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Mark Morris’s Guide to Twentieth Century Composers

Front Page

RUSSIAN REPUBLIC

and the former Soviet Union

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Preface

If this Guide had appeared in the 1970s, its entry on the U.S.S.R. would have looked very different. Firstly, the U.S.S.R. would have commanded a wider range of geography and musical cultures than that of the Russian Republic. Second, the type of composer promoted by the Soviets, and whose music was disseminated abroad, followed the particular precepts of Soviet music, with some notable exceptions whose range and quality of music was too great to be ignored. Consequently, it would have been necessary to devote considerable space to these composers as representative of Soviet musical thought.

The dissolution of the former U.S.S.R. thus poses problems for any survey of 20th-century composers. Some lesser composers have become of importance to the heritage of their new countries; these will be found under those countries, as will such younger composers as P ärt, whose focus is on his country of Estonia, not the former U.S.S.R. Those better-known composers who spent most or all of their working lives in the U.S.S.R., and were promoted internationally as Soviet composers, will be found below, as will older and younger composers who were or are Russian by birth. As for some of the less interesting Soviet composers promoted by the Soviets, it seems highly unlikely that anyone will celebrate their music again, for justifiable social and musical reasons. However, they may be of historical interest, and where appropriate they are surveyed in the introduction.

Introduction

By the turn of the century, Russian composition was divided into two major trends, representing differences of stylistic temperament and academic teaching rather than mutually exclusive outlooks. The first built on the achievement of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), especially in the more abstract forms of the symphony and the concerto, and was represented by Sergei Taneiev (also spelled Taneyev, 1856-1915), now best known for his four symphonies and the operatic trilogy Oresteia. The second followed the lead of the so-called `Five' (`Kutchka'): Mily Alexeievich Balakirev (1837-1910), Alexander Borodin (1833-1887), César Cui (1835-1918), Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908). These composers developed a nationalist school of rich, graphic tone-poems and operas celebrating specifically Russian subjects, and culminated in the brilliant, sumptuous and glittering orchestral magic of Rimsky-Korsakov, who was widely influential on the following generation as a teacher. In the same style were the richly orchestrated miniature tone-poems of Anatol Liadov (1855-1914).

This division was clear in the earlier works of the generation coming into maturity after the turn of the century. Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) and Nikolai Med tner (1880-1951) developed the tradition of Taneiev in piano works of Romantic lyricism and clarity within mostly abstract forms; in terms of the development of classical music, their idiom became increasingly anachronistic, but the sheer genius of Rachmaninov overcomes such limitations. In contrast, the early ballets of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), still his most popular works and long discussed in terms of their rhythmic and dissonant innovations, can now be seen as a clear development of the idiom of Rimsky-Korsakov. The twin poles of this musical life were highly organized, centred on the conservatories of Moscow and St.Petersburg respectively, and the tendency to academicism was exemplified in the figure of Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936), who was an important teacher but whose depth of inspiration in his own works never matched his facility. The maverick of this period was the mercurial figure of Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), who built on the pianistic tradition of Liszt, stretching chromatic harmonies to their breaking point, and plunging into huge visions of spirituality and mysticism in both orchestral and piano works. His harmonic innovations and the intensity of his personal vision suggested the possibility of alternatives to a younger generation of composers, but his influence was more through example than through specific musical styles, a position analogous to his French contemporary Sa tie. Of the other composers working in this period, Alexander Grechaninov (also spelled Gretchaninov, 1864-1956) produced in the Liturgica Domestica op.79 (1917) for two tenors, baritone, bass, chorus and chamber orchestra one of the finest of all Russian liturgical settings, strongly recommended to those who respond to Eastern European church musics. His secular music is extremely conservative, following in the tradition of Tchaikovsky; he moved to Paris in 1922, and to the U.S.A. in 1939.

As the 1917 Revolution completely destroyed the old cultural and social orders, a new generation of extraordinarily talented composers was emerging, who would form the backbone of 20th-century Russian music. There was Stravinsky himself, who moved to Switzerland in 1914, and whose series of abrupt stylistic changes, from the innovation of music theatre works in and immediately after the First World War, to the development of neo-classicism in the 1920s and 1930s, and the eventual adoption of 12-tone techniques in the 1950s, made him the dominant international composer of the middle of the century, scorned, derided and exiled by the Soviet authorities. The precocious Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) produced brilliant, savage, tumultuous and dissonant music only tenuously holding on to traditional harmonies before returning to the U.S.S.R. after a period of exile. He then developed a melodically distinctive lyrical style, especially in his ballets and symphonies, that was largely acceptable to the Soviet authorities and which includes some of the most joyous and descriptively memorable music of the century. The more dour Nikolai Miaskovsky (1881-1950) concentrated on the traditional forms of the symphony and the quartet. But, as is now becoming apparent, the finest composer of this generation was Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975). His life was almost a metaphor for the vicissitudes, the horrors and the triumphs of the Soviet Union itself; much of his music reflects the vacuous requirements of the Soviet authorities, and for long Western critics mistook such musical platitudes for the substance of his music. However, his major works (especially the symphonies and the string quartets) cover the widest expression of human emotions and the most complete fusion of the personal and the public since Beethoven. After his early experimental works, his essentially conservative idiom represents an unusual amalgamation of influences: the dark drive and classical formality of Hindemith, the eclecticism and large-scale of Mahler, and especially the spare, anguished and intense musical world of Mussorgsky, whose music Shostakovich knew in its original unadulterated form, rather than in the heavily Romanticised orchestrations by others that were universally played outside Russia. Shostakovich's influence has been considerable, if subtle: his melodic fingermarks and general sound pervade Russian music after 1945, and regularly appear in the music of other countries.

The period following the Bolshevik Revolution was one of fertile excitement and experimentation in all the arts, reflecting the new interest in industrialization and the search for expression of the primacy of the people, exemplified in the work of the poet Mayakovsky (not to be confused with Miaskovsky); the philosophical gulf between Scriabin's late theosophist visions of 1905-1910 and Prokofiev's Age of Steel ballet of 1925-1926 is vast. The major musical equivalent to Constructivism was the music of Alexander Mosolov (1900-1973). His Zavod (Iron Foundry), a short orchestral mechanical whirlwind drawn from the ballet St eel (1926-1928) became a cause-célèbre; much derided by critics, it remains the powerful epitome of motoric music. His Piano Concerto No.1 (1926-1927) is equally insistent and anti-Romantic, harsh dissonances held in the iron claw of motoric rhythms, brash, outrageous, and with an extraordinary polystylism in the near-atonal central movement; this outrageous work deserves revival, as it so encapsulates an aspect of its age.

Under the aegis of two major musical groups, the Russian Association of Proletarian Music and the Association for Contemporary Music, opera turned to an anti-Romantic, direct declamatory style, exemplified by The North Wind (1930) by Lev Knipper (1898-1974; see under `Georgia, Introduction'). Repertoire operas were rewritten with proletarian librettos, and such contemporary works as Be rg's Wozzeck were heard. At the same time the genre of the massed song was being developed by serious composers, leading to a genre of the large-scale patriotic oratorio, of which Knipper's Symphony No.4 `Poem about the Komsomol Fighter' (1934) is an historically interesting and occasionally effective early example, the essentially simple folk-material (including the famous song `Poliushko') being laid in a huge, epic-scale orchestral bed.

This experimental period in Soviet music came to an abrupt end with the rise of Stalin and the imposition of the official Soviet line of `Socialist Realism' in 1932. Applied to music, it meant a return to straightforward 19th-century tonal harmonies in bright orchestral colours; harmonic experimentation was denounced as `formalism'. Epic-scale symphonies, large oratorios, and operas with communist or patriotic subjects were the preferred forms, the required tone the joy or triumph of the Soviet system and the Soviet people, that had to overcome any tragic elements. This inevitably leaned towards programmatic rather than abstract music. Shostakovich was one of the first to fall foul of this Philistine aesthetic: his highly successful opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1934) was condemned for its psychological realism by Stalin in 1936, leading to the withdrawal of the Symphony No.4 (1936) and to his placatory (but musically sincere) response in the lyrical-epic Symphony No.5 (1937).

The leading composers of this period succumbed to this formula. Ivan Dzerzhinsky (1909-1978) combined a revolutionary story, Cossack folk-songs, and a direct and dramatic melodic idiom in the opera Qu iet Flows the Don (1935), based on the famous novel, ostensibly by Sholokhov (who apparently plagiarised the novel). Yuri Shaporin (1887-1966), whose early works had included such modernist pieces as the suite The Flea, the orchestration of which includes wind, sixteen domras, three bayans, flexaton and percussion, produced such works as the cantata Battle for the Russian Land (1944), an effective example of its patriotic genre, and the quintessential Soviet opera, The Decembrists (1925-1953).

The most convincing composer of a Socialist Realist style was Georgi Sviridov (born 1915), for its limitations suited his own temperament. His work, influenced by Kursk folk-songs, reflected another trend promoted by the Soviet authorities, the inclusion in classical music of the widely varying folk-musics of the different `autonomous Republics'. Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935) provided a model in his best known works, the two colourful, late Romantic suites of Caucasian Sketches (No.1, 1894, No.2, 1896). Uzeir Gadzhibekov (1885-1948) established an Azerbaijani nationalistic style, although the first Azerbaijani opera was by the Ukrainian ReinholdGlière (1875-1956), whose ballet The Red Poppy (1927) was the first Soviet ballet to present an heroic revolutionary theme, and who maintained official approval throughout his career. Their example was followed by Fikret Amirov (born 1922). Zakhary Paliashvili (1872-1933; see under `Georgia') pioneered the application of Georgian music to classical forms. Otar Taktakishvili (born 1924) has written Georgian operas and his Symphony No.2 (1953) was based on Georgian themes. The most notable of the Soviet composers who based much of their art on folk influences was Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978, see under `Armenia'), whose was at his best when incorporating Armenian colours and scales, and at his worst when attempting the full-blown Soviet epic. This nationalist trend continued throughout the Soviet period: the music of Daghestan was incorporated into the colourful suite from the ballet Gorianka (1968) by Murad Kazhlayev (born 1931).

The new generation of mainstream composers was represented by the lyrical neo-Romantic idiom of Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987), and by the unfortunate figure of Tikhon Khrennikov (born 1913), who as Secretary-General (1948) and Chairman (1949) of the U.S.S.R. Composers' Union until 1991 imposed the official line. His own music is unimaginative and undistinguished, although the song `We should be ploughing' from the opera The Storm (1939) is exceptionally beautiful in a simplistic fashion, and is worthy of exploration by male-voice choirs. His shallow Pia no Concerto No.2 (1974) opens with a 12-tone row, as if trying to emulate the coming freedoms, but quickly establishes the home key of C major. The four early symphonies (1928, 1929, 1934-1935, 1935) of Vissarion Shebalin (1902-1903) show his early influences (Borodin andMiaskovsky, his teacher, in the Symphony No.1), his interest in abstract structure (the passacaglia, fugue and coda in Symphony No.3) and his involvement in Soviet themes (the two-movement Symp hony No.4 is dedicated to the heroes of Perekop, the site of an heroic action in the civil war). This aspect of Shebalin's output is exemplified in the Dramatic Symphony `Lenin' (1931-1932) for soloists, chorus and orchestra, which is one of the first of the particularly Soviet genre of the 'song-symphony'. Planned originally as a much larger work, the text is a poem by Mayakovsky on the death of Lenin, but the first of three rather disconnected movements is purely instrumental, and much the most alluring in a work that is otherwise only of historical interest. However, most of his output avoided political or social themes, and besides some orchestral works, is dominated by the abstract form of the string quartet.

In 1948 a wave of repression was triggered by the gentle dissonances in the opera The Great Friendship (1947) by the otherwise innocuous Georgian composer Vano Muradeli (1908-1970). The attacks, led by Andrei Zhdanov, included condemnation of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Miaskovsky, and Knipper; Shebalin especially suffered, ironically after winning a State Prize in the same year - one of his denouncers was his pupil Khrennikov. The definition of formalism was widened, and it is an indication of the complete exclusion of Western musical trends since the 1930s that when Rodion Shc hedrin (born 1932) called for opportunities to hear Western contemporary music in a brave article in 1955, he was referring toMahler, Debu ssy and Ravel rather than Webern, Mess iaen or Boulez. The 1950s were perhaps the bleakest period of Soviet music. While Shostakovich managed to produce powerful works that responded to the darkness of the times, he also had to write the most Soviet of his symphonies, the programmatic eleventh and twelfth, and his Soviet Realist works of this period are his most banal. Shchedrin, the bright young light of Soviet music, was composing in an idiom that would have found a home fifty years earlier, relieved only by his perky humour. Mosolov, the epitome of the revolutionary 1920s, was reduced to writing pretty but vacuous suites and popular choruses on folk-themes. The symphonist Mosei Vainberg (born 1919) was praised for his `reorientation', and partly turned to the inspiration of folk musics as a safe solution.

