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Interview with cellist — Borislav Strulev by Katerina Goltcman

Interview with cellist — Borislav Strulev


For starters can you please tell us a little about the festival you created: «Belgorod Musicfest — Borislav Strulev and Friends.» It is one of the prominent events in Russian culture.

«Belgorod Musicfest — Borislav Strulev and Friends» is a very important part of my life. I created it in order to introduce Russian audiences to talented and famous musicians from all over the world. Most of them are my colleagues and friends, people who I shared the stage with on many occasions. I am glad to give the audience a chance to hear and see them. We also invite local groups. This is a way for the local musicians to have a chance to play with world celebrities while helping to close the gap between cultures. We use «CROSSOVER» which means a mixture of several musical genres. For example, last time my friend Matt Herskowitz, a Canadian composer and pianist virtuoso composed and played one piece of music in every musical style and gave a master class for the local piano players. The Festival presented the Russian premiere of «ROCK CONCERTO» of Alexander Markov, often referred to as the Paganini of the XXI century. I respect and appreciate him as a musician. I have dreamed about bringing him to Russia for a tour for a very long time. Markov played his «Rock Concerto» at Carnegie Hall, at huge stadiums, for various audiences and suddenly he appears at my festival in Belgorod and is as brilliant as ever. The festival is two years old and Belgorod is certainly the best place for it. This is a wonderful place with people who respect themselves, love and take a good care of their city. The new philharmonic hall of surprising beauty was constructed over there recently. Some people are already creating beautiful names for this hall, «Cleopatra’s Earrings» for example…

After two seasons of the festival, our audience already knows that if they come to our concerts they would receive positive energy for a long time to come, they would find new meaning in music, they would feel it’s magical inspiring impact on their mind! I know the feeling and I am always trying to surprise the public. I would really love for the people to come to Belgorod and be part of our festival. It happens in March. You can go to our website: to specify dates, to look through the program or to get a feeling of what the festival is like. There is a «Guest» section where one can ask questions and leave suggestions. Do not to hesitate to do so. The most important thing is that you visit Belgorod. You will be able to enjoy the music, explore the city with a rich history and communicate with musicians and learn something new. Believe me, it is worth getting on a train or a plane for this event! Come … And, of course, I would like to express huge gratitude to E. S. Savchenko, the governor of the Belgorod region for his extensive support to our project.

«Borislav Strulev and friends» is not only about music. I know that you are planning to expand a festival by arranging art exhibitions, open rehearsals, master classes …

I do not want to stop there. I would like to hold my friends’ art exhibitions in the philharmonic hall lobby and have them give master classes as well. Another idea is to invite chefs who love music and have food tastings at a restaurant near by. I saw this done at other festivals. Why not adopt this experience in Belgorod?

«Belgorod Musicfest — Borislav Strulev and Friends» is the official partner of the cultural Olympic Games in Sochi 2014. Is the program ready?

We are very glad that we were singled out for this. I can tell that foreign musicians who participate at Belgorod are very proud of this choice. I cannot comment on the program at the moment because it has not been approved yet.



And if you had it, what format would it have been?

Any! Just specify the direction! From classical to jazz, or any other style, or especially composed by my friends for this specific event. By the way, the Olympic anthem is already written, thanks to my friend «the Russian Vangelis» Vadim Pitsunov . You know, special music is able to inspire our Olympians to victories. It is just like an energy drink but only in a musical format! Therefore we are ready for the Olympic Games!!!

I would like to discuss the mixing of styles. Cello is considered an exclusively classical instrument but you didn’t limit yourself to classics. In fact you were the first to start playing jazz on cello. Would you say that a mixture of styles is an influence of the XXI century?

Certainly, music changes under the influence of time. In my case, times changed and with them changed the possibilities for a cello to show it’s best in various musical styles. I am the first person to play jazz on a cello, to take part in theatrical projects, to work with pop performers, to merge cello sound with electronic music. I also have some a-vanguard projects, one of which is completely unique in the world of music. It is my project with the Irkutsk church bell ringer and the composer-drummer living in the Siberian forest, a very respected person in England, by the way. Our collaboration led us to create a modern ballet on the basis of Bach’s «Sarabands». There is modern art for you! I hope to present it to the world audience. I would like to surprise the critics.

