The Heroine’s Journey of Svetlana Belsky

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

Great music, like great art, occupies a special place in the universe. It brings us closer to the ideal of beauty and transcendence. I think the great composers whose music I love so much, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, many more, through the power of their genius, had touched the divine, the universal, that quality that makes us fully human. We, the performers and the teachers, come as close as ordinary people can to that ideal of beauty and wisdom by dedicating ourselves to understanding the composers’ beautiful minds. And so we serve as conduits of that magic to our audiences. This is a noble pursuit, worth all the sacrifices the life of a musician entails

 What is my idea of happiness?

I am happiest when I feel a connection with people, nature and art around me. The moments I remember perfect joy are walking in to a gothic cathedral and hearing the sounds of an organ, being lost in a perfect park, seeing a student’s eyes light up in sudden understanding, my family enjoying s special dinner, my husband’s laughter. 

 What is my greatest fear?

 I think I share that with every mother in the world — our children make us hostages to fate. There is not a moment since we first hold our babies in our arms that we do not silently pray for their health and happiness 

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

 Because I value peace and deplore confrontation, I often allow not only the needs, but also the wants of others to take precedence over my needs. In other words, I can’t say no. 

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?

My fellow piano teachers, who, after hours of trying to share the gift of music with students who might be uninterested, resisting, lazy, or indifferent, are still finding the strength to smile, to encourage and to inspire 

 What is my greatest extravagance?

 I am hardly an extravagant person. I enjoy the sybaritic side of life and might splurge on a fine restaurant, but otherwise, things don’t give me pleasure 

On what occasion would I lie?

 “What a lovely dress”, “nobody noticed when you got lost”, “I am sure you will dance divinely after your 6- week Tango course”

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

The hours, the pay (what pay?!?), the assumption that this is a hobby

 When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

 I truly love chamber music, so my happiest hours are rehearsing and performing with other wonderful musicians 

If I could, what would I change about myself?

 I would love to me more assertive, more disciplined, and have a thicker skin

What is my greatest achievement in work?

I think my work in promoting the legacy of Ferruccio Busoni is my greatest contribution to the world of classical music. I hope that my book, my CDs, my lectures and my performances have helped convince more musicians and music lovers to enjoy and learn from his extraordinary music and writings

 Where would I most like to live?

 As I write this, it is winter in Chicago, so — anywhere else!  But really, home is where my family, friends, students and pianos are located 

What is my most treasured possession?

 I treasure memories, experiences, and relationships, not things

What is my most marked characteristic?


What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

 My studio in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building. Not only am I surrounded by gorgeous architecture in this historical space, but also the sounds of lessons and people practicing. And of course, this is where I see my students grow, learn, and become life-long music lovers

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city?

Chicago is a foodie town, with something for every taste and every mood, so picking a favorite is impossible!

What books influenced my life and how?

 I am a fairly omnivorous reader, but my favorites have always been science fiction and history. I think these genres allow me to become, for a bit, a completely different person leading a completely different life

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

 The Bach B minor mass. There is nothing greater 

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

 Jane Austin’s Emma. 

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

 I am watching the horrible scenes of destruction in Turkey and Ukraine. Incredibly brave and selfless people are crawling over the ruins pulling out survivors. What can possibly be more heroic!

What role play stories in my life and work?

 Music transcends stories, but is also inspired by them. The story of the composer, and of the piece which I am studying enriched my understanding, gives me a more profound rapport with the music

What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ to me?

 The universe places us and directs our lives quite outside of our control in the really big things — life, death, health, luck. But how we react to these, what and how we choose to love — that is up to us. 

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

Nothing I do would be possible without the long-suffering support of my husband 

What project, in 2023, am I looking forward to work on?

 With my piano duo, EStrella, I am performing and trying to popularize the music and the culture of Ukraine. Another project of ours is “In Her Own Voice”, our newest CD of the works of female composers of the Romantic Era

Where can you see me or my work in 2023?

Concerts and Events



What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

 I don’t know any musicians who long for the day they can stop making music. What is the point of living then? We might be limited by health or circumstances, but we never stop being musicians 

Which creative professionals should Peter invite to tell their story?

 Elena Doubovitskaya (my piano duo partner) <>

Susan Merdinger

How can you contact me?

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