The thaw of the Khruschev period was musically led by Shostakovich, whose collaborations with the young poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Symphony No.13 `Babi Yar', 1962, and The Execution of Stepan Razin, 1964) challenged Socialist Realism. Younger composers such as Viacheslav Ovchinnikov (born 1936), whose Symphony No.1 (1960; the S ymphony No.2 for strings is actually earlier, being a 1972-1973 revision of a 1956 work) is a fine, emotive work well worth the discovery, could still descend into the banality of the cantataSong-ballad of BAM Builders (1974) for bass, chorus and orchestra. Shchedrin accumulated some of the tricks and techniques of the Western avant-garde, though without integrating them into a personal and individual idiom. The Ukrainian Boris Liatoshinsky (1895-1968; see under `Ukraine') encouraged his pupils to explore the new Western ideas, but the most prominent promoter of new ideas was Edison Denisov (born 1929), who became president of the revived Association of Contemporary Music. In the 1960s he became interested in serialism and in chamber works for unusual instrumental combinations, but his best known work is the rather elusive Symphony (1987; he has also written a Chamber Symphony, 1983), swaddled in dense layers of overlapping blocks of sound, somewhat in the manner of the Polish avant-garde, miasmically opposing the principles of light and darkness, broken into by high tuned percussion and bells. Its power comes from the clash of themes representing this opposition, and the conflict and resolution following those clashes, with sometimes the darker forces gaining the upper hand, sometimes a dense but limpid beauty and vivid colouristic effects. His other works include the opera L'écume des jours (1981), concertos, and song-cycles. Boris Tishchenko (born 1939) came to prominence with theCello Concerto No.1 (1959, apparently orchestrated by Shostakovich) for cello, seventeen wind instruments, percussion and harmonium or organ, an intense, troubled, sometimes slightly mawkish work with a long, very spare and impassioned solo cello opening setting the tone. His symphonies have preferred five-movement forms. The Symphony No.3 (1966), inspired, like the Requiem (1966), by Akhmatova's lament for her politically murdered husband, is divided into a long opening arc, `Meditation', with four movements, and a shorter `Postscript'. Written for a chamber-sized orchestra, its troubled woodwind emphasis, shot through with anxiety, evolves into haunting, disembodied orchestral effects with plaintive woodwind and brass solos reminiscent of his teacher Shostakovich, culminating in the `Meditation' with the brief introduction of two wordless solo voices. The magnificent Symphony No.5 (1974), again in five movements, is a tribute to Shostakovich, quoting and remoulding in a more modern guise major passages from his teacher's most important works, as well as quotations from Tishchenko's own music. The symphony, with its plaintive opening and close, is also a commentary on the Soviet epic symphony, prepared to show darker, more turbulent emotions and the viability of an alternative epic utterance. TheViolin Concerto No.2 (1982) follows the Shostakovich tradition of mawkish irony on a symphonic scale. Tishchenko may emerge as one of the major Russian voices of his generation, an essentially traditional composer who has effectively absorbed aspects of more recent musical developments. Of other composers of this generation, the later harmonic touches and colours of Andrei Petrov (born 1930) suggest an awareness of such Western composers asBerg and M essiaen. His idiom is contrapuntal, and includes a mawkish humour; the `Poem' To the Memory of the Victims of the Siege of Leningrad (1965-1966) for strings, organ, four trumpets and percussion (including piano used percussively) is perhaps his best known work in the West (under various English translations of the title), the chromatic harmonic vocabulary used to rather heavy-handed effect rather than as substance. His opera Peter I (1972-1975) is on the grandest scale and the most weighty historical subject.

Other composers who worked in styles that did not meet official expectations still await a proper evaluation. Prominent among these is Galina Ustvolskaya (born 1919), who seems to have been ignored rather than censured during the Soviet period; she seems to have completely avoided any necessity to write Socialist Realist works. Her chamber music has a tough, uncompromising emotional tone, close to Sho stakovich, whose later works she may have influenced. The dark Trio (1949) for violin, clarinet and piano stands as a more introverted companion to Shostakovich's Piano Trio . In a similar vein, and not only one of her finest works to appear but also one of the masterpieces of the Russian chamber repertoire, is the grim and insistent Octet for two oboes, four violins, timpani and piano. The twin poles of the piano and the timpani, sometimes like a funeral drum, sometimes like gun-shots, revolve around the central core of strings and wind, moving towards an atonally dissonant thematic idiom with a sharp acerbic edge. If there was ever music that reflected the intellectual desolation under the iron vice of repression, this is it. Of her piano sonatas, the Piano Sonata No.3 takes Bach as a model, while the unconventional Piano Sonata No.5 (1986), in ten movements, carries echoes of her earlier sparse style in a deconstructed and very bare idiom of sharp contrasts, dissonant outbursts, movements stripped to the bare bones, and passages of insistent, almost motoric, chordal repetitions. This idiom of this sonata had been heralded in the Duet (1964) for violin and piano.

The two major younger composers in the U.S.S.R. in the 1960s and 1970s were little known in the West until the 1980s, when they both achieved widespread international prominence. Arvo P ärt (born 1935) will be found under his home country of Estonia. Alfred Schnittke (born 1934), the most important Russian composer of his generation, has evolved an eclectic mainstream idiom of considerable emotional power, especially in works using large orchestral forces. Sofia Guba idulina (born 1931) has attracted attention with her neo-Romantic, sparse idiom that displays a spiritual intensity and sometimes uses religious symbolism. Shchedrin seemed to have finally evolved a personal and individual idiom in the 1980s. Of the other younger Russian composers who have absorbed post-Soviet techniques, Elena Firsova (born 1950) and her husband, Dmitri Smirnov (born 1948), many of whose compositions invoke the English poet William Blake, left Russia in 1991.

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GLAZUNOV

GLIÈRE

GUBAIDULINA

KABALEVSKY

MEDTNER

MIASKOVSKY

PROKOFIEV

RACHMANINOV

SCHNITTKE

SCRIABIN

SHCHEDRIN

SHOSTAKOVICH

STRAVINSKY

SVIRIDOV

VAINBERG

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GLAZUNOV Alexander Konstantinovich

born 10th August 1865 at St. Petersburg

died 21st March 1936 at Paris

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Alexander Glazunov is a prime example of a composer whose artistic imagination failed to match his exceptional gifts and his technical facility. His career spanned the change from the Romantic era to that of experimental modernity, with which he was familiar through his Directorship of the St.Petersburg (later the Leningrad) Conservatory (1895-1928); among his pupils were Miaskovsky and Prokofiev. He himself gradually evolved from Russian Romanticism to a sterner classicism, and was one of the last composers in the Russian 19th-century tradition, although unlike most of his precursors he concentrated on tone poems, ballets and symphonies, and he did not compose an opera.

The two main features of his work are a vibrant sense of orchestration, learnt from of one the greatest orchestrators of any age, his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), and a consistent sense of optimism. There is little that is dark or troubled in any of his work, and this absence is one of the reasons for its ultimate failure; another is his inability to create really memorable themes within a style that so often requires them.

His eight symphonies (a ninth was not completed) were all written between 1880 and 1905, and are consistent in their general approach and in their technical means. Movements are often monothematic, and Glazunov built his material by the extensive manipulation of those themes (sometimes bringing them back in other movements, exemplified in the motto theme of the Symphony No.2 op.16, 1886), including a renewed guise in completely different orchestral colours, and by building up ideas from short fragments. Ultimately the lack of interesting development, and sometimes of interesting counter-material, becomes tedious. Finales are usually more notable for their exuberant noise than their invention, and the scherzos, when Glazunov could draw on his flair for colour and rhythm, are generally the most successful movements. Perhaps the symphonies are better appreciated if approached more in the spirit of colourful orchestral scores than for their symphonic language. The Symp hony No.1 op.5 (1880) is an extraordinarily assured work for someone who had not reached the age of 16, and was responsible for the important and distinguished Russian publishing house, Belyaev, whose founder was so moved by the first performance he determined there and then to publish music. The Symphony No.3 op.33 (1892, possibly 1890) was dedicated to Tchaikovsky, while the Sy mphony No.4 (1893) is subtitled The Lyrical - the happy influence of his ballet music is evident in the scherzo. The Sy mphony No.5 op.55 (1895) has more epic pretensions, with echoes of Wagner, though again its scherzo is the most successful movement, with celesta and glockenspiel prominent in the atmospheric orchestration. In the Symphony No.6 op.58 (1896), Glazunov's increasing interest in a more formal classical style is evident in the intermezzo third movement, in an almost neo-classical style. Otherwise this is the symphony most overtly indebted to the example of Tchaikovsky. The Symphony No.7 op.77 (1902) has sometimes been singled out for praise, and its mood reflects its intentional allusion to Beethoven's Pastoral symphony in its F major key and in the open fifths of its opening theme. Its scherzo quotes from a Slav folk tune. The Symphony No.8 op.83 (1905) has attracted both the most adherents and detractors. A ninth symphony, begun in 1910, was left incomplete at Glazunov's death.

The Violin Concerto op.84 (1904), perhaps Glazunov's best-known work, follows the tradition of the virtuoso violin concerto. Its lyricism is unashamedly Romantic, and the attention is focused on the flowing solo line, further emphasized by the seamless three-movement form, played without a break. Glazunov's typical lack of a really memorable theme is a handicap, but it is redeemed by the song-like nature of the solo writing. The Saxophone Concerto op.109 (1934) is a beguiling work, of chamber proportions, cast in one movement. Written for alto saxophone, there is no suggestion of jazz influence, but rather a gentle pastoralism, as if we were being slowly transported by the lazy movement of the soloist's boat down a pleasant river, with its varying river-bank scenery. But the best music is Undoubtedly that for the balletsRaymonda op.57 (1896-1897) and The Sea sons op.67 (1899-1901), once a perennial favourite in concert programmes and still refreshing in its colours and vivacity. Some of the large number of smaller orchestral works, such as the tone-poemsSpring op.34 (Vesna, 1891) and S tenka Razin op.13 (1885), telling the story of the Cossack rebel-hero, display Glazunov's virtues at their best, while minimizing the weaknesses. They lack the punch of depth of similar works byBax, S uk or Sibelius, but make pleasant diversions; American readers might respond to the Tri umphal March op.40 (1892) that creates an indeed triumphal version of the American song `John Brown's Body', while just avoiding bombast.

Glazunov was historically an important figure both as a link between 19th-century Russian music and 20th-century Russia, and as a dedicated and skilful, if conservative, teacher. With Rimsky-Korsakov he was also responsible for the sorting and preservation of Borodin's music (he reconstructed the overture and sections of Act III of the opera Prince Igor from his prodigious memory). He emigrated to Paris in 1928 when the Soviet regime became more repressive after the death of Lenin, and it was there Prokofiev found him, a rather pathetic and broken alcoholic figure. The Vi olin Concerto and the two major ballets seem destined to survive for their exuberant colour, and certainly are a worthy change for jaded palettes. For Glazunov's is music to be indulged in, rather than approached with intellectual acumen.

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works include:

- 8 symphonies

- Concerto ballata for cello and orch.; 2 piano concertos; saxophone concerto; violin concerto; Chant du ménéstrel,Melodie and serenade espagnole for cello and orch.; 2 Serenades for horn and strings

- overture Carnival, 2 Concert Waltzes,Cortège solennel, Finnish Sketches,From Darkness to Light, From the Middle Ages,Idylle et rêverie orientale, Intermezzo romantico,Introduction and Dance of Salome, Karelian Legend,The Kremlin, Lyric Poem,March on a Russian Theme, Oriental Rhapsody,Overture solennelle, 2 Overtures on Greek Themes,Poème épique, The Sea, Scènes dansante,The Song of Destiny, Spring, Stenka Razin, Triumphant March, Wedding March and other works for orch.