Quite recently I participated in another mass project — gala show «Marc Chagall», which happened in the artist’s hometown Vitebsk. Thanks to the director Sergey Tsvetkov who believed in me and my music, I was able to choose my own program to create the music for the whole show to keep it together. I appeared on a huge stage with a crowd of two hundred people — circus performers, ballet dancers and stuntmen. The hall of six thousand spectators listened to our music and was able to identify with the story of the great artist. I had a tremendous feeling of purpose, that I do not live for nothing, that my whole life which I devoted to music, is also not in vain. Nobody can ever say that cello is not a new and independent format ever again. It is indeed! A format indeed!

And what do you think of the critics? After all, the majority of critics think that a classical musician is only supposed to play classical music?

I treat criticism very kindly, I give it a go! The criticism should help to stir the performer’s creativity, but for some reason all that the people remember is negative criticism, nobody remembers positive remarks. Many great works were criticized severely when they first appeared criticism and seemed doomed as a result, but after some time they were revived and are now considered masterpieces in the music world. And where are the critics? Gone… In Russia the majority of critical articles are written by journalists just stating their personal opinion. I believe a good critic is a person with a great deal of knowledge and impressions so that he/she has something to base their opinion on, not just say «I was there and I didn’t like it!» It seems to me that criticism plays a tremendous role in the creativity. I dream of opening an influential western magazine about music one day to find a review on a CD or a concert written by a Russian critic.

And what is most crucial for creativity in your opinion?

I think that it is inspiration. It’s real happiness to feel the creative euphoria and to be able to transfer it to the public. To be able to derive pleasure from music!!! To learn to produce not only «naked unemotional» notes or a set of sounds but to to the essence of the piece emotionally. I will never forget the words of the genius conductor Neema Yarvi with whom I played «Rococo variations»by P. I. Tchaikovsky in Cologne. Before the performance he told me: «We are so lucky that we have the opportunity to live our life through music, on the scene, for the sake of the people».


The young generation introduces new, unusual ideas and there is a process of inevitable mixture of styles. Don’t you think that there will be a certain process of updating that will change classical music as a whole?

I think that it is inevitable. Take Bach’s violoncello suites … They were considered as simple etudes for a violoncello, but there came Pablo Casals who revealed the depth of this cosmic solo with his interpretations and now it is the most important musical language in solo repertoire. As they say — play Bach to me and I will tell you who you are!

I read in one of your interviews that charity is a big part of your life. Can you tell us a little bit about that? It would be nice to learn about your charity activity.

Yes, It is one of the most important components of my life.
I am member of the board of trustees of the «Nastenka» Fund ( It is a Fund — charitable foundation that helps children with cancer.
Soon, I will present my new music program together with the “Nastenka” fund. I would like the people to think and realize that this is our common big trouble. In my opinion if we do not think about charitable activity we as a social group might turn out to be without future.
I also remember that together with my friend Vlad Malenko an actor from Taganka theatre, we visited the city of Tagil with our play our show” BasniCello”. It happened so that we were asked to help hold stage a beauty contest for girls with disabilities. This moment will remain forever in my heart.

On another occasion in my childhood memories I will never forget how we children flew on helicopters under the title of the foundation “ The New Names” with the former ministers of Defense P.S. Grachev and B.M. Shaposhnikov. We played for our military units in East Germany when the soviet troops were ready to withdraw. The piano’s which was used for this performances did not have some black key notes. It was fun for poor pianist to try to play along.

In my opinion, such “injections” will stay always in the life of every musician.


The Central Musical School (in abbreviation CMSH) raised many musicians who became world famous.
But at the same time one’s parents figuratively speaking sacrificed their careers and dedicated their lives to raising a musician. Does this happen today? Does one always have to sacrifice to achieve success in life?

