Emil Gilels performs Robert Schumann's Symphonic Etudes, op. 13. Emil Grigoryevich Gilels (October 19, 1916 – October 14, 1985) was a Soviet pianist, widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. His last name is sometimes transliterated Hilels.
Gilels was born in Odessa, Russian Empire (now part of Ukraine) to a Jewish family with no direct musical background that nevertheless owned a piano. He began studying the piano at the age of five under Yakov Tkach, who was a student of the French pianists Raoul Pugno and Alexander Villoing. Thus, through Tkach, Gilels had a pedagogical genealogy stretching back to Frédéric Chopin, via Pugno, and to Muzio Clementi, via Villoing. Tkach was a stern disciplinarian who emphasized scales and studies. Gilels later credited this strict training for establishing the foundation of his technique.
Tkach was petty, abusive and tyrannical. But he produced results in his students.