- Elègie for cello and piano; Rêverie for horn and piano; 7 string quartets (No.7 Hommage au passé); Novelettes and Suite for string quartet; saxophone quartet; string quintet and other chamber music

- 2 piano sonatas; Grand valse de concert, Theme and Variations and other works for piano

- 21 songs; 3 cantatas; other vocal works

- ballets Les ruses d'amour, Raymonda and Seasons; incidental music

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recommended works:

ballet Raymonda op.57 (1896-1897)

Saxophone Concerto op.109 (1934)

ballet The Seasons op.67 (1899-1901)

Symphony No.7 op.77 (1902)

Symphony No.8 op.83 (1905)

Violin Concerto op.84 (1904)

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GLIÈRE (GLIER) Reinhold (Reyngol'd) Moritzovich

born 11th January 1875 at Kiev

died 23rd June 1956 at Moscow

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The prolific Reinhold Glière, of Belgian descent, was the grand old man of Soviet composition. His revolutionary credentials were solid enough (he prudently left Russia for two years in 1905, having signed a protest manifesto), and his music, firmly rooted in the Russian Romantic tradition and generally avoiding the darker or more tragic moods, could be upheld as a model against `formalism'.

Of his more than 500 compositions only a few, mainly orchestral works, are likely to be encountered. The Symphony No.1 in E-flat op.8 (1899-1900) is an assured if derivative work in the tradition of Tchaikovsky, with a perky scherzo that could have come from a ballet score and a general youthful exuberance. The Symp hony No.2 in C minor op.25 (1908) is an altogether finer work, while maintaining the same tradition, with something of the towering monumentality of Sibelius in the first movement. The rest of the symphony is less inspired but maintains its interest, especially in the variations of the third movement and the thrust of the finale; the symphony is well worth investigation by those who enjoy the still undervalued genre of the late-Romantic symphony. Glière's masterpiece is generally considered to be the Symphony No.3 `Ilya Murometz' (1910-1911). The full scope of this programmatic symphony is epic, some 90 minutes in length, and it is usually heard in versions that cut it down to a more manageable size; opinions are divided as to whether in its full length it outstays its welcome, or whether it needs to be heard in its monumental whole. Vibrant, teeming, and heady, with a first movement heroic in tone and scale, its has a sensuous abandon in its atmosphere and tone-painting, with Impressionistic touches in the second movement. But perhaps his best work is the gorgeous tone-poem The Sirens op.33 (1908), musically invoking not the Mediterranean but the misty Nordic world of Sibe lius, as if the sirens were calling from the fjords, combined with a rich, almost Impressionistic orchestral tapestry, a fervour worthy of Bax, and a Russian sense of purpose in the rhythms and the main melodies.

The most popular work by Glière has probably been the ballet The Red Poppy (1927), the first Soviet ballet to present an heroic revolutionary theme, here set in China. It is a model of Soviet Socialist Realism: a traditional harmonic idiom, clean poster-paint colours tinged with Eastern exoticisms, and a suitable touch of sentimentality in the tunes; the `Scene and Dance with Goldfingers' will particularly appeal to devotees of epic Hollywood film scores. Its success was followed by that of the ballet The Bronze Horseman (1949), based on Pushkin; both works are expertly crafted for the ballet stage. The unashamedly Romantic and attractive Harp Concerto (1938) has maintained a precarious hold on the repertoire, in part because of the shortage of such works.

In the 1920s Glière made extensive studies of the indigenous music of Azerbaijan, and later Uzbekistan and his home area of Ukraine. The opera Shah-Senem (1925, revised 1934), utilized Azerbaijani folk-songs, telling the story of a poor champion of the people who wins the hand of the Princess (of the title) in a musical contest, and eventually gains her after an uprising of the people. Of his later operas,Hulsara utilized Ukrainian folk-music, Rachael was based on Guy de Maupassant, and Madem oiselle Fifi was set in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.

Glière was director of the Kiev Conservatory (1914-1920) and taught at the Moscow Conservatoire (1921-1956). His many pupils includedKhachaturian, Knipper,Miaskovsky, Mosolov and Prokofiev.

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works include (from over 500 works):

- 3 symphonies (No.3 Ilya Murometz)

- cello concerto; harp concerto; horn concerto; 3 piano concertos; concerto for soprano and orch.; violin concerto

- The Sirens, The Zaporozhye Cossacks and other works for orchestra

- Eight Pieces for violin and cello; 4 string quartets; 3 string sextets; string octet and many other chamber works

- much piano music

- more than 200 songs

- operas Hulsara, Mademoiselle Fifi, Rachael and Shah-Senem

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recommended works:

Symphony No.2 op.25 (1908)

Symphony No.3 Ilya Murometz op.42 (1909-1911)

ballet The Red Poppy (1927)

The Sirens op.33 (1908) for orchestra

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GUBAIDULINA Sofia

born 24th October 1931 at Christopol (Tartar Republic)

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Sofia Gubaidulina is one of the Soviet composers who emerged after glasnost, and immediately attracted some attention outside the (then) U.S.S.R. Her avant-garde techniques were presumably responsible for her obscurity before the cultural relaxations, and are presumably also responsible for the interest of Western commentators curious to encounter a more `advanced' ex-Soviet composer. Like a number of other eastern European composers who came into prominence in the 1980s, her music is imbued with an intense spirituality, exemplified in the Seve n Last Words (1982) for bayan, cello and string orchestra, where the bayan (a type of accordion) represents the human and the cello the spiritual.

Nonetheless, her idiom still seems, as far as one can tell, to be lagging behind developments in Western music, and there is no evidence that her music holds any extraordinary qualities to equal those of the major composers of the avant-garde period of the 1960s and 1970s; there may be an irony that some Western commentators have only been prepared to turn to such experimentations when allied to an extra-musical social and political context. For example the Homage to Maria Svetayeva (1974) for unaccompanied choir uses many of the choral devices familiar to the 1960s avant-garde, from cluster effects to half-spoken passages and pointillism; it is quite effective (especially with the element of rich Russian bass lines), but less striking than a host of similar choral works from the Europe of the 1960s and 1970s. Gubaidulina also shows a predilection for the techniques of instrumental lines and the manipulation of instruments, sometimes creating the effect of two or more instruments acting almost independently, as in the bare lines and plucking effects of the introvertedString Quartet No.3 or in the five movements of Rejoice! for violin and cello, inspired by Ukrainian philosopher Grigory Skovoroda; indeed these effects are more interesting than the rest of the content. A similar concern for bare lines emerges in Hommage à T.S. Eliot (1987) for octet and soprano, where the octave swoops, given harmonic uncertainty by being set against a contrasting note (for example a major seventh) are reminiscent of late Shostakovich. The voice has only a small part to play, and the effects include very tonal fanfares from the horn, eventually creating an atmosphere that recalls Bri tten; the piece was composed in both English and Russian versions of the texts, drawn from The Four Quartets.

Among her more effective works to so far emerge is the violin concerto Offertorium (1979-1980). It opens with a theme from Bach's Musical Offering, creating a 12-tone row (though with repeated notes), and treated pointillistically among the instruments in the manner of Webern. Various devices are then used to suggest `conversion', such as the shortening of the theme by one note at the beginning and one at the end in a series of variations. The last of three sections reconstructs the theme from the centre out, but in reverse; in the coda, the final D of the original theme (omitted from the opening statement) is given to provide resolution. This highly organized formal structure is of interest in itself, but also as a background to the expressive qualities of the work. The first section covers a wide range of textures and colours, with telling details of instrumental emphasis and effects, and moments creating hushed expectations of impending mysteries, the whole a kind of discursive exploration. The middle section concentrates on a beautiful, hymn-like meditation from the soloist with an accompaniment giving the effect of an improvisatory folk orchestra; the third section is a return to the more fragmented moods of the first, and knowledge of the structure is useful in threading through what might otherwise seem rather fragmented ideas.

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works include:

- symphony Stimmen...Verstummen

- bassoon concerto; piano concerto; violin concerto Offertorium; concerto for orchestra and jazz band; Seven Last Words for cello, bayan and string orch.

- In Croce for cello and organ; Garden of Joy and Sadness for flute, harp and viola; 3 string quartets and other chamber works

- Hour of the Soul for mezzo-soprano and wind orch.; Night in Memphis for mezzo-soprano, chorus and orch.

- film scores

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recommended works:

Hommage à T.S. Eliot (1987) for octet and soprano

violin concerto Offertorium (1979-1980)

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KABALEVSKY Dmitri Borisovich

born 30th December 1904 at St.Petersburg

died 14th February 1987 at Moscow

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The undemanding and melodious idiom of Dmitri Kabalevsky, firmly rooted in the harmonies and structures of the 19th century, commended him to the Soviet authorities. However, if a large number of his works reflect political aims (such as The Song of the Party Membership Card, 1956, for chorus and orchestra), there are a number that happily reflect his cheerful and lyrical voice, unencumbered by political messages, and which will give pleasure to many.

Chief among these are the three concertos written with young people in mind (though not necessarily to be played by the less experienced), neo-classical in form and in the clarity of orchestration, but with a Romantic lyricism. The glory of the Violin Concerto op.48 (1948) is the bitter-sweet lyrical outpouring of the slow movement, that requires a mellow richness of solo tone for full effect. Its simplicity is perfectly judged (as in the arpeggio solo passages over the theme in the orchestral violins), and it is framed by a dancing opening movement that flashes by at a canter, and a finale that gradually changes the mood to the boisterous and the perky. Within its intended limitations this is a most infectious concerto. The other two youth concertos follow a similar format. The Cello Concerto No.1 op.49 (1948-1949) is again richly lyrical, its slow movement more lamenting as if haunted by past tragedy, and the finale has a pleasant folkish lilt. The Piano Concerto No.3 `Youth' op. 50 (1952) has its memorable moments, but has too many pale reminders of Rac hmaninov, Shostakovich (of the first piano concerto) and especially Pro kofiev to achieve an independent identity.

Of his symphonies, the first two include chorus and are on patriotic subjects, while the Symphony No.4 (1954) has a very beguiling opening movement, the beautiful, slow, plaintive opening being countered by an epic theme and by lyrical tone-painting. The slow second movement has musical connections with the opera The Family of Taras, and continues the plaintive-epic mood; the scherzo is a waltz, and if the finale is too brazen and obvious for comfort, this is an attractive if undemanding symphony. The suite The Comedians op.26 (1940) used to be quite well known; based on music for a children's play, it is bright, perky, and well orchestrated, belonging to the world of the Pops orchestra.

The best-known of his operas is Colas Breugnon op.24 (1936-1938, also known as The Craftsman of Clamecy), based on the novel by the French writer (and excellent music critic) Romain Rolland. Rolland was displeased with the libretto, and Kabalevsky revised the opera first in 1953, and then again, as op.90, in 1969, attempting to return the libretto to the spirit of the book and its central character. The setting is 16th-century rural France; the hero is a carver and sculptor, for whom laughter and a bubbling joy of life overcome misfortunes. There is little of the direct social comment common in Soviet operas, although the Duke and the priest are given unsympathetic portraits. The setting, which covers some 40 years, is in a folk-opera style, full of pleasant tunes and a completely tonal, lyrical idiom. There is no attempt to use the musical opportunities of the period; idiomatically, the setting could be 19th-century Russia, and even the `Dies Irae' is in Orthodox style. The libretto is perhaps more interesting than the music, and the colourful overture is better known than the whole opera, which is perhaps as it should be. The opera Before Moscow (1942) concerned the events of the repulsion of the Nazis at Moscow in 1941, and heroine of The Family of Taras (1944-1947), based on Gogol, is a young Komsomol woman. Kabalevsky's songs include settings of Shakespeare sonnets.

Kabalevsky was a member of the PROKOLL group in the 1920s, which experimented with collective composition. His piano pieces for children and beginners are particularly recommended; they range from the extreme simplicity of A Game from op.39 to complex and exacting pieces, all written with a charm that makes an interesting alternative to the usual repertoire, and with a specific skill developed or tested in each piece.

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works include:

- 4 symphonies (No.1 Proletarians Unite for chorus and orch.; No.3 Requiem for Lenin for chorus and orch.)

- 2 cello concertos; 3 piano concertos; violin concerto;Prague Concerto for piano and strings; rhapsody School Years for piano and orch.

- suite The Comedians, Music for the Memorial in Bryansk,Overture Pathétique, suite Romeo and Juliet,The Spring, Symphonic Prelude in Memory of Heroes of Gorlovka for orch.

- Études for solo cello; cello sonata; Rondo for violin and piano; 2 string quartets;

- songs including Three Songs of Revolutionary Cuba

- 3 piano sonatas; 2 piano sonatinas; Recitative and Rondo, Twenty-Four Preludes and other piano music

- Requiem; oratorio Letter to the 30th century; cantataLeninists; Our Great Fatherland,People's Avengers, Poem of Struggle andThe Testament for chorus and orch.; The Motherland, Songs of Morning, Spring and Peace and Youth Parade for children's chorus and orch.