I do not know how it is happening now in the world of music. In every family there are their own family principles, traditions and resources. In my case when I was growing it was an insanely complicated time. I am from the family of musicians and my beloved grandmother bought me my first cello and a bow. She always waited for me outside the classroom where I was having my cello classes and after my lessons she used to give me a warm cup of sweet coffee or hot dog and then we went home hand in hand together.
Later on when my creative path in life was defined. My mother had changed her life radically. She is an outstanding vocal coach and pianist. She used to play to the whole cello class and she also accompanied me at all recitals in all my tours.
The financial component in the life of my family was not simple at that time. My father took the responsibility of fully providing for the family.
My father was a singer in the Moscow State Chamber Choir/Vladimir Minin and he went on tours around the world. He used to bring VCR’s and shearling coats, cordless telephones and cars. These goods were popular in Soviet Union and therefore were sold for profit. All of the perfume and went for my private tutoring, presents, etc. and also fed our family in difficult times.
Even after my student’s years my mother continued to accompany me at all concerts. We went to the stage as a duet and that holds a very deep and profound memory in my heart.
When I was playing on various stages around the world with my beloved mother I felt the utmost profound happiness. In such moments I was the happiest man in the world. Very few people could give me a better accompaniment or help me in my tours than my mother. On stage my mother was a musician and a friend and that all brought such incredibly deep sounds coming from my soul which were expressed through music. It was the most sincere and profound feeling coming from my soul.
I think that in our contemporary russian society there are parents who can give up everything for the sake of developing their child’s talent.


There is an opinion that when a child wins a competition or performs at a festival parents start considering their offspring to be a child prodigy so they start demanding more and more from him…

I understand what you are talking about but there is a catch here. When a young musician receives appreciation and praise from the public then “ a button” a nickname for a cute talented child will melt with pride. He or she will feel very important and outstanding. But when a young musician turns sixteen and has not achieved more perception and maturity then the picture drastically changes. Therefore the most important task is to create an artist and not a virtuoso.

What is the future for a new generation in classical music? Can we expect to have a new generation of musical prodigies?

Today’s situation is very complicated. If we do not obtain financial support or guardianship than chances for it happening are very slim. If the family can give something extra to their child than they must do it. If it cannot be done than do not spoil your child’s life or at least one’s childhood.
Presently a decent string instrument — cello, costs from thousands and up to millions. It is clear right away that it will not be a simple matter to bring up a musician. Before musical instruments were given as a gift because it was clear to everyone that not every musician can afford to buy such an instrument. Now such patrons of the arts have disappeared and everything drastically changed for the worse.

I noticed that you are always presented as either
an american musician or as a russian musician. And what do you think of that? You are a musician of what country?

Yes, that correctly describes my situation.
It seems that the goal for every artist is to be known and loved for his/her talent and it is of no importance where he/ or she is currently residing.
I was born in Moscow and till 1993 studied and toured much around Russia. Then I studied at the Manhattan Conservatory in New York by invitation of Marta Casals Istomin and worked at ICM Artist by invitation of Isaac Stern and Byron Janis in the United States. Twelve years have gone by and I once again came to my motherland to Russia. Much has changed since that time in Russia.
Now I often fly to Russia. If I can say so I belong to two countries because now my mother lives in the United States and my father lives in Russia. So I fly and fly and fly.


In what country are there more projects in the USA or in Russia?

There are projects everywhere far and wide. My task is to unite them and present american projects in Russia and russian ones in the United States. Well this is my wish in the very least. I am musical »bridge» !!!

It seems to me that you have to highlight your project” Basni Cello”. How did this idea arise and who was the initiator?

