Russian teenager Vsevolod Brigida is a normal music prodigy

Russian teenager Vsevolod Brigida is a normal music prodigy

Whatever you do, don't tell Russian teenager Vsevolod Brigida he's a 'Little Mozart'

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Vsevolod Brigada, 17, jokingly shows off his piano technique at the Fringe Club.
Vsevolod Brigada, 17, jokingly shows off his piano technique at the Fringe Club.
Photo: Melanie Leung/SCMP

Parallels are often drawn between talented young people and other high achievers. Singer Connie Talbot, 13, has been dubbed "the next Charlotte Church", and Russian child piano prodigy Vsevolod Brigida has been called "Little Mozart" ever since he began performing at age six.

He hates it. "Mozart was a genius, and I'm a normal man. I just want to play the piano well," says the 17-year-old, whose longish curly hairstyle is reminiscent of what the Austrian classical composer used to have.

"I just live and study," he says, referring to "study" as practising. "I get up, I start studying, I study until the neighbour starts banging on his ceiling, and then I stop. I go to drink some tea. It's very boring, especially when it's [been going on for] eight years."

The only son of two pianists, Vsevolod auditioned in front of renowned cellist Mstislav Rostropovich when he was six. He was the youngest player at the audition. "Everybody else was starting from 15 years [old], and I was like this," says Vsevolod, gesturing to show how short he was. "Most of them were even from the [music] conservatory, so they were 20 or older." Rostropovich became Vsevolod's friend and mentor, and even gave him his own piano. He also gave Vsevolod opportunities to perform in the United States, France and other countries.

Currently a second-year student at Chopin State Music College, Vsevolod is in Hong Kong to perform at the annual cultural event From Russia With Art. Speaking to Young Post at the Fringe Club in Central, the tall, lanky pianist with the beginnings of a moustache says his life doesn't always revolve around music. "I do a lot of different things, and not all of them are useful," he says. "Sometimes I read something useless, like jokes on the internet. Sometimes I read clever books, like philosophy."

While classical music takes a lot of practice to master, Vsevolod says he doesn't practise more than he needs to. First, he needs to play all the notes right. Then he listens to YouTube to decide what tempo is best for the song. He also has to play the notes in a certain loudness and quality, and connect them so they sound good together. "Here, it is more sharp, here it is more slow, here it is more ... uh, OK, I don't know such words in English, really. It's easier to talk about it in Russian," he tries to explain. "Until it is good, I will practise. If I need six or seven hours, I will do six or seven hours."

Has there been a time when he wanted to give up? "No," he says firmly. "I don't like such thoughts, because they are pointless." Instead, he gives himself a break and tries again the next day. "You need some time to 'ripen'."

His parents never had to force him, either. On the contrary, he asks them to remind him to practise because he tends to get caught up in an interesting book or a game of Doodle Jump.

Vsevolod tried playing the violin when he was small, but joked that his practice sessions often ended in him using "violent" language. "You need to move your [bow] hand very slowly and smoothly. I can't. I'm very clumsy. Playing the piano is very simple because I have nimble fingers.

"I have chosen [the piano] as my career now. But I also like programming, and maybe design, and mathematics. If I don't succeed, there are other options."

With his many gestures, facial expressions and funny stories, he might make a good comedian, too.

Vsevolod Brigida will perform today at 7.30pm at the Red Square Gallery in Stanley

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
A normal music prodigy

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