- ballet Vasilek

- operas Before Moscow, Colas Breugnon, The Golden Spikes, Nikita Vershinin and Sisters; operetta Spring Sings

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recommended works:

Cello Concerto No.1 op.49 (1948-1949)

Symphony No.4 in C min op.54 (1956)

Violin Concerto op.48 (1948)

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KHACHATURIAN - see ARMENIA

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MEDTNER (METNER) Nikolai Karlovich

born 5th January 1880 at Moscow

died 13th November 1951 at London

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A composer of few works but of refined sensibilities with classical tendencies and a Romantic imagination, Medtner left Russia in 1921, living in Germany (1921-1924) and Paris (1926-1936), and finally settling in Britain. Apart from three piano concertos and some 100 songs, all his output was for piano or smaller chamber forces, and has enjoyed a small revival since the 1970s. His music might have fallen into complete obscurity had it not been for the Maharajah of Mysore, the patron of a Medtner Society that arranged, from 1948, for Medtner to make recordings of his compositions.

On hearing the Piano Concerto No.1 op. 33 (1914-1917), it is not difficult to see why Medtner has his adherents: at the base, an easily assimilable idiom in the tradition of the 19th century, an unthreatening harmonic idiom, an unusual construction to keep the intellectual attention, and enough unexpected rhythmic and harmonic effects to add a twist of modernism without undue threat. Constructed in one movement in sonata form, with each section of the form acting as the equivalent of a movement, it opens in the grand virtuoso Romantic manner, but immediately its chromatic twists and rhythmic irregularities and shifts indicate an unusual sensibility, as if the composer, avoiding the deeply worn ruts of a well travelled track, had started a new set a few feet away, one constantly revolving and undulating. The idiom might be described as Rachmaninov with more difficulties and volatility, a fascinating anachronism trying to draw out 19th century sensibilities into the 20th (one would scarcely credit without knowing its dates that the composer had witnessed the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution during its composition). Within those limitations, it is a work of great accomplishment and interest, and for those incapable of moving beyond the 19th-century in their musical idiom, it will enrich their repertoire. By the Piano Concerto No.3 op.60 (c.1940-1943), the idiom had become even more reminiscent of early Rachmaninov, in phrasing, in the relationship between the soloist and orchestra, and emotional mould, the rhythmic irregularities and chromaticism less evident than in the first concerto, combined with occasional echoes of Tchaikovsky. But it is not entirely a clone (as is, for example, the Harty piano concerto) and there is enough conviction in the consistent lyrical flow to make this concerto well worth hearing for those who enjoy such an idiom.

The twelve piano sonatas follow much the same idiom and pattern as the concertos, with formal designs contained in single spans, internally divided into sections corresponding to movements, and often with a single linking idea. The other piano music ranges from the delightful and precocious Stimmungsbilde op.1 (1896-1897) to ten opus numbers of Fairy Tales, a series of miniatures that cover much of his compositional life. Another fine work which occupied much of Medtner's life is the Piano Quintet op.posth. (1903-1949), which by the standards of 19th-century conventions is unusual in form, the weight shifted to the finale (the only sonata movement), which includes themes from the previous movements. It must be said that if one heard this work blind one would be fairly astonished to discover that it was written in the 20th century.

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works include:

- 3 piano concertos

- 3 violin sonatas (No.2 Sonata epica); 3 Nocturnes for violin and piano; piano quintet and other chamber music

- 12 piano sonatas; Hymns in Praise of Toil,Improvisations, 10 sets of Fairy Tales, 3 sets of Forgotten Melodies, Lyric Fragments, Novels and other works for piano; Knight-Errant and Russian Round Dance for 2 pianos

- Sonata-Vocalise for voice and piano; many songs, including cycles based on Goethe and Heine and settings of Pushkin and Nietzsche

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recommended works:

Piano Concerto No.1 op.33 (1914-1918)

Piano Concerto No.3 op.60 (c.1940-1943)

Piano Quintet op.posth. (1903-1949)

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MIASKOVSKY (MYASKOVSKY) Nikolai Yakovlevich

born 20th April 1881 at Novogeorgievsk (near Warsaw)

died 8th August 1950 at Moscow

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The music of the prolific Nikolai Miaskovsky has been overshadowed by that of his contemporary Prokofiev and the younger Shostakovich, but after those two composers he is the major Russian symphonist of the first half of the century. He has the reputation of an extreme conservative, but this is mistaken, largely based on such later works as the Vio lin Concerto and the Symphony No.23. For while neither a harmonic nor a formal revolutionary, he developed a complex and unsettled idiom within the forms and general harmonic usage of a continuing tradition, much as did the symphonies of B ax or Vaughan Williams, before turning to a simpler and more direct utterance. The emotional struggles in these works are as 20th-century as those of such contemporaries (Miaskovsky himself described the struggle as that between subjective emotional response and objective classical serenity); what they lack are the distinctive personal idiomatic touches that might have secured him a more lasting place in the repertoire. Nonetheless, the sincerity of that struggle is palpable in the best of his works, and well worth hearing. Through all his output runs a streak of melancholy or nostalgia, often counterpoised by brighter material as if Miaskovsky was determined to overcome it. This emerges as a lament for transience, particularly that of the countryside (overt in the Symphony No.5); there is a strong pastoral streak in his music, which in his late works evolves into echoes of folk idioms.

At the heart of his output are twenty-seven symphonies and thirteen string quartets. His earlier works were influenced by Scriabin, obvious in such works as the P iano Sonata No.3 (actually the eighth written), where the heavily chromatic, quasi-improvisatory writing has a similar heady atmosphere of the visionary mystic. The Symphony No.3 (1914), in two-movements, still shows the influence of Scriabin and G lière, but Miaskovsky then developed a symphonic idiom of complex shapes, unusual construction (often built on thematic cells, and sometimes with two or one-movement structures), and within the basic dichotomy already outlined, turbulent emotions, all founded on a traditional sense of harmony and structure. The Sym phony No.5 (1918), in four movements, seems to reflect the contrast between the former peacefulness of the countryside Medtner saw on the retreat from Galicia while serving in the army, and the horrors of the war. It opens with forest murmurings, and a lovely broad counter theme, while the lullaby second movement has a dark, unsettling, nightmarish aspect. A Galician Christmas carol is used in the trio of the bucolic scherzo. The fine Symphony No.6 (1922-1923) for chorus and orchestra, using folk-song, French revolutionary songs and the Dies Irae, reflected his growing social awareness. The Sym phony No.7 (1922) brings the turbulent emotions to the fore in a musically unsettled mood where there are touches of Mahlerian influence in the treatment, if not layout. The two movements are played without a break, creating the feel of one span, especially as the theme of the first movement returns in the second. The concise span of the Sym phony No.10 (1927) makes it one of the most effective of his symphonies, with a murmuring opening at which Miaskovsky was so skilled, and a general contrast between a plaintive and a disturbed, angry mood. The Symphony No.12 (1931-1932) symbolized life on the collective farms, and the introverted Symphony No.13 (1933) and the Symphony No.17 (1936-1937) have been highly regarded. By the Symphony No.21 (1939-1940), a short, one movement symphony that progresses from the big and brazen towards a warm, noble mood, the emotional content had become held over longer spans, with less sudden change. The Symphony No.22 (1941) reflected the events that preceded it (the peace before the war and the Nazi invasion) in one movement divided into three sections. With the very attractive Symphony No.23 (1942), subtitled `Symphonic Suite on Caucasian Themes', Miaskovsky moved to a simpler, very direct idiom incorporating folk-music elements, partly out of a belief in reaching the widest possible audience. The heart of the work, which is probably his best known, lies in the first two of three movements: the first a slow and melancholic mood framing a fast and perky dance, unmistakably in a folk idiom in the rhythms, melodies, and colours, and a lyrical slow movement in the mould of 19th-century Russian nationalism. The finale (unlike so many Soviet symphonies, which attempt the huge and triumphant) is a suitably short folk-dance with a contrasting melancholic passage. This clean-cut, straightforward symphony is close to the later symphonic idiom of Miaskovsky's close friend Prokofiev, and indeed shares themes with the latter's String Quartet No.2. Perhaps the finest of all his symphonies is the last. The Symphony No.27 (1949-1950) harks back to an Edwardian idiom, and is valedictory in tone. Inexplicably, given the open, easily approachable nature of his later music, Miaskovsky had been denounced in the notorious Zhdanov decree of 1948 for `formalism', and this symphony was his answer; he was also dying of cancer. The slow opening music lays out one of his country landscapes, but the slow movement is full of a new sad valedictory power, opening with rich brass sonorities in an idiom that recollects Dvorák's ninth symphony. The finale movement has a nobility worthy of Elgar, and an attempt at a triumphal march that ends in a minor key. This sincere and moving work should be far better known.

Of his other works, the Sinfonietta (1929) uses solo violin passages in the first and second of three movements, but is of little interest. Far more appealing is the Vio lin Concerto (1938), in an unashamedly lyrical Romantic idiom, with an exceptionally long cadenza in the first movement and a pastoral slow movement. The Cello Concerto (1945) has an Elgarian nobility. A lighter side of Miaskovsky is seen in the sunny Lyr ic Concertino (1929) for string orchestra, full of country pictorialism (including the effect of a hurdy-gurdy) and an intense but gentle slow movement, as if describing a landscape at dusk. This shy and introverted composer was also capable of self-assertive musical jokes. The String Quartet No.3 (1909; actually the second, but published third), written while Miaskovsky was still a student, opens with a theme using letters from the name Edvard Grieg, whom he admired but whom his teacher Liadov despised. The second movement contains a musical code for the words `Beware of Liadov'. It is otherwise an innocuous and mournfully beautiful work.

Miaskovsky was himself a celebrated teacher, and among his pupils at the Moscow Conservatory, where he taught from 1921 to 1950, wereKabalevsky and Kha chaturian.

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works include:

- 27 symphonies (No.6 with chorus); 2 sinfonietta (for small orchestra; for string orchestra)

- cello concerto; violin concerto; Lyric Concertino for strings

- Alastor, Divertimento, Festive Overture, From the Entire Soul, Silence

- 2 cello sonatas; 13 string quartets

- 9 piano sonatas; 3 books of Children's Pieces, Fancies,Links (also orchestrated), Souvenirs, The Yellowed Pages for piano

- Madrigal for voice and piano; settings of Lermontov

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recommended works:

Cello Concerto (1945)

Symphony No.5 (1918)

Symphony No.6 (1922-1923)

Symphony No.7 (1922)

Symphony No.10 op.30 (1927)

Symphony No.17 (1936-1937)

Symphony No.21 (1939-1940)

Symphony No.23 op.56 (1942) Symphony No.27 (1949)

Violin Concerto (1938)

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PÄRT (sometimes spelt Pärt, Piart, Pyart)

see under ESTONIA

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PROKOFIEV Sergei Sergeievich

born 23rd April 1891 at Sontsovka (Ukraine)

died 5th March 1953 at Moscow

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The music of Sergei Prokofiev is one of the delights of the 20th century. Never academic, rarely intellectual, only sometimes profound (but then forcibly so), it always shows the distinctive stamp of the musical character and incisive, sometimes compulsive, and yet supremely lyrical temperament of its composer. For Prokofiev is the 20th-century composer who best understood the power and artistic impact of fantasy. At its artistic best, fantasy allows an artist whose natural bent is optimistic and joyfully bright a freedom of expression that retains those qualities without being hackneyed or commonplace. It also has the power to contain more profound statements and emotions than its surface gloss would suggest, often obliquely, especially in an ironic cast or through the archetypal areas of programmatic or stage works. All these qualities Prokofiev had in profusion, sometimes extending fantasy into the fantastical, but always with a wealth of imagination. Only when he became literal (notably to meet the requirements of Soviet realism) does that imagination and that fantasy flag, and fortunately those times are relatively few and far between.

Perhaps the supreme expression of fantasy in music is the ballet, with its expression of archetypes, and it is no coincidence that Prokofiev became one of the greatest ballet composers of all time. Yet the other major expression of his genius comes at the other pole of musical expression, and is still far too little known by many music-lovers. Prokofiev's series of nine piano sonatas (a tenth was left incomplete) represent the major contribution to the genre by any composer in the 20th century: Prokofiev was himself a brilliant pianist. If the earliest represent a youthful and still maturing composer, the later sonatas are the closest Prokofiev came to an expression of his private, interior world.