A great man, great actor, friend of Vladimir Vysotsky — the late Valery Sergeevich Zolotukhin supported this project whole heartedly. Then I got acquainted with an actor Vlad Malenko. He showed me what he is doing and we got together and created a project. “Basni” ( translated — fables) are presented by Vladimir Malenko and the cello is a cello in english and I play the cello.
First we chose ten fables for which I prepared musical accompaniment. For instance in the process of work with the fable “ A shrimp” I was thinking for a long time what musical accompaniment to choose for the topic. Music has to express the meaning of the fable.
Then I realized that it has to stay in the form of jazz and for performing this fable I took the best known, outstanding jazz melodies.
For instance in the fable “Oil” I thought of how the music could accompany the dreams of an oil tycoon the hero of this fable and decided that it should be “Bolero” by Ravel.

I am also doing a projects with super russian actor as Evgeny Knyazev “Casanova” by Marina Tsvetaeva and “ Confession” by Maxim Gorky with Dmitry Dyuzhev. Well in general I will be very happy to see acquaintances and friends in the »Dom Aktera» — The Moscow House of Actors, where I spend my special evenings. That is where music and words do merge.

The project with Tamara Gvardtsitelli also involves poetry. There is such a point of view that with your cello a musician can express his/her inner thoughts. Is that so?

Generally speaking unification of my cello sounds and the voice of the favourite and popular singer Tamara Gvardtsitelli is unique and magical. Wherever we have performed and whatever musical pieces we have performed people froze and were captivated by the music. We created a whole show on a very high international level.
Tamara plays the piano, organ, recites poems and sings in many foreign languages. We have already shown a programme “and the God created a woman” in Moscow, St Petersburg, Tbilisi, Batumi, Baku and Krasnodar.
Timbre of Tamara’s voice resembles the Stradivari violin.
It is impossible to mix it with something else. It is uniquely beautiful and creates a deep emotional response in listeners. It is hard and practically impossible to explain it with words. One has to come to the concert and listen! This is perfect program for whole world.

In your statement you are saying that a contemporary artist has to be a manager and a producer. Using what criteria are you choosing your projects? Do you choose what appeals to masses or media or is it entirely something else?

Today I am seeing domination of pop music. It does happen very often when the so called “star” bears no relationship to music. It simply happens in Russia. People become popular by luck not because they are talented.
For instance a person is travelling by train playing the guitar, drinking vodka and there is a random travelling companion who happens to be an enterprising producer and so the person sings and plays the guitar and this song becomes popular in the country. It is either very positively accepted by the general public or on the other hand it is sometimes disliked. One does not have to know Prokofiev music or Mahler’s symphonies and even more so to distinguish between the music by Franck from the composer Debussy. Now there is such a period of time in Russia when any person who starts singing is considered to be a musician. My choice is simple. For instance I want to do the project and it is interesting. I attempt to do it and I do it. Therefore I play my cello from time to time in utterly unusual projects and places in which the cello had not yet been heard before. These projects are interesting and out of the ordinary.

TV projects are the way to promote classical music to become popular?

These things are interconnected. TV is selling you to general public and TV viewers want to see you on TV.
Times are changing and when the concert is filmed then it is a celebration for everybody. Without doubt it is necessary and important for everybody. I took part in large scale projects which are designed for wide audience and it was always interesting and became a fine performance beautiful and emotionally colored. In the overall scheme of things I ultimately want to attract attention to my art.

I have a very important question. A cello and an accordion are two instruments which are radically different but you have another project with Aydar Gaynillin. Please tell us about it. What did you start with and what are your mutual plans for the future?

I recently thought of the title “Cello- Bayan revolution”
because we are undertaking something new and unique in music which in reality has a revolutionary meaning. Once the great Rastropovich was forced to play under the accompaniment of the accordion when touring in Siberia because there was no grand piano. Later Rastropovich recollected that to play under the accompaniment of an accordion is like playing under the accompaniment of a mini organ.
Our programme with Aydar Gaynillin has to an extent a distinctive quality of musical worship and pays tribute to a legendary maestro Rostropovich.
Aydar is a composer and in our project we have many musical pieces with Bach, Gluck, Chopin and Saint-Saens.
We are performing as a duet or with an orchestra. On top of that I try to create something resembling a concept of our theatre.
We already performed in a theatre production as a duet in the House of Music — Moscow, at Platonov Arts Festival in the city of Voronezh, at The Berliner Philharmonie and in the mexican city of Monterey.

There is a new CD coming soon for the new programme “ Cello Tango” together with an orchestra “ Paporotnik” (translated — fern).
The music is absolutely different. It is classical and it is jazz and these are world famous hits and all that has tango as an underlying theme. At some point in time at the peak of our mega drive I am thinking of how we can stop our train under the name of «tango express».
When making a new record we added musical associative row and vocal. When the record comes out the audience can expect many surprises.
We are planning to tour Russia and hope that everything will come out all right. I definitely know one thing we have something to say from the stage. I wish we had strength for everything.

You live mostly in New York. Musicians from the orchestra ‘’Paporotnik’’ (Fern) also have a very tight schedule. How are you developing a new programme?

Well we find the time to work on the new project. I am thinking of different combinations of music so that we could perform with a group of musicians who play tango music.
Our accordion player is an excellent composer and we play many of his pieces with the accompaniment of my cello and we use a new style in performing the melodies. All that makes it slightly different and I am anxiously waiting when our new disk comes out and hope that it will be loved and turn out to be in the set of most beloved records among our listeners and readers.

Following our tradition at the end of this interview I would like to learn a secret of Borislav Strulev Success.

You always have to be ready for success!
One has to find one’s place in life and understand who you are. One has to work with love for whatever vocation one has been born for.
And if I have to be completely honest I want to say that you have to work hard on your desired creative path of life for which the God will Thank you. One has to treasure every minute of one’s life. You have to live so that you will not feel ashamed for everything you have done in life.

Advice from Borislav Strulev!

My dear readers! The cello is the most sensuous instrument which can transmit any human emotion and if you see Borislav Strulev in this or that musical trend I can guarantee you that this project will not leave you indifferent and will help you to experience a feeling of unification with sound and possibly will make you somewhat happier.
I want to give you a piece of advise
Do not be lazy and attend concerts. Go to a concert enjoy and discover something new in music. I would like to also ask you about a small but important thing in everyone’s life.
Help each other to live. This is an integral part of happiness.
It could be a smile to a stranger. It might be showing mutual respect among car drivers. these could be other small things og showing kindness and attention to your fellow citizens
For example:” Let’s try not to be shy and say Zdravstvujte” “Hallow”, with a smile to our neighbours. “One has to be kinder and live in such a manner so that our mood would change for the better!” as my genious friend Evgeni Grishkovetz says!


You can receive more information at Borislav Strulev web page: and enjoy music and watch video clips on a personal channel in youtube – BORISLAV STRULEV — Борислав Струлев.

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An Interview with BORISLAV STRULEV)


Все-таки, гала, а не джем сешн

Когда я пришел в «сердцу милый» джаз-клуб Bird Land на 44-й улице Манхэттена и увидел ход подготовки к гала концерту […]


Новости культуры — Музыкальный фестиваль «Звезды на Байкале»

Музыкальный фестиваль «Звезды на Байкале» открылся 8 сентября в Иркутске сольным концертом Дениса Мацуева, идейного вдохновителя и художественного руководителя смотра. […]


Борислав Струлев: «Играю „Болеро“ Равеля под басню о нефтяном магнате»


21 августа исполняется 35 лет звездному музыканту, который первым начал играть на виолончели джаз и записывать с ней саундтреки к […]


Хроника Новоселья на Тургеневской

Поздравить театр пришел и президент России Владимир Путин, который отказался от предназначенной для высоких гостей ложи Годо и выбрал место […]


Top-100 самых стильных людей планеты


«Человек, имеющий ежедневные отношения с классической музыкой, в какой-то момент неминуемо проникает в суть прекрасного — в том числе и в отношении одежды…»


Новости культуры: Борислав Струлев на фестивале «Crescendo»

В эти дни в Москве проходит музыкальный фестиваль «Crescendo». Сегодняшнее выступление на фестивале одного из лучших виолончелистов планеты Борислава Струлева […]




