German Tchernoivanov was born in 1926 in Russia during a most difficult period in the history of the world. It was a time when Joseph Stalin made himself the unchallenged ruler of the Communist Party.
As a youngster growing up in Russia, German wanted to become a future student of the law. But World War II began in 1939, and in June, 1941, Russia was attacked by Germany. German dropped out of law school and became a fighter pilot for the Soviet Air Force as a teenager.
Following the war and lucky to be alive, German began studying piano at 25 and eventually became a professor of music at the Moscow Conservatory of Music. He regularly taught Western values to his students. This aroused the suspicion of the KGB, which started to keep track of German and his "subversive" activities.
He was arrested and convicted on charges of showing Western movies such as "The Godfather," considered pornographic by Soviet officials, and eventually sentenced to three years in a prison camp in Siberia.
A year after his release from prison, German applied to immigrate to the United States. After his arrival in this country, unable to speak English and weighing only 95 pounds, German held down five menial jobs, including cleaning toilets.
One day, German was asked if he could play the piano. His answer, of course, was "Yes," and that was the beginning of doing what he always had enjoyed. He played the piano for tips and after awhile, he was able to buy a piano. That was the turning point in his American profession as a pianist.
German began teaching a young woman to play the piano and within one year, she became his wife and manager. He composed a song in her name which he called "Waltz Terri." Later, he wrote another song dedicated to the land of the free which he called "Joy of Life."
Today, German is a very proud American citizen. If you ask him how he likes living in America, he will go to his piano and play "America The Beautiful." He is also a very talented accordionist and is an active member of the Arizona Accordion Club.