There are two distinct strands in Prokofiev's musical make-up, and both intertwine with varying prominence through his entire output. The first (which was also the first to emerge in his adult works) is mercurial, aggressive, brilliant, experimental and sometimes shocking, which gave him the reputation of an enfant terrible. Associated with it are clashing dissonances (always used against a tonal backdrop), driving, pulsing and sometimes motoric rhythms, and the impact of repetition. This side of Prokofiev was linked to his piano playing and writing, cascading with notes and textures. The other side is lyrical, often tender, sometimes dreamy, and capable of extending into the grand or the epic. Associated with this aspect are Prokofiev's lovely long-limbed tunes, a clarity of orchestration that loved the lower tones of the woodwind, provided a bass line constantly on the move, and delighted in the punctuation of brass or bright, upper range instruments. This side is exemplified by his ballets; but in both cases, Prokofiev's music is hardly ever still, and the march, from the grand to the tongue-in-cheek ironical, usually occurs somewhere in a Prokofiev work. The sweep comes in the long tunes, rarely in extended still passages, and even in these moments of long-phrased lyricism the lower voices are usually mobile and plastic or else creating repetitive ideas. This impulse, imparting an enthusiasm for life, is one of the happiest characteristics of the composer. In his best works, both these strands appear to varying degrees, modifying each other. His structures are usually Classical in origin, but he inclined towards episodic ideas rather than closely argued development, again an advantage in such genres as the ballet.

Prokofiev's output is also complex, embracing a wider variety of genres and styles than those only familiar with his best-known works might suspect. Like Shostakovich, it is further complicated by the presence of some works of lesser quality that were clearly written for political correctness, though Prokofiev, with his natural bent towards writing music that would appeal to people, suffered artistically less than his contemporary. Setting aside his prodigious childhood output, his earliest works are mostly brilliant and explosive. He settled in France in 1920, and gradually the lyrical aspects of his musical personality came into prominence. He revisited the USSR in 1933, returning permanently in 1936. For the main part, his idiom then became simplified, and this period includes his best-known ballets. However, he bore the main brunt of Zhdanov's attacks in 1948, and suffered a heart attack in 1949, and his last works have generally been held to reflect adversely the effects of these events. His major works are to be found among his seven symphonies, his seven concertos, his nine completed piano sonatas, two of his operas and two of his ballets, but there are enough works in other genres to confound such an easy classification.

Two of Prokofiev's symphonies are among his most commonly heard works. His first symphony is a work of astonishing vitality, verve, and consummate proportions. The title of Symphony No.1 `Classical' op.25 (1917) describes the tone of the work: Prokofiev threw off any shackles of the Romantic tradition in the genre by producing a symphony that looked back to the forms and the proportions of a pre-Romantic age. By using chromatic devices to ease from key to key with fluidity he welded from this basis an entirely modern work - the first neo-classical symphony. It also allowed him to indulge in a favourite idiom, the dance, and in the kind of melodies that the dance can engender. It is a brilliant, instantly infectious work, dazzlingly executed, full of typical Prokofiev touches such as the quirky, jovial delight typified by pitting a solo bassoon against upper strings, or the contrasts of slower grandeur and rushing passages, the lower brass pumping almost motorically. Part of its contemporary feel is created by the fluent shifts between a chamber-orchestra sound (in Classical style) and a much larger, grander orchestral idiom. It has remained one of the most popular, if not the most popular, of all 20th-century symphonies.

The next three symphonies are much less well-known. The second and third symphonies reflect Prokofiev in his more daring, aggressive and modernist vein, and have generally been discounted as being too problematic. They burst with ideas, especially the huge orchestral textures of the first movement of the Symphony No.2 op.40 (1924-1925), with its massed lines of counterpoint: an amazing, garish, fascinating and brutal construct of the iron and steel, constructivism on the symphonic stage. One needs to be prepared for the onslaught to listen to it, and expect nothing of the lyrical Prokofiev. Its two-movement form is based on Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.32 op.111, the second being a theme and variations with some marvellously imaginative and memorable writing. The Symphony No.3 op.44 (1928), was built on material from Prokofiev's opera The Fiery Angel (see below), tones down some of the massive passion of the second, and again is full of stunningly inventive material and foretastes of the better known ballets, from the pastel tapestry of the andante to the huge, almost literal, orchestral slide into the abyss in the last movement. The problem with both these symphonies is that the ideas are so teeming that they are scarcely contained by the symphonic argument: one remembers individual passages rather than the overall cast or impact (and indeed some of Prokofiev's most memorable ideas and effects occur in these two symphonies). Within their symphonic limitations they both make for an exhilarating experience; if they do lack symphonic cohesion, that in part reflects the emotive range of a young composer who himself had not yet contained those experiences within a more mature framework. The Symphony No.4 op.47 (1929-1930) was also based on other material, the ballet The Prodigal Son , and is less extravagant than its immediate predecessors, although the symphonic argument is still weak in comparison to the first or the later symphonies, the home key of C major predominant. However, the contrasts of a surging drive and more pastoral material give the first movement real impact, while the balletic qualities of the original material delightfully intrude into the last (especially in the original version). It exists in two versions, due to a revision made by Prokofiev in 1947; he lengthened the symphony, adding introductions to all movements, and improved some of the developmental material, giving it the opus number 112. The first version is more biting, more earthy, perhaps more immediate; the second more symphonically cohesive, and orchestrally more assured. Preferences will depend on individual tastes, but in either version the symphony contains too much arresting material to be ignored.

In terms of structure, Prokofiev matured as a symphonic composer in the final three symphonies, and not merely because he simplified his style on his return to the Soviet Union. The proportions, both of emotional material and symphonic structure, are more controlled and better proportioned, and musical ideas more integrated into a whole, though some may regret the passing of the sheer raw vitality of the preceding works. These last three symphonies are similar in manner, very different in tone. The Sym phony No.5 op.100 (1944) has remained, with the first, the most popular of Prokofiev's symphonies, and understandably so. The epic grandeur of the first movement, mixed with a touch of the pastoral, the sleigh-ride delight of the substantial scherzo with an orchestration of sparkling snow, rumbling runners and the brightness of harness bells, a bitter-sweet slow movement that eventually reflects the war in which it was written in the insistent brass, and the boisterous delight of the finale, are instantly attractive and yet contain an undercurrent of deeper concern and unease. The Symphony No.7 op.131 (1951-1952) has often been criticized as being too easy, with the charm of the fifth but not the underlying substance. However, it was begun as a work for children, and it seems entirely appropriate that Prokofiev should complete his symphonies with a work that has elements of the child-like, though never child-ish. For it has a simple flow of appealing music (such as the magisterial theme of the first movement that returns at the end of the work) and if approached in the spirit of its origins it is entirely delightful. But Prokofiev's symphonic masterpiece is the Symphony No.6 op.111 (1945-1947). It is full of Prokofiev's characteristic musical fingerprints, but they are metamorphosed into vehicles for emotions of a darker, more introverted intensity rare in his output, closely argued in a three-movement form. The brutal chords of the opening will come as a shock to those used to Prokofiev's more easy vein, in the same fashion as the opening of Vaughan Williams' fourth symphony sounds so devastating to those only familiar with his pastoral mood. The march of the opening movement has uncomfortable undertones and a touch of menace, the slow movement opens in a terrible darkness, its own march biting and half-satirical, while the melodies of the lighter-hearted finale go harmonically awry, and the symphony ends in genuine tragedy.

Three of Prokofiev's concertos have a firm hold on the repertoire, and of these the best known is the Piano Concerto No.3 op.26 (1917-1921). The opening can be only described as Impressionistic, with a cascade of glittering notes after a clarinet introduction, but then the piano dashes into a short movement of dazzling fluency and drive; there is a marvellous sense of virtuoso fantasy here, as if a box of toy figures had been opened, and they were all rejoicing in their freedom. The central andante, a theme and variations, provides a complete contrast, with beautiful piano writing ranging right across the upper end of the keyboard, and a wide range of mood that includes the lazily mysterious. The finale provides another contrast: bubbling amusement, a hint of playful pomposity, a touch of the grotesque, the lyrical. The concerto is as fluent as the first symphony, and the combination of instant appeal and effortless virtuosity will give pleasure to the newcomer and the specialist alike. The Violin Concerto No.1 (1916-1917) is far less obviously a display piece: there is no cadenza, and the soloist and orchestra are essentially in consort rather than in dialogue. Its opening is gentle and exceptionally beautiful, leading the listener into an overall form in which two predominantly slower movements frame a faster one. The solo line is constantly singing, and there is a magical, fantastical section of high harmonics to the end of the first movement. The central movement full of bouncing, swooping delights and a more ponderous march, the soloist descending into gruffer regions. The finale opens with another march but is soon subverted to a more lyrical mood of song, both tender and melancholic and at the end delicately nostalgic. There is little that is sentimental about this concerto, but much that celebrates joy and beauty. The Violin Concerto No.2 op.63 (1935) is less well known but equally beautiful, more circumspect, thoughtful, expressing more of an uncomplicated inward contemplation than the ebullient out-stretched arms of its predecessor: no real fireworks, just a sustained lyricism.

However, some of the lesser-known concertos provide an equally remarkable, if less immediately appealing, experience. The short but entirely effective Piano Concerto No.1 op. 10 (1911-1912) opens with one of the most arresting opening ideas of any concerto, the piano creating a rising and falling phrase which seems to take flight, and which makes a brilliant moment of satisfying recognition as it returns at the end of the concerto to create a form in which each of the three movements are parts of an overall modified sonata form. The concerto is one of youthful brilliance, its occasional looks over its shoulder to the Romantic tradition are combined with more dissonant propulsion into modernism, and in the slow movement (influenced by Rachm aninov) the little upward runs punctuating the piano melody were an effect Prokofiev was to utilize regularly. When eventually a Wagnerian horn call rings out, the piano launches away into a spiky, cock-a-snoop cadenza, as if to say that one age is ending and another beginning. Indeed it was, and that change is taken further in the Piano Concerto No.2 op.16 (1912-1913, revised 1923). This work has often been heavily criticized, and perhaps it is only coming into its own in an age that more readily accepts artistic expression of the psychological turbulence of youth. The magnificent first movement, one of the finest in all the piano concerto repertoire, is a huge upwelling of emotion, combining motoric rhythms with more subtle and mysterious colours, leading to a gigantic cadenza of awesome power and a return of the orchestra that takes one's breath away in its inevitability and its impact. The whole movement is an expression of the yearning to break free, for this is a work of the grandeur (and sometimes the excess) of discovering one's powers, and many may dislike it precisely because of those bursting passions, uncomfortable both because of their semi-Romantic concerto context and because few of us like to be reminded of the power of our youthful aspirations. The rest of the concerto is not as arresting as this opening movement and is too long, but still contains some memorable writing; the concerto is worth discovering for the first movement alone. Both the first two concertos will be occasionally encountered, but the fourth and fifth have fallen into obscurity. The rather ponderous Piano Concerto No.4 op.53 (1931) was written for the left-hand only. It is chiefly of interest for the restrained beauty of its slow movement, apart from the sheer virtuosity of the one-handed piano writing. The five-movement Piano Concerto No.5 op.55 (1931-1932) is more interesting, though neither concerto has the impact of the earlier works. The Cello Concerto op.58 (1933-1938) was extensively revised to form what is essentially a new work, the Symphony-Concerto for cello and orchestra op.125 (1950-1952), in which form it is more usually encountered. It is a long and substantial work in which the soloist takes an equal place with the orchestra (as the revised title would imply); its overall tone is gentle and rather ruminative, and it can be an effective work when in the hands of a soloist with powers of a rich and expressive tone.

