Before she knew she was Ukrainian, 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.
Inna Faliks is an internationally acclaimed classical concert pianist and is Head of Piano and Professor of Piano at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. After her acclaimed debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age fifteen, she has performed on many of the world’s great stages with numerous orchestras and in solo appearances. Her discography includes “Sound of Verse: Music of Boris Pasternak, Ravel, and Rachmaninoff” and “Polonaise-Fantasie, Story of a Pianist” (which includes spoken passages that inspired this book). Falik’s distinguished career has taken her to numerous recitals and concerti in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Ravinia Festival, and the Shanghai Oriental Theater. She is frequently invited to guest artist residencies at leading conservatories, universities, and festivals.
“Of course this is the story of piano virtuoso Inna Faliks from her beginnings as a ‘wunderkind’ in poverty-stricken Odessa, Ukraine, played out over her musical and romantic adventures throughout Europe, the United States, China, and even Russia. But it is much more than that. It is Inna’s Eroica: a mirror to Beethoven’s towering heroic variations for piano with all its shifts, emotions, and surprises that play a recurring role throughout this endearingly engaging book. As Inna navigates her way through a moving and well-crafted coming-of-age story about a young person determined to unleash everything within her, she is a storytelling Beethoven, communicating via the language that binds us all: music."—Hershey Felder, pianist
“Inna Faliks’s memoir is a rare and colorful window into the fraught process through which a young, vulnerable talent becomes a virtuoso. Filled with insights and adventures, her recollections—from tentative beginnings in Odessa to eye-opening explorations at cultural centers around the world—reveal the challenges of coming of age in the pressurized atmosphere of an emerging artist. Along the way she allows us to peer into the secrets behind the forging of beautiful sounds. Weight in the Fingertips explores the thrills, dangers, frustrations and triumphs of a life in music.”—Stuart Isacoff, author of Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization
"Inna Faliks's playing long ago convinced me she had universes inside her. Now, in this memoir, we are shown the thousand rooms of a house spread across years and continents, in a style swift, considered & conspiratorial. One wants to remember one's own life this way.”—Jesse Ball, author of Autoportrait and winner of the Plimpton Award and the Guggenheim Fellowship
"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
"This is a gorgeously written memoir from an absolutely original voice that braids the book's concerns—music, pride in a difficult identity, immigration, belonging—into a spellbinding vision of the transcendent saving power of art."—Boris Fishman, author of Don't Let My Baby Do Rodeo and A Replacement Life
"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, American music critic and co-author of My Nine Lives, the autobiography on Leon Fleisher
"Inna Faliks travels the world and becomes a musician of poetry and power. What an inspiring book—and life."—Tim Page, Pulitzer Prize for Criticism
"A gripping tour-de-force packed with adventure, challenge, survival, heartbreak, love, and above all, the power of music. Inna Faliks is a storyteller to the manner born, who is not afraid of honesty and emotion, yet avoids any trace of self-indulgence. Her generous spirit, her sense of humor and gift for narrative pacing make it difficult to put this book down for a second. In short, here is a great musician and pianist who proves time and again to be equally articulate and communicative away from the keyboard."—Jed Distler, composer/pianist, radio host, reviewer for Classicstoday.com and Gramophone