Arthur Hartman: A Legacy of Cultural Diplomacy

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Hartman was a master practitioner of cultural diplomacy in a period when the US State Department had largely abandoned culture as a diplomatic tool.Arthur Hartman (1927-2015) was an American career diplomat who served as Ambassador to France under President Jimmy Carter and Ambassador to the Soviet Union under President Ronald Reagan.

Behind the scenes, Hartman played a key role when Vladimir Horowitz returned to his Russian homeland in 1986 as President Reagan’s “Ambassador of Peace.” This occurred at a moment of chilly US-USSR relations, due to events in Libya. Though Horowitz’s historic Moscow recital was televised internationally, it was initially downplayed in Russia. Then the Russians changed their mind and Horowitz appeared on Soviet television with enormous impact. In fact, there can be no doubt that Horowitz’s visit, for which he received the US Medal of Freedom, contributed to glasnost.

Some years earlier, when Vladimir Feltsman — a “refusenik” — was denied permission to perform, Arthur Hartman invited him to perform at the US Embassy. With Hartman’s assistance, Feltsman emigrated in 1987 and resettled in the US.

In an obituary, The New York Times wrote: “In Moscow, the Hartmans transformed the ambassador’s residence, Spaso House, into a gathering place for intellectuals, dissidents and artists.” Vladimir and Wanda Horowitz stayed with the Hartmans at Spaso House while in Moscow.

The PCE Gala will comprise a half-hour recital by Mr. Feltsman, followed by a dinner. Mr. Feltsman and Ambassador Robert Gelbard, among others, will have occasion to remember Arthur Hartman.

We believe that Ambassador Hartman’s conviction that culture can promote peace among nations has never been more pertinent than today.

Source: Boris Yurchenko/Associated Press


PostClassical Ensemble is devoting two seasons to marking the Centenary of the Russian Revolution. The participants include pianists Vladimir Feltsman and Alexander Toradze, and the conductor Valery Gergiev.

A major focus will be the “experimental” music and art of the 1920s. The classic Soviet silent film “The New Babylon” (1929) will be screened with Shostakovich’s score performed live. The bold compositions of Roslavetz, Mossolov, and Protopopov, today forgotten even in Russia, will be highlighted.

In fact, decades of Soviet musical life were largely concealed from the west. Feltsman writes: “The artists who lived and worked in Russia during the twentieth century produced an amazing body of work. This legacy is precious, authentic, and meaningful. The art that was created there was not meant to entertain or amuse, but to turn our attention to the basic conditions of life, to what is really important, and to ask hard questions that can be answered only by ourselves.”

PCE will also host an important contemporary Russian composer as yet little known in the US: Victor Kissine, whose “Between the Waves” for piano and string orchestra will receive its American premiere.

The close relationship of Shostakovich and the Jewish refugee composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg will be another major theme.

The events of the festival will include many novel features – including (at “The Shostakovich-Weinberg Connection” March 25 at the Harman Center) the prominent DC actor Edward Gero playing Shostakovich as part of a “theatrical interlude” incorporating film and music. (Mr Gero will be attending both the March 15 Gala and Alexander Toradze’s private recital on March 10.)

The institutions participating in the PCE festival include the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Washington Performing Arts, the National Gallery of Art Film Division, the Jewish Community Center of DC, the Harman Center for the Arts, and American University’s Russian Cultural initiative.

Individual participants, in addition to Feltsman, Toradze, and Gergiev, will include pianist Alexander Shtarkman, the cellist Benjamin Capps, violinist Netanel Draiblate, trumpet soloist Chris Gekker, Jewish music scholar James Loeffler, and Peter Rollberg, a specialist in Russian film.

For more information about table sponsorship at the March 15 Gala: Music For Mutual Understanding with Vladimir Feltsman or PCE’s multi-year Russian Festival, please contact Matthew Gardner: 412.680.9228 or