Piano music forms a substantial part of Prokofiev's output. Three of the first four sonatas have their origins in student works, the second and third are revisions or rewritings, both carrying the subtitle`D'après des vieux cahiers' (`From old notebooks'). The Piano Sonata No.1 op.1 (1909) originally had three movements, but Prokofiev published only the allegro, thus making a short, obviously derivative, but energetic and pianistic work. The much longer four-movement Piano Sonata No.2 op.14 (1912) is the exception to this group, as it is not a revision of an earlier work. Its writing is incisively clear-cut, but tamer than many of Prokofiev's works of the period, with a lovely lilting Russian feel to the slow movement as if Mussorgsky's oxen-carts were somewhere in the back of Prokofiev's mind, and a typical lithe, running cast to the finale, like swift-running rivulets spinning over slower eddies. The short one-movement P iano Sonata No.3 op.28 (1917, rewriting of 1907 sonata) is the best known of the earlier sonatas. It opens in a torrent of notes before settling down to a typically melodic second subject and a tempestuous development out of which the more tranquil mood emerges triumphant. In the beguiling Piano Sonata No.4 (1917 from 1908) two quicker movements frame the major attraction of this sonata, a slower andante that explores an evolving and gently fantastical soundscape, from a sense of the march to a lilting lyricism that heralds the later Prokofiev, all hued with touches of dissonances like sharp colours in a autumn landscape. Any traces of derivative elements have disappeared by the Pi ano Sonata No.5 op. 38 (1923), revised as op.135 in 1953. It is Prokofiev in his delicate vein, full of charm; chromatic colours and running threads add shades to a delightful sonata whose andantino has elements of child-like fantasy, and where perhaps only the very ending of the whole work fails to convince. In the Pi ano Sonata No.6 op.82 (1939) Prokofiev expanded the layout into four movements, producing a work of symphonic proportions. There are echoes of the `barbaric' young Prokofiev, but now combined with simplified, clearer textures, less violently driven by juxtapositions of contrasting material. The next two sonatas, both in B flat major, are among the masterpieces of the piano repertoire. The Pi ano Sonata No.7 op.83 (1939-1944) has become the best known of the sonatas, and a challenge to pianists for the power and control it requires. Its angular opening idea announces the uneasy edge that pervades the whole sonata. The march into which this develops is equally uncomfortable; the quiet, lyrical moments of the first movement are touched with anxiety; much of the slow movement inhabits the lower, darker reaches of the keyboard, and its central climax reaches up towards the ecstasy of the cadenza of the second piano concerto without the same sense of hope and confidence. All this is framed by the rhythmic drive of the faster sections of the opening movement, and the dynamism of the last, marked `precipito', one of the most mercurial movements Prokofiev wrote. Recurrent themes reiterate with pounding force, especially the hurtling and menacing three-note idea of the finale (which made its brief first appearance in the piano cycle Visions fugitives). The Piano Sonata No.8 op.84 (1939-1944) is more introverted, but no less powerful. The first movement is Beethovenesque in its feel and import and almost symphonic in scale, with a development section of tragedy and anguish combined with angry utterance; a sense of fate stalks through this music, framed by the quieter hiatus of the opening and the close. The short second movement opens with even clearer reminders of Beethoven, albeit to a more jaunty rhythm, the whole composed of irony combined with nostalgia. The third movement follows without a break, mercurial, insistent, sometimes motoric, ultimately terrifying and despairing, with references to the opening movement of the second piano concerto and to Chopin's B flat minor piano sonata. It seems simply unbelievable that such heartfelt and searching music as the sixth, seventh and eighth sonatas should have been singled out and condemned by the Soviet authorities in 1948 as too complicated. Perhaps even more than Shostakovich's work (which almost always had elements of protest) these three sonatas stand as bulwarks against the madness of cultural philistinism and dictatorship. The four-movement Pia no Sonata No.9 op. 103 (1947) explores a different tone to the wartime sonatas. At its base is a classical simplicity and clarity, the harmonies following a more classical pattern, the textures leaner, the feel more ruminating, the rhythms calmer. But by no means is it a simplistic work; in it, more than any of the other sonatas, Prokofiev seems to be conducting a lovers' dialogue with the keyboard for its own sake, albeit it a muted one - an interior close to the sequence that asks for contemplation and meditation on the part of the listener.

Besides the sonatas there is a considerable body of other piano music, ranging from the fiery to the music of affection and lyricism for children. The famous Suggestion Diabolique is the final piece of Four Pieces op.4 (1908-1909); all four short pieces look back to the heavy chromaticism and virtuoso style of Liszt, and the final piece is a furious helter-skelter, its diabolic tone based on the use of the tritone (once associated with the devil), even more effective when the first three pieces of the set have already been heard. Yet more rigid in its ferocity, and much more motoric in its repeated 16th notes is the Toccata op.11 (1912). Both these works represent Prokofiev the enfant terrible. More organized, and more assured, while still maintaining the element of experimentation, are the five Sarcasms op.17 (1912-1914): the jerky, granular No.2 is one of the few Prokofiev pieces without a key, while No.3, propelled by ostinati, has two simultaneous keys. No.4 is especially effective, the initial bell sounds set against a high scanning right-hand eventually turning into something very delicate - sarcasm is but one aspect of this effective set. The finest of these piano sets, and Prokofiev at his most seriously experimental, are the Visions fugitives op.22 (1915-1917). Composed of 20 short pieces, they are largely introspective, delicate, sometimes moving into a more emphatic tone (as in No.XIV, Feroce), but throughout there is a strange disembodied effect, both intimate and distancing and often with a ghostly beauty, created in part by the consistent use of the high, bright registers of the keyboard.

Prokofiev was the most important composer of classical ballet since Tchaikovsky. His musical style, itself so full of movement, was ideally suited to expressing movement, and through that movement, character. He had an unerring sense of conjuring up musical atmosphere for the ballet stage, to such an extent that the suites from his ballets have achieved widespread popularity in their own right. The only one to have fallen into oblivion is On the Dnieper op.51 (1930), originally commissioned by the Paris Opéra. His first ballet, Chout op.21 ( The Buffoon, 1915, revised 1920) has a story too unfortunate, initially violent, and typically Russian, to receive regular staging, in spite of its strong irony: a buffoon apparently whips his wife to death, brings her back to life again, and encourages seven friends to do the same, but without the same outcome. The rest of the ballet humorously describes his successful attempts to elude their revenge. But the music is atmospheric and lively, with dissonant energy and vitality, and is usually heard in the form of a twelve section suite (op.21a). P as d'acier op.41 (The Age of Steel, 1925) reflects the iron and steel of its title. It is a mixture of the constructivist and the lyrical Prokofiev, with a touch of jazzy syncopation, and is interesting precisely because of its mechanistic elements. The music for The Prodigal Son (1928-1929) is best encountered in its reincarnations in the two versions of the fourth symphony. But it was with Romeo and Juliet op.64 (1935-1936), based on the Shakespeare play, that Prokofiev matured as a ballet composer. His ability to portray anger and conflict as well as lyricism was ideally suited to the subject, and he produced a score of passion, immediacy, and rhythmic drive, the characters and the events vividly drawn, at his best in the music surrounding conflict (`Montagues and Capulets', `Tybalt's death') rather than in the love music between Romeo and Juliet, whose urgent teenage sensuous passion was less well suited to Prokofiev's lyricism than the romantic purity of the subject of his next ballet, Cinderella, where the love music is finer. Ro meo and Juliet is most likely to be heard in the first two of the three suites Prokofiev drew from the ballet (No.1 op.64a, 1936, No.2 op.64b, No.3 op.101, 1946), which have become staples of the orchestral repertoire. Both these first two suites actually contain differences from the ballet, which was revised during the first rehearsal (after the two suites had been made) to reduce the orchestral weight. Many conductors also create their own preferred suite, drawing from the three Prokofiev himself made. Cinderella op. 87 (1940-1944) is his finest ballet, classical in format and full-length in scale. The characters are sharply drawn, the flow of melody continuous, the invention of effect, colour and atmosphere on a consistently high level. Above all, Prokofiev identified with and understands the spiritual rather than physical love of the main character, and there are three moods associated with Cinderella in the ballet: the abused, the chaste and pure, and the happy woman in love. The complete ballet, although long, is so fine that it is worth encountering it in its entirety, but there are also three orchestral suites drawn from the ballet (op.107, 108, 109, all 1946), as well as a three sets of piano pieces (op.95, 1942, op.97, 1943, and op. 102, 1944), and an Adagio for cello and piano op.97a (1944). Prokofiev's final ballet was another large-scale work, in four acts with a prologue. The S tone Flower op.118 (1948-1953) reflected his love of the Ural mountains, for its scenario is drawn from Pavel Bazhov's Ural Tales. Danilo wishes to craft a malachite vase as simple and as beautiful as a live flower; he follows the spirit of the stone that he releases, and the ballet follows his adventures, including being shown a wondrous stone flower and being tested for his love of his Katarina. The central theme - wishing to capture simplicity and beauty - is a metaphor for Prokofiev's own compositional desire, and if the ballet does not have the tuneful immediacy of Cinderella, he succeeded in creating a score of clarity and simplicity with a background of folk-song, without being patronising or shallow. For those who already know the earlier ballets, it makes for interesting further exploration; Prokofiev made a short suite of three of the 46 sections, which is occasionally heard.

Two of Prokofiev's operas have achieved widespread recognition, and they could scarcely be more contrasted. Love for Three Oranges op.33 (1919) combines the composer's love for the fantastical and the fairy tale with his enjoyment of irony and satire. Based on a farce by Gozzi, it tells the story of a Prince afflicted by the melancholic humours, who, on laughing at a witch, is cursed - he will not be happy until he falls in love with three oranges and they with him. This he does, aided at one point by the critics in the opera-house boxes rushing on stage to revive the desiccated princess (who was, of course, one of the oranges). The opera satirizes the traditions of Romantic opera, but is exceptionally entertaining in its own right, and its march has become famous. Prokofiev turned some of the music, including the march, into a suite (op.33a, 1924), and although the opera is regularly performed, it is this suite which is more likely to be encountered. War and Peace (1941-1943), based on Tolstoy's epic novel, is now recognized as a masterpiece, but is rarely performed because of its huge scale and the forces required, and any production is a major international event. Its genius lies in the conviction with which it reduces and contains the massive spread of the novel to the operatic stage, and in the expression of both individual and large-scale collective emotions. Prokofiev assumed a knowledge of the novel, and for audiences approaching the reduction to eleven scenes, a basic knowledge of the plot of the novel is helpful. The scenes are divided between those involving more intimate individual relationships and grand-scale panoramas expressing collective concerns, centred around the Battle of Borodino; the action concentrates on the events of 1812, rather than the events of the first part of Tolstoy's novel, but is divided into two parts, peace and war. The score is on a consistently high level of achievement, moving easily from grandeur to intimacy, and its highlights include Prokofiev's integration of the waltz into the general texture, and the famous and stirring aria for the Russian field-marshal Kutuzov, eventually reiterated at the end of the opera by the whole chorus. Prokofiev's other operas are less well-known. Maddalena op. 13 (1911-1913) is a very early work (and had been preceded by five childhood operas). The Gambler op.24 (1915-1917, revised 1927-1928) is based on a story by Dostoyevsky. Much more effective is The Fiery Angel op.37 (1919-1926), based on Bryusov's (autobiographical) novel of passionate, obsessive love, combined with religious fanaticism, the Inquisition, and madness, set in medieval times. Prokofiev latched on to the psychological aspects of the obsession with his music, producing a score in his aggressive, enfant terrible style that is worth encountering for its passionate power, but which fails overall in dramatic and musical structure (unknown to Prokofiev, while composing the opera he was actually living in Paris next door to the woman who inspired the novel). Semyon Kotko op.81 (1939) was an attempt to write an opera about ordinary people for ordinary people, and was based on Katayev's novel about a Ukrainian partisanI, Son of the Working People. The oddest of these operas, The Story of a Real Man op.117 (1947-1948) was another attempt to produce an opera for the common populace, based on a story by Polevoi of an airman who has a leg amputated, but succeeds in returning to action. Both these operas have passages of musical and dramatic interest (the love scene in Semyon Kotko, some of the interactions in the hospital in Story of a Real Man) but both are doomed by their librettos. Perhaps the opera of most interest after the two famous works is Betrothal in a Monastery op.86 (1940, first performance 1946), where Sheridan's comedy of errors (the source is the play The Duenna, and the opera is sometimes known - incorrectly - by that title) suited Prokofiev's gift for ironic humour and perky comedy. The basis of the story, turned into a libretto by Prokofiev's second wife, Mira Mendelssohn, is the old tale of old men desiring to marry young women, and being thwarted by a welter of subterfuges. The style harks back to opera buffa, but with the magic of Prokofiev's orchestral colours and a strong Slavic injection when the setting moves to the monastery of the title. It is a vivid and entertaining work.

