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He vows he would never be on a jury, making the kind of decision that determines someone’s future, but at the same time he brims with gratitude for the judges who selected him - themselves performers aware that even superb pianists can forget a few notes.
Set up by Belgium’s Queen Elisabeth, the Brussels-based contest is one of a handful of truly great springboards for a musician’s career. On the strength of it, Giltburg has more than 80 concerts worldwide before the end of the year.
They include performances in Russia, where he was born, and Israel, where he has lived since his family emigrated there in 1990.
While the family was on the move, Giltburg briefly tried to learn the violin, but there was no affinity and he persuaded his reluctant mother, who thought there were enough pianists in the family, that she had to teach him. “She’s still my harshest critic,” he said.
He also studied with Israel’s Arie Vardi and attended the Buhmann-Mehta Academy of Music, part of Tel Aviv University.
For the future, he said there will be no more competitions, only concert performances, which he loves.
“It’s my main driver forward. There comes a point where you can’t advance any more without performing before an audience. It’s the real thing, which is un-simulate-able,” he said.
In concerts, technical perfection takes second place to creating an atmosphere and communicating and Giltburg has a mission to reach beyond the typical classical audience.
He has a Facebook page and a blog to try to explain to the non-initiated classical music’s power. “Music, as a creation of humanity, there’s little I would place above it,” he said. “I want to bring the same kind of feeling to everybody.”