The Russian pianist is touring Australia in celebration of the Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia’s 40th birthday.

1. Three underrated composers?

Most of them are Russian composers:

Nikolai Medtner

Nikolai Roslavets

Samuil Feinberg

Pianist Andrey Gugnin. Photo © Daniel Boud.

2. Your most memorable musical experience as an audience member?

Last December, my friend Vadym Kholodenko performed in the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was really fascinating how he keeps growing and developing in the maturity and precision in his performances.

3. Three piano heroes?

Emil Gilels

Glenn Gould

Sergei Rachmaninoff

4. Your proudest moment onstage?

It was a recent recital in April in the city of Zagreb in Croatia where I had the privilege of playing an old Pleyel piano that is now rare to find.

5. Which historical composer would you commission a concerto from?

Modest Mussorgsky. I utterly love his music, though he never composed anything for the piano and orchestra, sadly.

6. If you weren’t a pianist, what would you be?

Probably a mathematician, I enjoy math and was surrounded by it in my childhood. Both my brother and father are mathematicians.

7. Three pieces of music you could happily never hear again?

Five to seven years ago they made a revival of a jazz classic We No Speak Americano, it was not my favourite.

Psy’s Gangnam Style

Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up

8. A recording everyone should own?

A recording by the London Philharmonic Orchestra of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No 7 led by conductor Bernard Haitink.

9. A conductor of the past or present you’d like to perform with?

Gustav Mahler

10. Favourite place in the world?

Anywhere along the coast of Croatia.

11. Clichés about pianists that bug you?

Probably the assumption that a pianist always wants to take the stage as soon as they see that there is a piano and expect us to play, and that they are fascinated with memorisation rather than how the music is played.

12. A film you could watch over and over again?

Bad Santa

13. Three favourite books?

Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov

Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Centaur – John Updike

14. Your favourite food?

Pasta – all types of pasta.

15. Favourite thing to do to relax?

To go for a jog in a wild, unknown place and go exploring.

16. Funniest moment onstage?

Sometimes there is a sound the chair makes when you adjust, and it is really awkward in a hall of silence when everyone is watching.

There was also a time when I was accompanying violinist Tasmin Little in Townsville for the Chamber Festival. I was navigating the pages of music with the iPad and accidentally pressed a wrong button, which navigated to the wrong page, and I unexpectedly had to play by heart for a while until I managed to find the right page.

17. The last book that moved you?

I just read a book by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It was written beautifully and encourages us to appreciate more of life.

18. Three guilty pleasures?

Watching some soapy TV. I am currently watching House of Cards, the American version.

Indulging in creamy pasta or a burger late at night.

Listening to pop music which may not be considered ‘great quality’.

19. Three people of the past or present to invite round to dinner?

Vladimir Nabokov.


Nikola Tesla.

20. Most rewarding aspect of being a pianist?

To be able to see and feel the impact of your performance on the audience. After one of my first performances during this current tour, a couple approached me, and the man was in tears. They had recently lost their child and the pain was unbearable. They told me that listening to the concert made them feel at peace.

Andrey Gugnin is currently touring a number of venues across Australia, playing Bach, Schubert, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky.