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Fanfare Contributor Bio

Hana Gubenko

I was born in Moscow on a cold day in December 1990, into a family with a father who was a newspaper reporter and a theatre director, and my talented mother who is a poet and who studied writing. She used to take me along to the workshops and seminars at Gorky University for Russian and Western Literature.

It was Mallory, Yeats, Poe, and T. S. Eliot who fascinated me deeply as a little girl, and who motivated me to learn their poems by heart at the age of three, and to make my own translations. Dante gave me the idea of a connection between spirituality and the art of writing. The possibility and need for a theological basis in literature and ancient Greek plays, along with Shakespeare, motivated me to try to write a play at the age of seven, but I failed—terribly!

From the age of three I started to learn to play violin, taking up the piano at age eight. I went to the Central Music School to study music, and at the age of 12, after leaving Russia and moving to Germany, I made the decision to become a musician—a violist in particular. I started to make my own arrangements of different music written for other instruments and throughout several musical genres, from medieval chorales up to the music of the 20th century. It is very much the like translating pieces of literature from one language to another. I went to study musical performance in Vienna at the age of 14. I stopped writing essays for almost 20 years, and a part of me fell asleep. I became a violist, achieved success in concerts, and focused on the re-establishment of non-avant-garde contemporary classical music. All seemed fixed until the day when Covid made me ill. It gave me a chance to see that a day might come when I couldn’t perform properly any more, and even long before that happened, through the lockdowns, I didn’t have a viola (I had one on loan, but it was taken away by the instrument dealer). Suddenly, there was just a pen in my hands, which was pretty much my instrument in my childhood. Back then it was a beautiful golden Parker, which I earned from my parents, having made a nice translation of the French lyrics by Verlaine for their play, which they seemed to like. Unexpectedly, I was compelled to write a libretto within a day.

My sleepy writing had lost its skilled shape and I messed it up, but I was awake here, even if a bit a bit rusty! I wrote a play, Winter Journey, based on the song cycle by Schubert, where the main character runs a gallery in Kensington in the 1960s and is visited by illness and the hurdy-gurdy man. From that day on, I became a writing musician and sometimes a playing writer, despite my newly-established work as music editor at Fontayne Editions London. In the past three years, I have written three theatre plays, several articles and essays, along with the unexpected and very exciting opportunity and pleasure of writing for Fanfare magazine since May 2023. This is particularly interesting. I have been interviewed and reviewed as a musical artist more than once before; now, being on both sides makes this new chapter of my life very special and interesting.


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