Georgian pianist who played at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony
14 September, 2016
Georgian pianist who played at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony
Temur Akhobadze, a Georgian pianist who lived in America, is less known in his homeland. This Lincoln Center College professor and a Steinway performer had an honor to play Liszt’s 6th Rhapsody at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony in 2009. Unfortunately, Mr. Akhobadze died unexpectedly last year. We talked to his sister, Manana Kipshidze.

- Barack Obama’s inaugural event was held in New York, at the United Nations headquarters. It was a closed concert attended by presidents, Prime Ministers and Diplomats from
various countries. Besides, well-known musicians from all over the world were invited and among them was Van Cliburn, who is very well known here in Georgia. Temur told us later that the security was very strict. He was followed by guards everywhere and when he finished playing, he was only able to say a few words to Van Cliburn and then he was accompanied to a limousine and driven home.

- How was he invited on such an important event?

- A year before that, series of concerts called ‘Musical Marathon’ were held in New York. The shows took place at various halls of Manhattan and many musicians from USA and the world participated in them. Temur performed Arabesques by Schumann, A Boat on the Ocean by Ravel and Liszt’s Sixth Rhapsody. So, when Barak Obama’s inaugural event was planned, Temur was asked to perform Liszt.

- Temur was somehow at odds with the press…

- He did not like to talk about himself. He was invited to the Florida Pianists’ Competition seven times in a row. This happens very rarely. He lived in America for 22 years but never ceased contact with his homeland. For the last 15 years he was coming home twice a year and participated in different competitions, held master classes. During those awful 1990s, the pianos in conservatory were in a very bad condition and he helped them as he could. He brought keys, strings etc. It was not very cheap for him.

- His Parisian wife loves Georgia as well…

- Marie is a wonderful woman. Yes, she is very fond of Georgia and she was devastated by Temur’s death. She says she will always come back to Georgia. Temur’s daughter from his first marriage, Natalie, now lives in America. She and her Georgian husband have a daughter as well, Helen, who is 17 years old. We buried Temur here, in Georgia and a month after the funeral we opened a memorial plaque on his house. Now we would like to set up a foundation and help the emerging pianists.

By Manana Gabrichidze

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