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Russian violin prodigy fights against disease

Liza Rybentseva October 2, 1997
Web posted at: 4:20 p.m. EDT (2020 GMT)

From Correspondent Betsy Aaron

MOSCOW (CNN) -- Her instrument, factory-made, could hardly be called a violin, her teacher says. And yet, 11-year-old Liza Rybentseva is able to coax such sounds out of it -- clear, pure and true.

"She plays with her head and her heart. That's the best combination," said her teacher, Zoya Makhtina.

And although she is still young, she has the poise and composure of a concert performer. In fact, she recently displayed her talents on the stage of the Moscow Conservatory, in a concert called World Stars for Children.

Profits from the concert will go towards training for children like her who have musical talent, but suffer from handicaps or chronic illness.

Rybentseva performs

Liza was born with a chronic blood disorder called trapanea, which leaves her weak and breaks down her immune system. Her doctors say the disease is life-threatening.

Her father, Yury, teaches violin back in the Ukraine. Her mother teaches piano. Yury said by the time his daughter was 7, they discovered she had a perfect ear, perfect rhythm and good memory.

"She learned very quickly. I simply never had such a pupil in my class. Within a year she was already competing," he said.

With little money for doctors, but determination to keep her well and playing, her family moved to Moscow. There, she practices about five hours a day -- not that much, she says. When she plays, she doesn't ever think about being ill.

"When I grow up I want to be a teacher," she said. But those who have heard her play have bigger dreams for her.

"If Liza stays healthy, God help her to stay healthy, she has a great future," her teacher said. "She could be a great artist."

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