While the younger generation of musicians takes Lebanon by storm at Al-Bustan, a seasoned international violinist of the old school discretely performs at the AUB Assembly Hall on Friday evening.
Jean Ter-Merguerian is no stranger to the Lebanese public. He was an invited guest at the Assembly Hall in 1973 and this is his first performance in the country since.
The international awards that Ter-Merguerian holds are enough to make any musician’s jaw drop.
Born in Armenia, Ter-Merguerian left the country in 1947 to complete his violin studies in the Moscow Conservatoire. His teacher, David Oistrakh, is known for his intense discipline, elegant musicianship and friendships with the greatest Russian composers. Oistrakh’s interpretations remain references for artists today.
Ter-Merguerian’s technical prowess has earned him worldwide acclaim. He entered the competition circuit in 1956 at the Prague Spring Festival. Two years later, he was a prize-winner at the daunting Tchaikovsky contest in Moscow. His biggest success came in 1961 at the Parisian competition, the Concours Marguerite Long/Jacques Thibaud, where he picked up the grand prize.
He has performed throughout the world, but chose France as his base.
Ter-Merguerian weighs his words carefully when he speaks of music.
“The most important thing I have to say to young artists today is that they must love the music. And then, of course, they must work very hard! That’s all there is to it,” he says.
Ter-Merguerian will perform a rich program at AUB including Beethoven’s Spring Sonata, the Chaconne by Bach, Brahms Scherzo, Mozart Rondo, Wieniawski Scerzo tarantella, and short pieces by Kreisler, Khatchadourian and Gomidas.
The concert provides a good balance between virtuosic showpieces such as the Wieniawski and weighty music.
Ter-Merguerian says that he made last-minute additions to his program to accommodate public requests: “People had heard echoes about how I play Bach, so they asked that I include the Chaconne, and the Brahms Scherzo is one of my favorites.”
This work comes from a sonata that Brahms wrote in collaboration with composer friends, including Robert Schumann. Each contributed a movement, and Brahms’ contribution was an expressive, lyrical scherzo as third movement.
Coming fast on the heels of young British violinist Matthew Trusler at Al-Bustan, this concert will be a good opportunity for music lovers to experience the traditional, Russian school of violin playing as compared to what European and American-trained performers are doing today.
There is considerable overlap between Ter-Merguerian’s and Trusler’s programs: both include the Chaconne and the Spring Sonata. The Chaconne allows for personal interpretations and is the ultimate challenge of a violinist’s musicianship.