«Музыкантом высоких оборотов, лучшим виолончелистом планеты называют Борислава Струлева музыкальные критики мира. Его исключительный темперамент и техника поражают, а обаяние и невероятный звук завораживают и очаровывают зрителей всех известных сцен мира…»


Мечтаю создать фестиваль русской музыки в Турции

Своими учителями Борислав Струлев называет Мстислава Ростроповича, Йо-Йо-Ма, Марту Истомин-Казальс, Давида Герингаса, Валентина Берлинского. С одним из ведущих виолончелистов мира […]


Музыкальный фестиваль «Crescendo»

Борислав Струлев, исполнитель музыкальной партии в фильме Бессона, примет участие в фестивале «Crescendo»…


«Crescendo-2009». По нарастающей

Предпоследний день фестиваля «Crescendo-2009» в Пскове оказался, наверное, самым разнообразным. К музыкантам присоединились театральные артисты. Вернее сказать, они к ним […]



— Как виолончелист, я работаю в очень разных направлениях, — говорит Борислав Струлев, – от классики, джаза и до поп-музыки, играю на самых значительных сценах мира.


«Виолончелист высоких оборотов» пять лет спустя

Критика наградила его целым рядом эпитетов: «виолончелист высоких оборотов», «монстр струнный», «музыкант исключительного темперамента и техники», «один из лучших виолончелистов […]



Премьера программы виолончелиста Борислава Струлева «MIX Египетских пирамид» состоялась 15 декабря в рамках фестиваля «Magic Mix» в особняке приемов и торжеств Петра Смирнова.




WASHINGTON — It was so Bob Strauss.


В Москве вручены премии «Хрустальная ладья»

9 декабря состоялась ХI ежегодная церемония вручения премии в области развития гостиничного комплекса города Москвы «Хрустальная ладья — 2005″.




Борислава Струлева называют одним из лучших виолончелистов планеты. А его дебют в нью-йоркском Карнеги-холле с легендарным пианистом Байроном Джайнисом, когда они вместе исполнили Сонату Шопена, критики назвали сенсационным.


Церемония вручения премии «Хрустальная ладья»

5 stars

Молодой, но уже хорошо известный виолончелист Борислав Струлев покорил не только слушателей всех знаменитых концертных залов мира, но и особую публику — участников прошлогодней церемонии вручения премии «Хрустальная ладья»…


Концерт фестиваля был посвящен памяти жертв трагедии в Беслане

3 октября 2005 года Госоркестр принял участие в праздновании Дня города, выступив на двух фестивалях. Это I Международный фестиваль «Музыкальный […]


Открытие Московского кинофестиваля обошлось без сюрпризов

Звезды устроили модное дефиле и остались равнодушны к итальянскому кинематографу Ксения Иванова 18 июня 2005 В пятницу вечером в столице […]


Виолончель – это cool

На днях завершился фестиваль Crescendo, который придумал известный музыкант, победитель последнего Конкурса им. Чайковского Денис Мацуев. Идея Crescendo – представить […]


Cellist, MSO apply heat to Latin beats of new concerto


Borislav Strulev premiered it in Sweden in June, and now the concerto has found its way to Milwaukee. Strulev played the U.S. premiere here Friday, with guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the MSO.


Борислав Струлев: Играет не плоть, играет – дух…

Борислава Струлева в Иркутск на самый первый фестиваль классической музыки «Звезды на Байкале» привез наш знаменитый земляк Денис Мацуев. С […]


БОРИСЛАВ СТРУЛЁВ сыграл концерт ВИЛЬАМА ВОЛТОНА с большим увлечением

Концерт В. Волтона был сыгран на высочайшем уровне. Выходец из России, виолончелист Борислав Струлёв играл с невироятно сильной концентрацией. Обычно […]



“Виолончелист Борислав Струлёв наэлектризовал зрителей.” — Написал Пер-Инге Планефорс Не меньше, чем 3.500 оборотов в минуту. Я конечно имею ввиду […]