[FOUNTAIN]From Russia with love

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[FOUNTAIN]From Russia with love

The Moscow Conservatory, also known as the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, is linked more to the Rubinstein brothers than to the Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky. The first president of the conservatory was Nicholas Rubinstein, who was the younger brother of Anton Rubinstein, known as the Emperor of the Piano. The elder Rubinstein founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory, the first Russian conservatory, in 1862. The younger Rubinstein founded the Moscow Conservatory in 1866. That is why Nicholas Rubinstein's face is embossed on the wall of the concert hall of the conservatory.

Ever since Tchaikovsky taught harmonics at the Moscow Conservatory, famous Russian musicians have studied or taught at the institution. Contemporary virtuosos such as the composers Aram Khachaturian and Dmitri Kabalevsky, the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, the pianist Lev Oborin, and the violinists Jascha Heifetz and David Oistrakh have all enrolled at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory.

After they became celebrated musicians, this group frequently returned to the conservatory to teach. When Seoul and Moscow signed a treaty of amity, many Korean students entered the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. The pianist Lim Dong-hyuk was one. Mr. Lim's father reportedly chose Moscow for his son, who wanted to play piano all his life, as music lessons in Korea were too expensive.

Mr. Lim was lucky to meet the talented professor Lev Naumov at the conservatory. Mr. Naumov praised the young boy, saying that he was a virtuoso who brought glory to the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. But Mr. Lim had several disappointments. The greatest setback in his life came when he finished fifth in the Buzzoni Awards in Italy in 2000, due to biased referees. He reportedly shed tears at the result. But a few hours later his tears of sorrow turned into tears of joy. The Italian press and music fans who were moved by his talent, which stood out when the qualifying round began, protested. The incident developed into the biggest music scandal in Italy that year.

Martha Argerich, who is called the Empress of the Piano, telephoned after the incident and offered to be Mr. Lim's sponsor.

Mr. Lim paid off the old scores at the 2001 Concours International music competition in Paris, by winning first prize, the youngest to win the award. He swept four other prizes.

Mr. Lim made his Korean debut Sept. 7 in southern Seoul. After the concert the line for those seeking his autograph stretched more than 100 meters.

The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.

by Kim Seok-hwan

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