Yuri Liberzon: Masterful guitar technique, richly emotive sound

Photo by Teresa Tam

A sheer love of playing the guitar led Yuri Liberzon to become a professional musician. “It is directly connected with who I am,” he says.

Originally from Novosibirsk, Russia’s third largest city, Liberzon received both his first guitar and his first computer at age six. Initially, he laughs, learning computers held more of an interest for him. He studied guitar while at the same time learning about computers on his own, inspired by his father, an electronics engineer, and attending a science- and technology-focused high school in Tel Aviv, Israel where he and his family moved when he was ten years old. Eventually, Liberzon switched to a different high school where he could spend most of his time in the music department. Although he maintains a strong interest in technology and is fearless when it comes to taking apart and working on computers, guitar eventually emerged as his primary passion.

In Israel, Liberzon studied with guitarist Yaron Hasson, who he describes as “very spiritual” and the person who taught him about the transcendental aspect of music. Liberzon eventually “fell in love” with the playing of renowned guitarist Manuel Barrueco and moved to the United States to study with him at the John Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute. He was then awarded a full scholarship to Yale University where he went on to earn a master’s degree in music.

Moving to California a little over a year ago, Liberzon now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area where he performs widely and teaches at his newly opened studio in Mountain View. His love of guitar connects his musical experiences in the three countries where he has lived. Liberzon’s experience in each place has influenced his playing to a degree and has made him an overall stronger individual. His musical interests and repertoire are very broad, spanning many genres, countries, and cultures. Citing the Beatles as one of his earliest musical influences, Liberzon’s large repertoire includes an array of works, ranging from “Michelle,” one of his favorite pieces by the Beatles, to the Adagio movement from composer Joqauin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. “If music is great, it is great—you cannot argue with it,” he says, “I find the best of what connects with me.”

Photo by Arek Barbecki

Whether playing for a concert-hall audience or a small gathering, Liberzon combines masterful guitar technique with richly emotive sound. He is noted for his ability to connect with his audiences, which he credits as simply being himself while performing. Liberzon describes the necessity of mastering technique in order to be able to tap into deeper levels of musical expressivity, particularly in classical music where technique is a major element. Technique also helps with organizing the emotions being expressed through the music. At the same time, Liberzon warns against focusing purely on technique. “You start neglecting your actual expression,” he suggests, “So it is important when you are working on your technical ability to focus on why you are doing it.” He also points to the need for a certain degree of spontaneity in music, saying, “It will not be music anymore in a way [if there is no spontaneity at all]. It will be perfect. The beauty of music is not that it is perfect . . . It changes. Every time you play it is a bit different. I think that is actually what makes music more interesting.”

As Liberzon continues to settle into life in California, this talented young guitarist looks forward to connecting and performing with more orchestras, and to beginning to record favorite pieces from his vast repertoire.

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