Besides these series of works in a specific genre, there are a number of Prokofiev scores that have either become very well known or deserve to be. Chief among these must be Peter and the Wolf op.67 (1936) for narrator and orchestra, which is as perfect a score as he ever wrote, and one of those very rare works of art that appeal in differing ways to both children and adults. A separate instrument is assigned to each of the characters in the simple but resonant story of Peter's capture of a wolf that has been prowling around the farm, thus making the work also a guide to the orchestra. The musical characterization, of both animals and humans, is a delight, but so is that of the action, using the full range of Prokofiev's mastery of bright and direct orchestral colours; the narration has the advantage of being alterable to suit current educational philosophies. Those who enjoy this work might like to explore two delightful, if less brilliant, scores, Summer's Day op.65a (1941, from Music for Children for piano) for orchestra, and Winter Bonfire op.122 (1949) for reciter, boys' chorus and orchestra. The Scythian Suite op.20 (1914-1915) is a reworking of the discarded early ballet A la and Lolly. Clearly under the influence of the `barbaric' elements of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, it takes the orchestral expression of violent primitivism yet further, rolling together touches of exotic orientalism, aggressive ostinati, and dissonant and brilliant orchestral effects. If it lacks the finesse of Stravinsky's ballet it has an exuberance that has ensured it a regular place in the repertoire. Two of Prokofiev's film scores have become regular concert works in their own right. The story of the film Lieutenant Kijé was exactly one to appeal to Prokofiev's sense of fantasy and irony: due to a clerical error the Czar believes in a non-existent lieutenant, so that rather than admit the error, a complete life and death is invented for the fictitious character. Prokofiev's witty and tuneful (if lightweight) response is to be found in the pictorial and brilliantly orchestrated suite that he drew from the film, Lieutenant Kijé op.60 (1934). The work he drew from the 1938 film Alexander Nevsky, telling of the Russian hero of the 13th-century war with Sweden, is very different, for he turned it into a full-scale cantata, Alexander Nevsky op.78 (1939) for mezzo-soprano, chorus and orchestra, which has become one of the best-known of all Russian choral works. It manages to be epic without being bombastic, as well as extending the Russian choral tradition, and at its centre is the famous depiction of the battle on the ice, almost completely orchestral, in which Prokofiev combined his sense of aggressive orchestral colour and motoric rhythms with his lyricism to unforgettable effect. The passage is even more exciting when heard in its original context of the film. In the same mould, and also based on music for an Eisenstein film, is the oratorio I van the Terrible op.116 (1942) for narrator, soloists, chorus and orchestra, successfully arranged into oratorio form by Abram Stasevich. This has sections which rival the earlier film score in power and effect, but is less concise. There are also two particularly effective and little known choral works. The experimental Seven, They are Seven op.30 (1917-1918, revised 1933 and sometimes known as They are Seven) is a brief but explosive work for chorus and orchestra that reflects the contemporary Constructivist movement. The Cantata on the Twentieth Anniversary of the October Revolution op.74 (1937, not to be confused with the completely vacuous Festive Poem for the Thirtieth Anniversary of the October Revolution , op.113, 1947, or the Cantata on the Thirtieth Anniversary of the October Revolution, op.114, 1947) is not at all the Soviet socialist realist hack work one might expect; based on various texts describing the experience of the revolutionary events, it is scored for huge forces, two choruses, military band, accordions, percussion and orchestra. Those who enjoy A lexander Nevsky may care to investigate this work; it has the same direct, urgent impulse.

There are number of smaller-scale works which are also of interest. The attractive Violin Sonata No.2 op.94a (1943-1944) is actually a reworking of the Flute Sonata op.94 (1943), though it has, with its apparently entirely natural and idiomatic violin writing, entirely overshadowed the original. The overall tone is Classical and restrained, the models Haydn and Handel, and it has perhaps found more favour with performers than audiences, for it misses some of the sparkle characteristic of the composer. The Ove rture on Hebrew Themes op.34 (1919) for clarinet, and piano quintet is a compelling and direct score using two Hebrew tunes that are mutated into Prokofiev's own voice; there is an orchestral version, but it is much more effective in chamber form. Of the two string quartets, the String Quartet No.2 op.92 (1941) was influenced by Caucasian folk music, and has a beautiful slow movement.

Prokofiev remained all his life a pianist (touring extensively between 1914 and 1936) and composer, and did not teach. His diary-autobiography of his early life reveals a writer of considerable charm and talent. He died an hour before Stalin; the news was withheld so as not to conflict, an irony he himself would probably have appreciated.

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works include:

- seven symphonies (No.1 Classical)

- Sinfonia-Concertante for cello and orch.; 5 piano concertos; two violin concertos

- 1941, American Overture (original version for 17 instruments), Anniversary Poem, Autumnal Sketches, Divertissement, Dreams, Egyptian Nights, Festive Poem for the Thirtieth Anniversary of the October Revolution , suite Lieutenant Kijé, Ode to the End of the War,Pushkin Poem, Russian Overture, Symphonic March,Symphonic Song, Scythian Suite, The Volga Meets the Don and Waltzes for orch.; numerous suites from the ballets for orch.

- solo violin sonata; 2 violin sonatas; sonata for two violins; 2 string quartets; oboe quintet; Overture on Hebrew Themes for clarinet and piano quintet (also orch.

- 9 piano sonatas; Sarcasms, Things in Themselves, Thoughts, Music for Children, Visions Fugitives and other piano music, including piano suites from the ballets Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet

- Five Poems by Akhmatova, The Ugly Duckling and other song cycles for voice and piano

- cantatas Alexander Nevsky,Cantata on the Twentieth Anniversary of the October Revolution,Cantata on the Thirtieth Anniversary of the October Revolution,Seven They are Seven, To Stalin, and The Unknown Boy; oratorio On Guard for Peace; choral suite Winter Bonfire for boys chorus and orch., and other works for chorus and orch.

- ballets Chout (also known as The Buffoon),Cinderella, On the Dnieper, Pas d'acier,The Prodigal Son, Romeo and Juliet and The Stone Flower; many suites and other arrangements from the ballets

- operas Betrothed in a Monastery, The Fiery Angel,The Gambler, Love for Three Oranges, Maddalena,Semyon Kotko, The Story of a Real Man, and War and Peace

- film music, notably Ivan the Terrible, and incidental music

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recommended works:

cantata Alexander Nevsky (1939)

opera Betrothal in a Monastery op.86 (1940)

ballet Cinderella (1940-1944)

suite Lieutenant Kijé (1934) for orchestra

opera The Love for Three Oranges (1919)

Overture on Hebrew Themes (1919) for chamber ensemble

Peter and the Wolf (1936) for narrator and orchestra

Piano Concerto No.1 (1911-1912)

Piano Concerto No.2 (1924-1925)

Piano Concerto No.3 (1928)

Piano Sonata No.3 (1917)

Piano Sonata No.5 (1923, revised 1952-1953)

Piano Sonata No.6 (1939-1940)

Piano Sonata No.7 (1939-1942)

Piano Sonata No.8 (1939-1944)

Piano Sonata No.9 (1941)

ballet Romeo and Juliet (1935-1936)

Sarcasms (1912-1914) for piano

Scythian Suite (1915) for orchestra

Symphony No.1 (1916-1917)

Symphony No.7 (1951-1952)

Symphony No.6 (1945-1947)

Symphony No.5 (1931-1932)

Symphony No.4 (1929-1930)

cantata They are Seven (1917-1918) for soloists and orchestra

song cycle The Ugly Duckling (1914)

Violin Concerto No.1 (1916-1917)

Violin Concerto No.2 (1935)

Visions fugitives (1915-1917) for piano

opera War and Peace (1941-1943)

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bibliography:

Prokofiev, S. Diary 1927 and other writings, London, 1991

E. & L. Hanson Prokofiev, New York, 1964

H. Robinson Sergei Prokofiev, New York, 1987

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RACHMANINOV Sergei Vassilievich

born 1st April 1873 Oneg estate, near Novgorod

died 28th March 1943 at Beverley Hills

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Almost all who compose largely in the styles and idioms of the preceding generation are doomed, at most, to a passing fame. They fail to reflect the potency and concerns of their own age, and almost inevitably lack the depth of understanding of their predecessors. However, once in a while an artist appears who is incapable of working in any other idiom than those of an earlier generation, and yet has the genius to infuse something new into that idiom. Sergei Rachmaninov was just such a genius. He was for much of the century reviled because his style, especially in his piano works, seemed to belong more to the age of Tchaikovsky than to the era in which he worked (and certainly could not be associated with any of the moods of European events after 1905).

Rachmaninov's works fall into fairly distinct periods separated by near silences through force of circumstance and his arduous tours as one of the foremost pianists of his day. His earlier music was especially influenced by Tchaikovsky and Chopin, culminating in the Symphony No.1 (c.1895-1897). The success of the Pi ano Concerto No.2 (1900-1901) heralded his most productive years, with a spate of works until 1917 that reflected his mature, nostalgic idiom of haunting beauty. From 1927 until his death he produced six major works where the nostalgia is replaced by a more rugged and positive beauty. His appeal is founded on a melodiousness whose main features are nostalgia and beautiful regrets, wrapped in languishing cadences; all his symphonies and piano concertos are in minor keys. This basic appeal to sentiment (much less overt in the last works) has infuriated some critics, and his treatment until recently has often been shabby. For such sentiment is a perfectly valid aspect of the human experience, and it was Rachmaninov's singular achievement to express it in musical structures and idioms that are never trite and usually exceptionally accomplished. Against a strong streak of melancholy and a nostalgic regret for things past is set a desire for more powerful and positive utterance, and this basic struggle of Rachmaninov's personality provides an undercurrent to much of his music. It is this substratum that makes Rachmaninov much more than a spinner of beautiful, sentimental tunes in long cantabile lines, often with brilliant virtuoso pianistic effects.

His earliest works, such as the misnamed `Youth' Symphony (1891, probably intended as the first movement of an abandoned symphony), show a precocious technical command and musical imagination. They are heavily influenced by Tchaikovsky, and in the piano music by Chopin, though the finest of them, Prince Rostislav (1891) is a graphic tone-painting in the manner of Borodin, based on a ballad by A.K.Tolstoy. The form is tripartite (slow-fast-slow), and the misty waterscape of the opening especially atmospheric. Rachmaninov reached symphonic maturity with the Symphony No.1 (1895-1897), but he was so disillusioned with the reception of the first performance, apparently appallingly conducted by Glazunov, that he destroyed the score. However the parts survived, and the symphony was reconstructed and heard again in 1945. It emerged as one of Rachmaninov's finest works, heroic in tone, obviously indebted to Tchaikovsky and Borodin, but constructed with a flow of symphonic purpose and devoid of the kind of nostalgic limpid beauty that pervades his later work. The slow movement has real menace to its opening, before evolving into an almost Mahlerian intensity and scope, the finale that Russian blaze of uplifting glory, combined with a darker dramatic urgency, that was the inheritance of Tchaikovsky. With its Russian colours and sound and epic late-Romantic scale, it achieves what Glazunov's own symphonies so often attempted and failed. However, it does belong to the late 19th century, and it may appeal more to those with a love for pre-Soviet Russian music rather than those who enjoy Rachmaninov's later works. The Symphony No.2 op.27 (1907) is highly attractive and popular, but lacks the symphonic and emotional muscle of the first. The melodies are long and sentimental; the big, broad opening with yearning strings supported by a more rugged bass, and the lovely slow movement are most effective, but the brash close lacks incision. The Symphony No.3 (1935-1936) seems intended to have a brighter, more positive outlook, but the underground struggle with Rachmaninov's instinctive melancholia keeps threatening, especially in the last of three movements, where the emotional changes are swift and turbulent, with the hint of a Prokofievian mawkish march, and a descent almost into pathos in the penultimate bars. The broad cantabile melody of the slow movement haunts the memory long after the symphony has finished. Finer than any of these symphonies, but not nearly so well-known, is the symphonic poem The Isle of the Dead (1909). It was inspired by a painting by Böcklin, and in resonant dark colours and rocking and swelling tone-painting brilliantly creates an atmosphere of a slow crossing to the dark, mist-shrouded and mysterious island of the painting. It captures a combination of sea-scape and dream picture, perfectly judged in its form and effect, impelled from the lower depths of the orchestra, suggesting the silence and desolation, and interweaving the plain chant Dies Irae that became a recurring theme in Rachmaninov's music.

