Where Are They Now?

Young man plays piano

Viktor Valkov

Viktor Valkov was Young Texas Artists’ 2011 Gold Medalist in Piano. He recently shared an update on his career with us.

It’s been 13 years since you won our Gold Medal in Piano. What have you been up to since then?
Well, I finished my doctorate at Rice University in 2017. In 2011, I was in my first year at Rice. In the meantime, I won the New Orleans International Piano Competition in 2012 and the Astral Artists competition in Philadelphia in 2015. Since 2017, I’ve been an assistant professor of piano at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

What have been some of the more memorable moments of your
music career so far? Why were they meaningful to you?
There have been many of those. One of the most meaningful experiences
was a recent collaboration with a composer that I did in the last two or
three years. He was writing pieces for me, and I was recording them. That culminated in an album for Albany Records (“The Valkov-Dahn Project:
Piano Works by Luke Dahn),” which came out last summer. The composer, Luke Dahn, is a native of Texas, actually, but I met him here at the University of Utah. And that has been a great experience for me.

What are your goals from here?
I always have projects that have to do with my personal solo repertoire. I’m working on two recital programs at the moment, one of which is very unorthodox, and one might even say strange. The other one’s a very standard program with Bach, Schumann, Liszt, and so on. That’s one thing that occupies me right now.

I’ve also been doing a lot of recordings in the last few years, especially
since COVID started because concerts were a little bit scarce. I think now I’m going to focus more on performing chamber music and solo piano

Please tell us what you enjoy doing for fun or to relax. Do you have any hobbies?
I play a lot of chess in my spare time. And a few months ago, I started playing a lot of table tennis. I even took lessons. It’s a great way to work out for me. When you’re a musician and you have to take care of your hands, it’s hard to find a physical sport that is not dangerous. Table tennis turned out to be one of those. It really is a very technical game. It requires a lot of thinking and quick reactions.

Please tell us about your musical tastes. Have they changed over the years? How?
I guess they opened up more. When I was younger, there were certain composers, styles of music that I wasn’t too fond of. They sounded a little too foreign to me. As the years went by, I became a lot more open to music and curious. Now I teach a piano literature class, and I try to tell the students that even when there are things you don’t like at a certain age, maybe you will get to like them later in life. So, the answer to your question is I broadened my horizons and the things that I like over the years.

What advice would you offer young artists who are just starting their music careers?

One thing I can say that stems from my own experiences is to make sure that you’re doing something you really like. There is no substitute for this in life. Right now, I have a job at the university, I teach piano. and I don’t feel like I go to work. I feel like I do what I would have done anyway. This is the most important thing for anybody: make sure that what you’re doing is what you want to do.

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