Russian Cellist Natalia Gutman to Begin US Tour

On Sunday, January 22, renowned Russian cellist Natalia Gutman will begin her five-month American tour by playing a concert at Sanders Theatre. Gutman’s performances in the United States have been rare, as her travel was once strictly limited by the Soviet government.

Gutman will be accompanied by her son, violinist Slava Moroz and pianist Dmitri Shteinberg in a program of four pieces: Brahms’ “Sonata N.1 E Minor,” Arensky’s “Trio in D Minor, Op. 32,”

Schumann’s “Five Pieces in Folk-style, Op. 102,” and Shostakovich’s “Piano Trio N.2 in E Minor.”

Gutman writes in a translated e-mail that in her Harvard recital she wants to “show and compare the Romanticism of Russian composer Arensky, pupil of Tchaikovsky, who is not well known and rarely performed, with the Romanticism of the well-known German composer Brahms.”

“Shostakovich is one of my favorite composers to perform,” she writes, calling Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2 “one of his most remarkable and marvelous pieces.”

The internationally popular cellist was, in the 1970s, forbidden from leaving the Soviet Union for nine years, under accusations of “serious acts against the government.” She says the reasons for her detainment were never fully explained to her. After playing with the American Symphony Orchestra in 1969, Gutman was declined a visa to return to the United States the following year. She says she was told secretly that this restriction resulted from her support of two political dissidents and fellow Russian Jewish musicians, Misha Maisky and Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich.

Gutman says she resisted the Soviet government’s insistence that she cut ties with her friends, and tells of a tense interview held with government authorities while she was pursuing her visa. “I said that if they think that I am going to behave differently, I suggest they did not let me go at all because that is who I am,” she recalls.

Gutman’s career flourished in Europe when her restrictions were eventually lifted, but she has only slowly made her way back across the Atlantic to America. In the 1990s, she performed as a soloist with the Houston Symphony and The Philadelphia Orchestra, in 2004 with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Kurt Masur, and, in 2005, she gave recitals and concerts in Baltimore, Boston and California, including with the San Francisco Symphony under Kurt Masur.

Gutman says she enjoys performing before a young audience, making university appearances like the one at Harvard particularly important to her. “In Europe I [am] used to seeing ‘grey hair’ in the audience and this is really sad,” she writes. “Music gives so much to the young soul.”

She also expresses hope for the cultural future of Russian youth. “In Moscow, I see more and more young people interested in classical music,” she writes.

Recently, Gutman has taken a particular interest in promoting and supporting young musicians. She has developed a workshop called “Berlin Encounters,” an annual chamber music event in which experienced instrumentalists work with talented young musicians.

“My advice to young musicians (and all of my students) is not to look for money in the beginning of your career but develop and cultivate a great passion for chamber music,” Gutman writes. “Look for partners and like-minded people that share your interests and understand you as a musician.”

After the Sanders Theatre performance, Gutman will perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Terrace Theatre in Washington, D. C.,; North Shore Center in Skokie, IL; Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theatre in Philadelphia; and Lincoln Center in New York.

Recital of Natalia Gutman at Sanders Theatre. Sunday, Jan. 22, 2006. 7:00 PM. Tickets $34.50, $46.50, and $56.50 with a $5.00 senior discount and a 50% student discount (with a valid ID). Tickets are available by calling the Harvard Box Office 617-496-2222 or through the website box office,

--Staff writer Kristina M. Moore can be reached at