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Perhaps you have to be as old as I am to be quite as excited about a book arriving from Russia, but it’s doubly exciting since I ordered it on 9th July this year, and with a combination of the inexplicable glacial slowness of internet shopping and shipping from Russia with fewer planes to fly the goods on, it has literally only just arrived today. I only knew about Galina Bezuglaya’s first book on ballet accompanying because the late Holly Price, a colleague at the RAD, brought it back with her from her visit to the Vaganova Academy, and gave it to me on a don’t-know-how-long-loan, knowing that I would be able to read it and would appreciate it. Which I did. I only discovered recently that there is now a second book, which expands on the first, and so I went online and ordered it.  

I have never met Galina Bezuglaya, but reading her work I feel as if we are often uncannily tuned to the same signals in the ether, since we have both written at times about exactly the same thing, without conferring (especially about meter).  I’m pretty sure there isn’t another book like this in the world, that is so well researched, and which gives you the principles and background you need to understand vocational ballet classes and company work, at the same time as discussing the pros and cons of improvisation or ballet repertoire in class. I’ve already written at some length on her article about the piano/violin watershed in the history of ballet accompaniment, an article which forms one of the chapters of this book. It’s quite brilliant, in my view, and if you don’t read Russian, the blog post will give you some idea of the depth of analysis that Bezuglaya goes into. If you do read Russian, this is one for the bookshelf if you’re a ballet pianist. 

Galina Bezuglaya's second book "The New Ballet Accompanist"




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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist