Famous Chess Champions with Musical Inclination

Both chess and musical education were held in high esteem in certain bourgeois-intellectual circles, which is why parents today introduce their children to music and online chess lessons for beginners. Accordingly, many strong chess players came from families in which music was cultivated as a hobby or even as a profession.

Chess Champions Also Known For Their Musical Inclination

Here are known chess champions who were known to have the musical inclination.

Wladimir Kramnik

Wladimir Kramnik is just one name that springs to mind for chess fans in the context of music. The ex-world champion’s mother is a music teacher and was part of an intellectual family of artists: his father is a painter and sculptor. Their parental home in Tuapse has shaped Kramnik up to the present day.

“Most of my friends are athletes or musicians,” emphasizes Kramnik. “I prefer the ones I can’t talk to about chess. But I’ve found that almost all musicians also play chess – there’s obviously a connection.”

Levon Aronian

“I gave up music for chess,” said Armenian Levon Aronian. “I studied piano and chess when I was a child, but the commute involved me having to make a choice. So I only studied music for a year, although it was still the love of my life.” Aronian is also considered an artistic virtuoso on the chessboard, the World Championship candidate combines innovative ideas with precise technique.

Lajos Portisch

At the World Championship match between Karpov and Kasparov in Seville in 1987, Karpov’s second, the Hungarian grandmaster and excellent singer Lajos Portisch, telephoned a draw offer in the hanging game. So far so good – but how could the other side be absolutely sure that Portish really was Portish? And so he was asked to sing one of his favorite arias over the phone. Portisch did so, so the offer of a draw could safely be passed on to Kasparov – this time without singing.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen may have been happier with the 2013 world title. The former child prodigy is called “Mozart of chess” – after the classical composer because of his love for music and his excellence in chess. Carlsen’s predecessor Mikhail Tal once said that the great chess talents of his time did not resemble classical composers but rather more modern composers like Prokofiev or Shostakovich.

Mark Taimanow

Concert pianist Taimanov was already a child star at the age of eleven in the film “The Beethoven Concerto”, over the years he has given over 1,000 piano concerts worldwide. He was noted with his comment – “When I played chess, it was a vacation from music. When I played music, it was a vacation from chess. So my whole life was a single vacation time.”

Vassily Smyslov

Former world champion Smyslov was a trained opera singer. As a lyric baritone, he had records and CDs of operatic arias and classical romances in Russia. He gave concerts until he was 80. Smyslov’s mother was also a music teacher and had decisively influenced him in this direction as a child. “My chess studies were always accompanied by a love of music. For this reason, I have always understood chess as art – in addition to the parts of science and sport,” said Smyslov once. “I don’t think music has influenced my chess style, but I do believe that my devotion to music and chess are closely related.”

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