New Album: Manuscripts Don’t Burn

My new CD, Manuscripts Don’t Burn, is coming out on Sono Luminus this spring 2024! It is my most personal CD yet, with premieres written for me in celebration of my my favorite book, the Master and Margarita, my Ukrainian-Jewish heritage, my poetry-music series Music/Words, my home town of Odesa, and my newly published memoir, Weight in the Fingertips, A Musical Odyssey from Soviet Ukraine to the World Stage, Music of Schubert-Liszt and Fanny Mendelssohn is also featured.

Manuscripts Don’t Burn is a famous line in Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita – the retelling of Faust, the 20th century cult novel of an artist surviving in a Totalitarian regime, the love story, the burlesque with giant, vodka drinking cats and vampiric theater administrators.

I first read the book as a kid, growing up in Soviet Odesa. I took it with me when my parents and I immigrated, as Jewish refugees running from antisemitism, through Austria and Italy, to the United States.  Crossing the border, I worried that guards would discover my book, and I would be severely punished. Throughout the years, the book played a role in my life. My childhood best friend from Odesa reread the book in adulthood and decided to find me – we are now together for 20 years, with two kids.  I read the book to my mother as she was dying from brain cancer.

Bulgakov’s novel weaves through my own newly published memoir, Weight in the Fingertips – A Musical Odyssey from Soviet Ukraine to the World Stage (Backbeat Books, October 2023). I consider this very personal recording to be something of a mirror image to my memoir, as it intertwines the literal images from Master and Margarita with more autobiographical themes and layers.

The five premieres, written for me and recorded here, are vastly different in styles and esthetic. The understated, elegant Master and Margarita Suite by Veronika Krausas complements the wild, theatrical, brooding and extended techniques-filled “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” by Maya Miro Johnson.  Mike Garson’s Psalm to Odesa, an improvisatory ballad, with bits of my own improvisation based a well known Odesan song, sets off “Voices” by Ljova, a piece for piano and historical recordings of Jewish cantorial and klezmer music. Both take me back to my home city, currently under vicious attack, like the rest of Ukraine. The poetry I recite, sing and hum while performing the four-movement Godai – the Four Elements – is rounded off by the propulsive bravura whirlwind of Hero.  Fasil Say’s Black Earth takes the listener on a journey from Odesa across the Black Sea – a Turkish ballad and jazzy beats alternates with improvisatory melisma of a Turkish lute, played on muted strings of the piano. The rarely heard Notturno of Fanny Mendelssohn connects a gifted female voice to the others on this disc, as well as, perhaps, to the dark, impassioned character of Margarita. In Master and Margarita,  “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” is spoken by Satan when he retrieves the manuscript of a novel presumed burnt – and in Clarice Assad’s “Godai”, Steve Schroeder’s poem depicts the loss of a manuscript in a fire.

The lieder of Schubert, transcribed for solo piano by Liszt, riffs on the mythical and the Faustian lore found also in Master and Margarita: Gretchen (Margarita) at the spinning wheel, a mystical love story by the sea, a monstrous Elf King and the death of a child, of innocence, of joy – one’s worst fear.

This collection of music speaks to my love of dialogue between music and words. As in my Music/Words series, where I pair poets with musical programs in the form of a recital/reading, the connections between text and sound here are not just literal but emotional, based on memory, intuition, dreams and hopes.

OUT NOW….”Weight in the Fingertips”

Available now, and on summer’s Amazon best-seller pre-release list in classical releases, “Weight in the Fingertips”, published by Globe Pequot (Backbeat Press) is Inna’s long-awaited memoir of her adventures in music.

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“Inna Faliks’s words have the same fluidity and assurance as her piano playing; both are well worth your attention. There are a lot of musician’s memoirs out there; this one, about a piano prodigy turned professional, is a standout. Highly recommended.”
— Anne Midgette

“In her autobiography Weight in the Fingertips, Inna Faliks gives a very personal account of her life, full of vivid, colorful details and written in a very beautiful, rich language. An interesting, informative, and enjoyable reading.”
— Evgeny Kissin, concert pianist and composer

“The story of Inna Faliks’s life is not your everyday book of a great musician’s beginnings. Like life, it is filled with the unexpected, moving from horror to hilarity, despair to hope. I just kept laughing and crying. It is unforgettable and paints a profound portrait of life; what is lost and what is found.”
— Stephen Tobolowsky, actor and author of The Dangerous Animals Club

“A moving, exciting artistic journey by an important female voice, told with honesty and immediacy. I couldn’t put it down— life’s twists can certainly be more surprising than fiction.”
— Jane Seymour, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress

Before she knew she was Ukranian, Soviet, or Jewish, Inna Faliks knew she was a musician. Growing up in the city of Odessa, the piano became her best friend, and she explored the brilliant, intricate puzzles of Bach’s music and learned to compose under her mother’s watchful eye. At ten, Faliks and her parents moved to Chicago as part of the tide of Jewish refugees who fled the USSR for the West in the 1980s. During the months-long immigration process, she would silently practice on kitchen tables while imagining a full set of piano keys beneath her fingertips. In Weight in the Fingertips, Faliks gives a globe-trotting account of her upbringing as a child prodigy in a Soviet state, the perils of immigration, the struggle of assimilating as an American, years of training with teachers, and her slow and steady rise in the world of classical music. With a warm and playful style, she helps non-musicians understand the experience of becoming a world-renowned concert pianist. The places she grew up, the books she read, the poems she memorized as a child all connect to her sound at the piano, and the way she hears and shapes a musical phrase illuminate classical music and elite performance. She also explores how a person’s humanity makes their art honest and their voice unique, and how the life-long challenge of retaining that voice is fueled by a balance between being a great musician and being a human being. Throughout, Faliks provides powerful insights into the role of music in a world of conflict, change, and hope for a better tomorrow.

Spring News

• Inna Faliks’ book, the musical memoir Weight in the Fingertips, will be published in 2023 by Globe Pequot.

• Inna was recently profiled in a Cleveland Classical feature by Jarrett Hoffman titled “The Story of a Pianist” —Ukrainian-born Inna Faliks on her monologue-recital & her home country”.  You can read the article by clicking here.

• More performances on the horizon! Be sure to check the calendar for upcoming dates.

January Radio spots

• On Sunday, January 16 at 8 pm EST, Inna Falik’s performance of Pursuit by Billy Childs will be featured on Modern Notebook on WSMR-FM. Tune in online here.

• Jed Distler devoted an hour-long episode of his award-winning radio program, Between the Keys to Inna Faliks, including an in-depth interview. The program aired on WWFM radio on January 11 and 12, and is available on demand at this link.

• Also on WWFM, Inna Faliks’s extensive, two-part interview with WWFM’s Cadenza host David Osenberg is available on-demand. Listen to Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The Schumann Project is Record of the Week on the CBC!

So honored to have my album The Schumann Project, Volume 1 as “Record of the Week” on CBC’s In Concert with Paolo Pietropaolo! The program airs noon ET on Sunday, November 7th, and you can listen at the CBC website.

The CBC’s website describes Pietropaolo’s program as: “The ‘best of the best’ live classical music — that’s the heart and soul of In Concert. Gorgeous chamber works, the world’s finest orchestras, and intimate recitals featuring some of Canada’s best young musicians on the brink of stardom. You’ll hear a carefully curated blend of classical hits along with new brand new discoveries presented with passion and rare insight by Paolo Pietropaolo.”

Thank-you again, Paolo, for your kind appraisal!

For an archive of the episode’s playlist, click here.

New Album: Reimagine Beethoven and Ravel

Inna Faliks breaks new ground with REIMAGINE: BEETHOVEN & RAVEL – 9 WORLD PREMIERES released June 11, 2021 on Navona Records, an homage to Beethoven and Ravel which manages to do the impossible: be breathtakingly innovative while remaining respectful to the source material.

Nine contemporary composers, including Richard Danielpour, Paola Prestini, Billy Childs, and Timo Andres, were commissioned to craft responses to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Bagatelles, op. 126 (incidentally, the master’s favorite) as well as Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. The results are exhilarating, not least owing to Faliks’s stunningly precise and sensitive pianistic interpretation: the Ukrainian-born American pianist ties together Classical, Romantic and modern pieces with disarming nonchalance and rock-solid technical skill. Defying the challenge of uniting three centuries of musical styles and social commentary, as well as producing an album during a global pandemic with the help of Yamaha’s Disklavier technology, REIMAGINE proudly raises a monument not only to the genius of Beethoven and Ravel, but also to the perseverance and verve of some of today’s most exciting and important composers. Billy Childs’ track, “Pursuit”, was be released as a single on May 28th.

Purchase or stream now on all platforms.

  1. La Campanella, Paganini - Liszt Inna Faliks 4:53
  2. Rzewski "The People United Shall Never Be Defeated" (excerpt, improvised cadenza) Inna Faliks 8:36
  3. Beethoven Eroica Variations Inna Faliks 9:59
  4. Gershwin: Prelude 3 in E-flat Minor Inna Faliks 1:25
  5. Mozart Piano Concerto #20 - II Inna Faliks with Chamber Orchestra of St. Matthews 10:27
  6. Gaspard de la Nuit (1908) : Scarbo - Ravel Inna Faliks 9:07
  7. Sirota by Lev 'Ljova' Zhurbin Inna Faliks 7:45