The celestial

Arman Murzagaliev is a heaven born violin player. He was only five when he was taking adult musicians aback, prompting them all the time when they should begin, and could easily correct rhythm. 

Arman Murzagaliev is a real phenomenon.  He is beyond all the bounds. Because he doesn’t simply perform on the stage. He breathes and lives his life there. And he lives there with pleasure. Orchestra musicians smile, plugged into this drive of his. He is just the one that Americans and Europeans call organic – natural and innate on the stage, and at that absolutely free in his everyday life here on Earth. I draw a conclusion from this: Arman is a celestial. This boy with long, Paganini-like hair and inward gaze exists somewhere so high, where access for us is denied. Completely. We can only touch this for a short time and be lifted higher in the moments when he plays his violin.

Still being in the kindergarten, Arman organized his own musical band. He performed auditions there, distributed trowels, shovels and buckets as musical instruments among children, held rehearsals. Around that same period he got his first violin in life. It was foredoomed for him. Maternally, he is from Shanin dynasty. The first Kazakh stage director Zhumat Shanin was from that dynasty. There always were actors, singers and musicians in the family, and among them there was a violinist, too – Raupbek Shanin. He died incredibly early, but those who are alive retained his passion for music.

Kassymkhan Shanin, Arman’s granddad, was an actor of stage and movies. One day he said out loud: when my grandson is born, I want him to play violin. Arman’s mum never forgot this. So, a grandson was born and he played no instrument until the age of five, but one summer day, when he stayed at his loved grandma’s in Shymkent, she bought him a plain-looking violin in a village shop. Arman immediately took it in the proper manner as if he knew how, and pressed it against his chin. Its strings were coarse and gut, and there was no bow at all, but when he stormed into the yard with an instrument, he created a furor. Children gathered round him and stood motionless, and at that very moment Arman realized once and for all how it feels to be in the limelight and the magic of standing before a live audience.

Next there was admittance to Baisseitova’s musical school. At the entrance exam he was asked to tap some rhythm, to sing, to repeat something. He could not understand for quite a while what was happening there… it seemed so primitive to him, and when at last he understood, he was extremely insulted. He climbed the stage and fervently began performing a song about “the green bushy maple, its leafs are carved”. It was funny. All the board members were under the desk, roaring with laughter, but they realized that this little kid was a person of natural gifts. Next, everyone was congratulating his mum, and thus began Arman Murzagaliev’s way into the world of music.

No talent in the world is free from hard work. Never. Svetlana Aliakbarovna Abdusadykova became Arman’s teacher. She was the brilliant pedagogue, fine person, who graduated from the good old Gnessinka (Russian Music Academy named after Gnessins). According to Arman, the essential thing that she gave him is the ability and desire to work hard. Eleven years of non-stop hard work and complete absence of childhood do mean something. And moreover, she always spoke to him like to an adult.

One day he was late for his class. He went to his friend’s birthday party and so he was late. When he stormed into the class, he didn’t expect to find anybody there. However, his teacher was there. Arman was afraid of her, because she was a person of the violent temper. But this time Svetlana Aliakbarovna composedly asked Arman, where he was and why he was late, and said: “You neither fully enjoyed your friend’s birthday party, nor came to your class on time. You must be able to decide what is most important for you at this very moment and then do only this single thing”. Since then Arman has never tried to kill two birds with one stone. Work means work, rest means rest. And next, by the way, Arman had to choose between the violin and… football. Because he suddenly began playing football, and playing so good that there rose a question whether he should be transferred to the sport school. We see that it’s just the case when a talented person is talented in everything. He picked music.

Arman entered the Moscow conservatory easily. Arman was afraid of nothing.  He arrived in Moscow so prepared and self-assured that he simply had no doubts at all. And after that he was drafted into the military right away. First four months he did his military service in the School of Military Engineering and Radio Electronics in Voronezh. From there he was called back to Moscow, to perform in the Ensemble of song and dance, and he traveled with them around almost the entire country, and after the military service had been finished, he came back to the conservatory to study and spent his best ten years in Moscow.

Moscow gave him very much. The best musicians performing on tour, classical and not very classical ones; movies, stage plays, exhibitions – it was a completely different life. Arman’s teacher was Levon Ambartsumian, big-name and brilliant violin player, the founder of ARCO chamber orchestra in Moscow. Levon was rather his older friend and wise preceptor than the mentor.  He knew that this boy would well achieve everything and he only wanted his student to become a truly great musician and great man, who always knows who he is and what he does.

One day, Arman was performing Wieniawski’s fantasia on themes from Gounod’s opera “Faust”. Levon said to him: “Wait, do you know what this music is about? You don’t? Then go and read about it”. Ambartsumian filled Arman with the contents that it is impossible to make a true musician without. A musician who performs not with his hands and mind only, but with his heart, too. Because only in this case you make it fly, you manage just to amalgamate with music and live in every moment of it. And the main thing is every time you go out onto the stage to go through these moments anew, not like it was the last time.

Arman is passionate about music that speaks to him. And he loves various styles of music, including those grating on unprepared audience’s ears: Schnittke, Bartok, Messian, Pärt, Kirschner, Prokofiev.

What about his favourite composers? It’s a hard question to answer. Bach and his music is a separate, unexplainable and distant planet; you may only try to approach it continually. Mahler and Schubert just started to open for him.

And, by the way, why only music and why only classical one? He adores works by Gustav Klimt and Modigliani, admires Javier Bardem’s genius for acting and the poignant sound of the Mongolian instrument morin khuur. He loves Ivan Lins’ and Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s music.

He listens to Batyrkhan Shukenov’s songs and admires his work.

Creative activity and music may be different, but the most interesting are those, which are given from the heart with inspiration. He is not interested in performing 115 concerts per year, but in WHAT he does and HOW he does it. He will never trust his violin to anyone, even just to hold it. “My violin and bow are the part of me”, Arman says. “It’s my most loyal and very intimate love. Isn’t it impossible to give someone to hold your soul?”

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