Harrogate concert: Return of violin master who beat Soviet system

Violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky.
Violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky.

For the penultimate concert of the Spring Sunday Series, audiences at Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel will get the chance to see a great artists playing a rare violin that’s almost 300 years-old.

The return of Dmitry Sitkovetsky to Harrogate after fully a quarter of a century, offers a priceless opportunity to see the Russian master in action.

Appearing in this Harrogate International Festivals event on Sunday, March 30 at 11am, Sitkovetsky is an artist who defies categorisation – a violinist, conductor, arranger and festival director.

His Stradivarius violin is valued in the millions. Built in 1717, it’s fitting that Dmitry cherishes an instrument that speaks such musical heritage.

Speaking from New York, Dmitry said:“I probably spend more time with the violin than my own family. It’s been my faithful companion for more than 30 years.”

A fourth-generation violinist born into Russia’s music aristocracy, his mother is the pianist Bella Davidovich, his father Julian, was also a violinist destined for greatness before dying of cancer aged just 33.

Dmitry’s own life story matches that of any great Russian novel.

Growing up in communist Moscow, at aged 22, he faked tendonitis to escape the regime.

He said: “You have to know what the regime was like in 1977. It was not possible to emigrate. I had two possibilities, to compete internationally and then defect, but that would have affected my mother, a famous pianist, it would have been the end of her, she’d be the mother of a criminal.

“The other possibility was risky because in order to emigrate I had to convince the authorities I was no longer a valuable asset to them. Soviets gave the best music education, it was unmatched, so they wanted a return on their investment.

“I convinced them I could no longer play the violin. I went to hospital and got the doctors to say I had tendonitis and couldn’t play, I cancelled all concerts, and six months later I applied to leave. It was a long and risky plan which worked. I came to New York with nothing, not even my violin. But I beat the regime.”

For tickets, call the box office on 01423 562 303 or visit www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com