardino Armonico; 2005
  • Beethoven and Mendelssohn Violin Concertos (Philips, 473 872–2). With Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique/John Eliot Gardiner; 2003
  • Mozart: Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 3-4 (Philips, 470 292). With Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; 2002
  • Through the Looking Glass (Philips, 464 184–2). With Matthew Barley and Between the Notes; 2000
  • Bartók and Stravinsky Violin Concertos (Philips, 456 542–2). With Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen; 1997
  • Brahms Violin Sonatas (Philips, 446 709–2). With pianist Piotr Anderszewski; 1997
  • Tchaikovsky and Sibelius Violin Concertos(Philips 416 821–2) Boston Symphony Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa; 1985

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Through verbal commentaries on music the Soviet ideology ‘appropriated’ the classical musical heritage.[5] The last stages of the education system were developed by the composer and teacher Dmitry Kabalevsky. Classical music performers were household names rivaled to movie stars and popular singers through its constant presence on a Soviet TV, just like the ballet dancers[6] and Kabalevsky's then-famous credo quote "Beauty Evokes Kindness" (Russian: Прекрасное пробуждает доброе, romanizedPrekrasnoe probuzhdaet dobroe)[7] Vladimir Lenin's self-proclaimed atheism, as a lack of transcendental ideals that are important to the others, was perceived as wishful thinking because of Maxim Gorky's 1924 testimony about the leader's admiration for Issay Dobrowen's performance of the "preterhuman music" of one of Beethoven's 32 sonatas, all of them being the "New Testament" of Moscow Conservatory piano department (with The Well-Tempered Clavier as "Old Testament"; all-Soviet famous Hans von Bülow statement[8]).[9]

    The oppressive musical education system, as mentioned by Mullova, included thousands of state-sponsored regional non-special complementary children musical schools raising the professional classical music consumers mostly, after a full 8-year-course, and not only the professional musicians. The stable existence of multiple pre-professionally trained listeners has created additional pressure for the performers, sometimes have returned to classical music "from the front door" many years and even decades after the graduation from the musical school.[10][11] As an example of attitude, Ludwig van Beethoven's classical song Marmotte [ru] has become a point of Soviet children's early, elementary school or kindergarten age introduction to the "unfading ethical ideal".[12] The Soviet ideology was based on "another myth about Beethoven: a democrat, sansculotte, a man of the revolutionary era, a rebel, a revolutionary".[13] Beethoven was ubiquitously wrongly referenced by kids with the false patronymic "Ludwig Ivanovich", from 'van', although his father's name was also a variation of "Ivan", and it has become a popular in-joke.[14]

    After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the system was financially "abandoned by the state to face the merciless fate" and, as a repentance for his collaboration with the Soviet authorities and a certain level of animosity, a lack of solidarity, towards his fellow composers Prokofiev and Shostakovich, Kabalevsky has been excluded from a shortlist of worthy Soviet-era composers.[7] By 2019, the number of classical music fans was reduced to a fourth-place overall, 22 percent, behind the Russian/Soviet pop and "criminals' songs" (30 percent). It was still more than a number of people who attend religious services at least once a month, as of 2008.[15][16] However, according to the Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis, the ongoing cultural genocide of instrumentalists and their admirers by the Russian officials is far from complete, yet close: "Russia has the best audience, the most educated".[17][18][19]


  1. ^ a b "The goddess of victory lives in London" (in Russian). Moskovskij Komsomolets. 18 February 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  2. ^ Eva Maria Chapman (September 19, 2012). From Russia to Love: The Life and Times of Viktoria Mullova. Robson Press, UK. ISBN 978-1849541916.
  3. ^ John Woodford (2001). "Through the Looking Glass with Viktoria Mullova". Online Journal. 2 (8). Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  4. ^ "Victoria Mullova: "I didn't have a love for music - I had a sense of purpose"". (in Russian). 21 December 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  5. ^ Raku, Marina. "Muzykal'naya klassika v mifotvorchestve sovetskoy epokhi 53/5000 Musical classics in the Soviet-era myth-making". Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Russian Idols of the XX Century". (in Russian). VCIOM. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  7. ^ a b Brophy, Timothy S. (2019). The Oxford Handbook of Assessment Policy and Practice in Music Education, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190248116.
  8. ^ "Elisabeth Leonskaja performs Beethoven's last three Piano Sonatas" (in Russian). Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  9. ^ Gorky, Maxim. "V. I. Lenin (First Edition)". Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  10. ^ Zisman, Vladimir (2018). Guide to the Orchestra and Its Backyards (in Russian). Moscow: AST. ISBN 978-5-17-090591-1.
  11. ^ "Modern Balalaika School". YouTube (in Russian). Voronezh: Andrey Karpov. 12 September 2020. Retrieved 14 September 2020. And the motivation is very simple. Do not approach the refrigerator Or ask those who give you food not to do it. And under these circumstances, you will calmly master everything. If you are being told that tomorrow, excuse me, they will shoot you away if you do not master Paganini's "Perpetual Motion", then 80 percent will master. There will be casualties, and 20 percent will not. Well, first of all, you can't really shoot them away, so let's transfer them to another institution, out of sight. But do in the way the rest won't know about it. They think that those people are gone and that's it. And now, when you ask them to master something, 100 percent will do it, as the others are gone. I'm kidding
  12. ^ "Ludwig van Beethoven". Moscow Philarmonic Society [ru]. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  13. ^ Kirillina, Larisa. "Beethoven: Legends, Myths, Reality". (in Russian). Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  14. ^ "Our Ludwig Ivanovich Beethoven". (in Russian). 10 February 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  15. ^ "Музыкальные предпочтения" [Musical Preferences] (in Russian). Levada Center. February 18, 2019. Retrieved 23 June 2020. Classical music - 22%
  16. ^ "Russians Return to Religion, But Not to Church". Pew Research Center. 10 February 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  17. ^ ""They wanted to show they put us in our place." Teodor Currentzis tells Ksenia Sobchak why he has left the Perm Opera". (in Russian). Звезда. 17 July 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  18. ^ "Orchestra Rehearsal". (in Russian). Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 10 April 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2020. Arthur Domansky - accompanist of the highest category. For an hour of work at the conservatory, he receives 86 rubles
  19. ^ "Ivan Ilyin, Putin's Philosopher of Russian Fascism". The New York Review of Books. April 5, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2019. The proper interpretation of the "judge not" passage was that every day was judgment day, and that men would be judged for not killing God's enemies when they had the chance. In God's absence, Ilyin determined who those enemies were
  20. ^ "Helsingin Sanomat - International Edition - Culture". 22 February 2014. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Uutiset". Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  22. ^ "5 World Class Soloists Actively Promoting Violin Making | MyLuthier Blog". Retrieved 2022-08-08.
  23. ^ Fordham, John (19 November 2015). "Misha Mullov-Abbado: New Ansonia review – an impressive debut". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019.
  24. ^ "Nadia Mullova-Barley". Royal Opera House. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  25. ^ Ian Phillips (7 July 2000). "Reflections to Mullova". The Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
  26. ^ Tim Ashley (2 February 2001). "And this one's by the Bee Gees". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-30.

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