In April 1885 pianist Pavel Pabst left his home in Moscow for St. Petersburg to give the premiere of his first orchestral composition, a Piano Concerto. The conductor was the great Nicolai Rubinstein, who was Director of the Moscow Conservatory. Although Pabst had attainted the position of Professor of Piano at Moscow Conservatory, for the critics of St. Petersburg, his concerto was a new work, by an unknown composer and from the rival musical city of Moscow. The Concerto received a poor reception and when Pabst returned to Moscow for a second performance conducted by Alexander Siloti, worse was to come. The critics there branded the work “Not in the tradition of Russian composition” and called the last movement ‘frivolous’.
It was all too depressing for Pabst, still only 31 years old. He packed up the score of his first orchestral composition and sent it away to publishers in Leipzig. He chose to concentrate on his teaching and never composed for the orchestra again. His concerto was lost to the music world for over a century.
Pabst’s sole orchestral composition will now live on through the talent of two young musicians, both of whom also breathe the tradition of the great romantic music of the Russians. British conductor Marius Stravinsky and Greek concert pianist Panagiotis Trochopoulos are both graduates of the Moscow Conservatory.