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The Study of Nina Lvovna Dorliak

Nina Dorliak's study has become a kind of small “museum” in the Memorial Apartment. A fine chamber singer and teacher, she came from a family with a singing pedigree that, according to the family legend, goes back to Pauline Viardot herself. On the wall is a photograph of her mother, Ksenia Nikolayevna Dorliak, the famous Russian singerwho performed leading operatic roles on the stages of Russia and Europe, and her brother Dmitri Dorliak, an actor at the Vakhtangov Theatre in the 1930s who died young.

They met in 1943, the “gracefully graphic” Nina Dorliak and the young Sviatoslav Richter “with his red, red hair, very thin and terribly impetuous”, is how she remembers him.

In March 1945, just before the end of the war, they performed together for the first time at a Sergei Pro­kofiev evening in the Small Hall of the Conservatory. This appearance was a major event in the Moscow music world. The pure, effortless soprano merged with the magical notes of the music. Many music-lovers still remember romances by Glinka, Schumann .and Rachrnaninov and Mussorgsky songs performed by the charming couple. They made a most harmonic pair both on and off the stage. In the fifty years or so that they lived together, they always used the polite form “Вы” when addressing each other.

Nina Lvovna stopped singing rather early to devote herself to the family and her teaching at the Conservatory. Richter's tireless, titanic work, the future of her beloved pupils, and the nephew whom she brought up after her brother's death, all made demands on her. She also had to protect Richter from the excessive attention of his numerous admirers. She was a sincere and loyal friend to him and also a judge, who expressed her opinion tactfully and impartially. During the constant home rehearsals, after the energetic commands to his musical partner to “change pianos” and the endless repetitions and run-throughs, Richter would say, “And now let's listen to Nina”. It was Nina who prepared the sandwiches and tea. Sviatoslav Teofilovich would whisper to her, “We'll have a buffet in the interval, so lay everything out on the oval table”. And if the phone suddenly rang, it was Nina who hurried to pick up the receiver, because Richter hated the telephone, and his request to “Put another two cushions over the phone, please” did not come as a surprise to anyone. The only exception he made was when Nina rang him during his tours.