Musicians of Ukrainian orchestra mourn their pianist, killed in the battle for Mariupol

13 April 2022, 17:25 | Updated: 13 April 2022, 23:43

Nikolay Zvyagintsev was the orchestral pianist for the Donetsk Philharmonic
Nikolay Zvyagintsev was the orchestral pianist for the Donetsk Philharmonic. Picture: Getty

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Nikolai Igorevich Zvyagintsev has been described by his colleagues as “a great musician and a wonderful person.”

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The orchestral pianist for the Donetsk Philharmonic has been killed in the battle for Mariupol in Ukraine.

The 39-year-old Ukrainian musician, Nikolai Igorevich Zvyagintsev, was an “infinitely talented” classical and jazz pianist.

Zvyagintsev was the leader of his own band, an artist of the Philharmonic Orchestra, part of the Septet Jazz ensemble, a participant and laureate of numerous jazz competitions and festivals, and the author of multiple pop and jazz compositions and transcriptions.

In a Facebook post, the artistic director of the Donetsk Philharmonic, Alexander Paretsky described the “unbearable pain” he felt after hearing the news of Zvyagintsev’s death.

“It is impossible to believe that I will no longer meet Nikolay, rushing to rehearsal,” he said. “I will no longer see him sitting behind the piano in the left part of the Philharmonic stage, I will not hear virtuoso passages extracted by his hands...”

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Этот день для Донецкой филармонии - день скорби. Наш коллектив потерял великолепного музыканта и прекрасного человека...

Posted by Донецкая государственная академическая филармония on Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Paretsky continued, “The death of Nikolai is a particularly heavy loss for his relatives: for his father – Igor Nikolaevich, also a musician, who served for many years in the Donetsk Philharmonic; for his mother – Alla Fyodorovna, who did not expect a soul in her beloved son...

“Nikolai left his beloved wife Svetlana and daughter Lada, who just recently turned one year old. The whole team of the Donetsk Philharmonic is deeply saddened. I express my condolences to the family and friends of Nikolai, friends and colleagues, his numerous fans.”

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Donetsk is an industrial city in eastern Ukraine, 70 miles north of the port city of Mariupol. Since April 2014, both Donetsk and Mariupol have been major areas for fighting in the ongoing Donbas war.

Journalists have suggested that Mariupol will likely fall to Russia in the next few hours, as Russia’s defence ministry has reported that the remaining Ukrainian troops in the port city have surrendered.

According to the mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, over 21,000 of Mariupol’s citizens have been killed – which would equal about 4.7 percent of the population. 100,000 more are awaiting evacuation.

In an official statement on its website, the Donetsk Philharmonic shared that Zvyagintsev joined the battle for Mariupol “to protect his native land”.

“The life of our friend was tragically cut short at the age of 39 during the liberation of Mariupol.”

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The orchestra continued, “Donbass has lost a great musician. This irreparable loss will always resonate with deep pain in our hearts.

“Music lived in him and the light of true destiny burned. Eternal memory to our hero!”

A civil ceremony to remember Zvyagintsev took place this morning in the Cathedral of St. Peter and Fevronia in Donetsk, Ukraine