You grew up after World War II in Georgia in the former Soviet Union. Was that an optimistic time to be learning music?

Absolutely. Georgia was really a very friendly land. My parents arrived there towards the end of the war. They were from Odessa, but I was born in Georgia. My mother, she had studied piano and she absolutely wanted me to do it as well. I was very keen, and it was very easy to begin. I started at music school when I was seven and continued from there without stopping. I was at music school for five years and then at the conservatory. And then at 18 I moved to Moscow.

What made you move to Moscow?

I wanted to continue and I wanted to learn new things. I must say that Tbilisi is really a very nice place. It has a nice tradition for piano music with old connections to St. Petersburg and to Moscow. And really now you see how many wonderful pianists have come from there. But in my time, I was absolutely sure I had to change to Moscow to continue.

And how different did you find Moscow?

The level of playing around me was very different....

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