Monday, September 21, 2009

Jura Margulis Coming to Classical Underground!

CU celebrates the first participation of an old friend, the international concert pianist and recording artist Jura Margulis, who comes to LA to play for us from Fayetteville, where he is the McAllister Professor of Piano at the University of Arkansas.

When Jura Margulis will come up to play on Sept. 28, it will certainly be a rare moment for all music lovers at CU; it will also be a very special moment for me personally. It is not only because Jura is a world class pianist and a close personal friend, it is also because Jura is a second generation of world class pianists close personal friends.
His father, Prof. Vitaly Margulis, one of the world greatest and renowned piano gurus whom I consider one of genuine High Priests of Music and Arts, is one of the friends of youth of my father. He is also one of the essential influences in my love of Classical Music. It started way back in the late 40s, very hard years right after the devastation of Nazi invasion and what is known in Russia as Great Patriotic War. My Dad’s first love Emma, a wonderful pianist with whom they remained life-long friends, once took him, as she put it very simply and understatedly, to “hear a Genius.” My Dad was a bright young star-student at the Leningrad Art Academy /Repin Institute/ and the “Genius” was a star-student of the Leningrad Conservatory rocking the vibrant world of Leningrad music lovers. It was, of course, Vitaly Margulis. They became instant friends until Vitaly immigrated to the West in the 70s to become one of the world’s most admired piano teachers and a musicians’ musician. After not seeing each other for almost 25 years, they improbably reunited in Los Angeles as Vitaly came from Germany to assume his professor position at UCLA.

Childhood memories of our Kiev living-room gatherings and Vitaly’s world of worshipping true ART and the magic of inseparable interaction of music and painting that he brought with him to LA became some of the most important inspirations for our Classical Underground model. Soon after joyous and much celebrated in various forms reunion, which included incidentally our joined experience of 1994 Northridge Earthquake in our Marina Del Rey apartment, I met Jura, who just came to the US to study with legendary Leon Fleisher in Baltimore.

Right after we met and started talking, we’d spend till morning wee hours in a continuous conversations (amongst other things) about ART, its place and future in human society, about our visions, dreams, and hopes. Rarely had I seen anyone with a similar combination and facility of musical and intellectual prowess. Rarely had I met anyone who shared my views on ART and its future more fundamentally and intensely. Some of our grand ideas turned into earliest projects in spreading our message that we created together. For over a decade, before CU, we have been talking about what is High ART and how to guard and preserve it for posterity, how to give it new life and how to present it to the present, how it can and will change the world. What fun it was…and most definitely, many years after, still is.

I shall say no more of Jura, as his numerous recordings, international critical praise and his unique and magnificent music making speak for themselves. Come, meet, and hear him on September 28th.

Alexey Steele

P.S. Jura, a Steinway Artist, is the reason we will have a magnificent Steinway Grand piano for our concert on September 28th. When he visited CU in May this year, he said: we need a better piano. He contacted Steinway in New York, pulled a few strings, and sure enough – with great people like Gavin at Steinway Hollywood we got a full feature sponsoring of our event. We hope this is the beginning of a long friendship ...

About Jura Margulis:

Pianist Jura Margulis has been recognized for his compellingly communicative performances, as well as for the range of his tonal palette and his consummate virtuosity. Reviewers have praised the “absolute authority” of his interpretations and the sense of “controlled obsession” he transmits at the keyboard (Fono Forum). The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted that his aesthetic is both “impulsive and contemplative.” The Los Angeles Times praised his “excellent pianism” and called him “highly musical”. The Washington Post applauded his “titanic reserves of sheer power” and his “effortless spontaneity.”

His orchestral appearances include performances with the Russian National Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and the S├╝dwestrundfunk Orchestra. He has played in numerous festivals, including the Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival, the Berliner Festwochen, the International Sommeracademy Mozarteum in Austria, the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and the Argerich-Beppu Music Festival in Japan. He has won prizes in more than a dozen international competitions, including Busoni in Italy and Guardian in Ireland. He is also a recipient of the esteemed Pro Europa prize awarded by the European Foundation for Culture. Active as a chamber musician, Margulis has performed recitals with, among others, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, the soloists of the Moscow Virtuosi, members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Moscow String Quartet. He also concertizes with Martha Argerich on two pianos in Germany, Japan, and the USA.

Margulis latest CD

Margulis is a third generation pianist and teacher and gives master classes in the USA, Europe, and Asia. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Jura Margulis was raised in Germany, where he studied with his father, Dr. Vitaly Margulis, at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg. He was also a student at the prestigious Fondazione per il Pianoforte in Cadenabbia at Lake Como in Italy. He moved to the United States to study with Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, and made the US his home. Margulis is the inaugural holder of the "Emily J. McAllister Endowed Professorship in Piano" at the J.W. Fulbright College of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Jura Margulis’ full bio can be seen at

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