Aldona Dvarionaitė

Aldona Dvarionaitė was born and raised in the well-known in Kaunas Dvarionai family.  Balys Dvarionas, the father, a pianist and composer, gained his education in Leipzig, Berlin, Salzburg, was at that time a conductor of the Kaunas Symphony Orchestra Radiofonas. The mother was also a pianist of a vivid temperament. Aldona grew in an artistic environment, surrounded by poets, writers and composers from Kaunas, and later form Vilnius. The circle of such guests included some coming from further away: Heinrich and Stanislav Neuhaus, Lazar Berman, Lev Vlasenko, Dmitri Bashkirov, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich… When the little Aldona started playing the piano, her father created a piece on her each birthday (on May 18). This is how “Little Suite” was born. Aldona became a performer of other compositions by Dvarionas, too.

After the Dvarionai moved to Vilnius in 1949, Aldona studied in the Ten-Year Music School (later M.K.Čiurlionis School of Art), in the class of Marieta Azizbekova, who had just graduated from the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. The features of Aldona’s artistic impression and strong technique instantaneously manifested themselves. On graduation from the school as the best pianist, she, for the first time, played F.Liszt Concert A-dur – a composition of passionate romance that captured her for all her life – with the State Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra was conducted by B.Dvarionas. Afterwards, it was followed by the successful first performance of B.Dvarionas Concert G-mol in Tallinn.

After an impressive concert of Heinrich and Stanislav Neuhaus in the Vilnius Philharmonic Society, where F.Liszt and A.Scriabin concerts were conducted by B. Dvarionas, Aldona’s biggest dream was to become a student of H.Neuhaus. And the dream came true – after hearing, Neuhaus admitted Aldona to his class!

“A man entered into Aldon’s life who, beside the mother and father, became the greatest authority on all subjects, and she followed his principles for the rest of her life”, says Jurgis Dvarionas, Aldona’s brother and a violist, a student of the Moscow Conservatory. Studies at the then P.Tchaikovsky Conservatory and concerts of the most famous artists were the richest and most beautiful years for the young Aldona and Jurgis, establishing the uppermost understanding and impulse to reach for heights of music performance.

“I could not recall a lesson of Neuhaus without any comparisons of music with poetry, painting, and architecture” wrote Aldona to her family. Neuhaus was always striving to engage his students into conversations, discussions with all the artists around them. This is how Aldona got acquainted with Svetoslav Richter and listened to him in her home environment. Aldona felt the Neuhausic sound sense – perhaps, the most distinct feature of the Neuhaus school, revealing the most intimate thoughts. These were plenty in the Aldona’s possession.

“I am prone to think that I have to find a contact with the audience through toughing the instrument with my fingers, and this is the only way for me to reveal that truth, discovered by me and told in the notes of a composer, in the most comprehensive and intimate way”, once explained Aldona in the “Vartai” Gallery.

After the post-graduate course at Stanislav Neuhaus (after the death of Heinrich), her life was remarkable, spirited and abundant. Aldona, together with her brother, played in Carnegi Recital Hall, in New York (1973), which was an event in Lithuania for that time; later, there followed concerts in Russia and Europe with the brother or solo.

Aldona married a Polish painter Jerzi Korzeniawski, lived and gave concerts in Poland. Here, with her typical swing, she engaged into the musical life of Poland, into festivals of Droba Krzysztof, playing at the Chopin Statue in Łazienki Park, travelling with lectures of V.Landsbergis and playing M.K.Čiurlionis… The list of her activities in Poland would be endless, and in this country, she was awarded the highest appreciation, given to the most celebrated artists in the world.

Bohdan Pociej:”Such recitals as the one devoted to Liszt in Baranov become historical.  A romantic artist Dvarionaitė has, as not so many artists, a gift of ability to create musical images, obtaining an incredible scale of sounds and power from the fortepiano, congenially sensing a distinct glide of long intervals of time and a large form of masterly works of Liszt. And me, I can finally understand this form and appreciate it. The art of her interpretation – the Liszt’s clef – demonstrates that this music can be performed only by the most eminent pianists.”

Stanislaw Kosza:”Dvarionaitė is an absolutely unique artist, dowered with a musical imagination of such intensity, so rarely met today…”

The concerts of Dvarionaitė in Lithuania were always special in one or another way. With her performance, she was able to agitate smoothly running waters or immerse us into that intimate oasis. She would not leave you indifferent.

“The Eternal Wanderer” (this is how Audronė Girdzijauskaitė titled the edited book of memoires and conversations about Aldona, “Krantai” 2004 ) settled in Spain and lectured in a private conservatory for a year. She admired Spain, loved its blue sky and nature, that posture with a lifted head of its people, their character, and, it goes without saying, flamenco. There was born Aldona’s performance of Mujeres Españolas (Women of Spain) by Joaquin Turina – typical pictures of women from Spanish regions. The execution of “the portraits” was the highest peak of Aldona’s interpretation of equal strength with Horowitz, as the majority of pianists say. Aldona continuously improved this composition, played it to everyone asking, expecting remarks and opinions, reaching for unreachable.

“The Wanderer” was the World’s Person: she played in Lithuania, in the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, belonged to juries in Spain, France, played in a dusty saloon for Jonas Mekas and gave concerts in America, California…

There were troubles and painful days, no doubt. She could scarify – not playing at all when taking care of her mother. All calamities were met holding her head high up. This was also how she passed away.

On 16 December, 2000, the second program of the Polish Radio devoted a three hours’ broadcast to Aldona Dvarionaitė, using her records, and comments of journalists and musicologists.



Aleksandras Jurgelionis