The Piano Concerto No.1 op.1 (1891, revised 1917) has, at least in its revised form, so many beautiful ideas in the bitter-sweet melodic style at which Rachmaninov so excelled, soaked in a sad nostalgia, that it is surprising that it is not better known. It carries with it a certain portentousness (especially in the very opening), where the student is attempting to emulate Tchaikovsky, but also a misty, rather restrained slow movement, and a youthful boisterousness in the final movement unmatched in Rachmaninov's later works. The Pia no Concerto No.2 (1900-1901) scarcely needs any introduction, as it is one of the best-known works of all classical music, with its opening of expectation breaking out into flowing melody, its haunting slow movement of beauty lost and gained, its glittering and brilliant finale, its virtuoso solo writing, and its general quality of the piano telling a tale (with, throughout, storytelling's rhythmic flow). It was one of the earliest examples of the success of psychoanalysis. Rachmaninov found it impossible to compose after the failure of his Sym phony No.1, and sought treatment with the early Freudian Dr. Nikolai Dahl; the concerto was the result. Much of its appeal is a combination of the sparkle of the solo writing and the allure of its sentiment. The Piano Concerto No.3 (1909) marks a new phase in Rachmaninov's writing where the emotion is more deeply imbedded in the music, just as the solo writing is more integrated with the orchestra. The finest of his concertos, it has a linear impulse, announced in the strolling rhythm and gentle insinuation of the opening (of such contrast to the grand 19th-century concerto opening), that is maintained throughout the piece and made all the more cohesive by thematic interrelations between the three movements. The orchestra and soloist do not compete, but rather support each other in the discourse, even when, in the middle movement of forcefulness rather than limpid beauty, the complex piano writing sets up a dominating tapestry. It is a work of complex and mature emotions, none stated starkly but rather eliding into each other, culminating in a kind of joyous satisfaction; it is also an exceedingly difficult work for the soloist, in part because Rachmaninov had a huge hand-span, and wrote accordingly. The concerto is sometimes heard with cuts sanctioned by the composer, but these are unnecessary. The rather diffuse Pia no Concerto No.4 (1926) has never achieved the popularity of the earlier works. It seems to be searching for a style, and rather unexpectedly it is the sparkling finale that contains the most attractive music. No such problems occur with Rachmaninov's last work for piano and orchestra, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934). The theme had already been used by Brahms, Liszt and Schumann, but Rachmaninov's is the most brilliant and satisfying treatment, in twenty-five variations with the theme stated in full after the first variation. The piano writing is brilliant and virtuoso, while range of emotional mood and colour is considerable, from grand power to the percussive Variation IX or the broken, almost pointillistic orchestration of Variation XVI. The Dies Irae plainchant threads through the work, and there is a glorious moment where a new treatment suddenly appears, as if out of nowhere, in Variation XVIII, Rachmaninov returning to his style of melodious beauty, capped by the scintillating spin of strings that follows.

The most powerful expression of Rachmaninov's pianistic imagination is to be found in the Twenty-Four Preludes for piano. This set consist of three groups: the famous C sharp minor Prelude (originally the second of the Morceaux de fantasie op.3, 1892); the Ten Preludes op.23 (1903); and the Thir teen Preludes op.32 (1910), which Rachmaninov decided to write to make a complete set of works, each in a different key, following Chopin. The C? minor Prelude allows a slow, almost cumbersome and very Russian tune to take flight. The op.23 Preludes are in the best tradition of such works, direct thoughts that simultaneously make statements about pianism and about inner emotions, influenced by Chopin, especially in the revolutionary atmosphere of No.5, and ranging from the heroic utterance of No.2, through the rippling flow of semi-quavers in No.8, to the unsettling lilt of No.9. The Op.32 set are more circumspect, exploratory and elusive, as if taking up an insubstantial element absent from the earlier preludes. The rhythms are more unsettled and shifting, and when characteristic melodies appear, as in No.9, they are encased in more complex surroundings. Op.32 No.10, one of the finest of the set, was inspired by another Böcklin painting, and the last turns the key of the C? minor Prelude into a euphoric D flat major. Of his other piano works, the most effective writing is found in the two sets of Études tableaux (1911 and 1916-1917) and the Piano Sonata No.2 (1913). After an inauspicious opening, the Cello Sonata (1900) is a fine, large-scale work with a delicate, withdrawn beauty even in the vigorous scherzo. In the lifts to moments of passion, the often florid piano writing impels the cello; the slow movement is more outward-looking and less limpid than one might expect for a work that followed the Piano Concerto No.2.

Rachmaninov's songs are yearningly melodious, equally effective in the piano versions or with the added colours of orchestration. Vocal lines are lyrical and flowing, sometimes ecstatically so; the accompaniment of the earlier songs looks back to Chopin, and is more integrated and individual in the later. If not usually profound, they are often exceptionally beautiful, and the major songs (such as How Fair this Spot, op.21 No.7, Lilacs op.21 No.5, orO Cease Thy Singing op.4 No.4, c.1890, or the glorious Spring Waters op.14 No.11, 1896) have become standards of the repertoire. The wordless Vocalise op.34 No.14 (1912) for soprano and piano is usually heard with its orchestral accompaniment, a sinuous nostalgic outpouring touched with melancholy; Rachmaninov made an orchestral version, assigning the vocal line to the violins. Rachmaninov also wrote three choral masterpieces, two of which are largely neglected. Kolokola (The Bells, 1913) for soprano, tenor, baritone, chorus and orchestra, is a large-scale, symphonically organized work based on an adaptation by Belmont of Edgar Allen Poe. In the first movement the bells are the jingle bells of sleighs, associated with birth and youth, in the second bells of marriage, in the third of terror and fire, and in the finale death, but death as a culmination, with a luminosity reminiscent of Strauss. This cycle of birth and death has a strong undercurrent of the Russian countryside and folk-music (especially in the rhythms of the last movement), but placed in sophisticated vocal and orchestral writing with an urgent energy and rich colours. As magnificent is the almost unknown Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom (1910) for unaccompanied choir. As in Tchaikovsky's earlier setting, there is little that is immediately recognizable as the composer's style, but instead a marvellous combination of Orthodox Church choral sound and modes, strong suggestions of Russian folk songs with their vistas of vast Russian landscapes, and complex choral writing with sonorous bass lines. The Vesper Mass (1915) follows a similar style.

Rachmaninov left Russia after the 1917 revolution, eventually settling in Switzerland, and moved to the U.S.A. in 1939.

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works include:

- 3 symphonies

- 4 piano concertos; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orch.

- Caprice bohémien, The Isle of the Dead and The Rock for orch.

- cello sonata; Elegiac Trio for piano trio; string quintet and other chamber music

- 2 piano sonatas; 2 sets of Études tableaux,Moments musicaux, Morceaux de fantasie,Ten Preludes, Thirteen Preludes,Variations on a Theme of Chopin andVariations on a Theme of Corelli for piano; Fantasie-tableaux and Suite No.2 for 2 pianos

- 77 songs

- cantata Spring; The Bells for soloists, chorus and orch.; Three Russian Songs for chorus and orch.; Liturgy of St.John Chrysostom and Night Vigil for chorus

- operas Aleko, Francesca da Rimini and The Miserly Knight

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recommended works:

Cello Sonata op.19 (1901)

tone poem The Isle of the Dead op.29 (1909)

Liturgy of St.John Chrysostom (1910) for chorus

Piano Concerto No.1 op.1 (1891 rev 1917)

Piano Concerto No.2 op.18 (1901)

Piano Concerto No.3 op.30 (1909)

Preludes op.3 (1892) for piano

Preludes op.23 (1904) for piano

Preludes op.32 (1910)for piano

tone poem Prince Rostislav (1891)

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini op.43 (1934) for piano and orchestra

Symphony No.1 op.13 (1895-1897)

Symphony No.2 op.27 (1907)

Symphony No.3 op.44 (1936)

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bibliography:

G.Norris Rakhmaninov, 1976

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SCHNITTKE Alfred Harrievich (also spelled Schnitke, Shnitke)

born 24th November 1934 at Engels

died 3rd August 1998 at Hamburg ---------------------------------------

Schnittke emerged as one of the major composers of the late 20th century, and perhaps the finest of the Russian composers in the generation after Shostakovich. Hardly known in the West until the 1970s, his achievement received rapid recognition after the collapse of hard-line Communism in the U.S.S.R. He composed within the tradition of symphonies, concertos, and chamber and vocal works, and there is a tonal base to his idiom, overlaid with the experience of 12-tone techniques, chromatic effects, and regularly a deliberate addition of a distant note or notes to give an ethereal, unsettled feel to what otherwise might be a conventional harmony. His eclecticism is legendary, borrowing from a multitude of musical sources, but is an integral part of his musical inspiration and method, firmly locked in to his own idiom. Usually such stylistic borrowings create a launch-pad from which his own music can take off, but sometimes they have allusive effects, such as the appearance of an idea from Britten's Billy Budd in the Symphony No.3, where a potent message is encrypted if one knows the words of the original chorus. Almost all his later works open and close with a quiet expressiveness or contemplation within which there is turbulent, often tragic drama.

Schnittke's earlier music followed conventional Soviet principles, and his later output includes over 60 film scores. However, following a visit by Nono to Moscow in 1962, he absorbed many of the techniques of the European developments of the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in the handling of dissonances, in the use of orchestral colours and sonorities (with bells and tuned percussion often prominent, and a harpsichord or celesta often woven into the texture), and in the juxtaposition of massed orchestral blocks of colour and timbre. After a period of serialism, which included the St ring Quartet No.1 (1966), and the development of collages that made reference to older musics, his idiom emerged in the mid-1970s in the mainstream of European composition. One strand of that idiom has explored a spare, lean, slow-moving, often ritualistic sound, relying on changes of sonorities, not dissimilar to that of rt. Another presents a larger, more monumental sound, sometimes emphasized by the contrast between urgent, driving counterpoint and more static blocks. A regular device is that of lines moving upward in steps, often cut away without resolution. In many of his later works, these two strands of his idiom are combined (most prominently in the C oncerto for Piano and Strings), and there is often a sense of distancing or alienation, as if the music was heard from far away through a distorting veil. Suggestions of earlier musics, like a half-triggered recall, continue to seep into his later works, but they are fully integrated into the contemporary idiom. His music, often dramatic in cast, presents an emotional impact and appeal in the Russian tradition, intended to reflect the human condition; the intellectual construct, although often formidable, is secondary to this drive. Again in common with Pärt, his music embraces a strong religious feel and outlook, and one of his favourite devices is an ending of ethereal beauty.

The most widely circulated work that includes synthesis of old musics is the Concerto Grosso No.1 (1976-1977) for two violins, strings, cembalo, and prepared piano. Built on an infectious pastiche of lively Baroque music, the underlying material is subjected to contemporary instrumental textures and transformations to give it an anachronistic gloss. Such refocusing of earlier material is quite widespread in modern music, but this particular example has a verve and sense of aural humour that ensures it is full of incident and entertainment. The `musical game' Moz-Art à la Haydn (1977) for two violins, two small chamber orchestras, double bass and conductor, is derived from music Mozart wrote for a pantomime, of which only the violin part survives. Various events (including sudden lighting changes) ensue, until the ending emulates that of Haydn's `Farewell' symphony. A later example is (K)ein Sommernachstraum ((Not) a Midsummer Night's Dream, 1985), which uses pastiche Mozartian and Schubertian tunes.

Schnittke's Symphony No.1 (1969-1972) pitted tonal against atonal elements, in an exploration of the continuing viability of the medium of the symphony. Something of that questioning of the possibilities still open to the symphonist survives in the Sym phony No.3 (1981), with part of the answer being an eclecticism of material, aural allusion, and pictorialism, that had been initiated by Mahler. A shimmering mass of glittering sonority opens the symphony, three times gaining in intensity to a mighty climax, in a kind of 20th-century equivalent to the opening of Wagner's Das Rheingold. Overtones build up, and then break away to form new overtones; the actual material of this study in sonority is derived from the monograms of over thirty German composers. This stunning first movement of considerable orchestral virtuosity acts as an introduction to the succeeding three, laid out in conventional form. The following allegro in sonata form has strong echoes of Shostakovich in its perky, waltz-like material, before moving into a typical counter-theme founded on scurrying ostinato strings; its climax includes an organ, and towards the end of the movement a piano is heard playing Mozart, as if from a far nostalgic distance, both in space and time. The short scherzo starts demurely, a kind of Prokofievian march overlaid with unusual orchestral colours, but it wanders into odder, more disturbed regions and a huge and menacing mechanism. It leads straight into the large, silent wastelands of the opening (for strings alone) of the final movement, following the example of the slow movement of Shostakovich's fifth symphony. This adagio finale is the longest movement of the work, aiming towards an ending that combines triumph with uncertainty before a peaceful close complete with bells.

The Symphony No.4 (1984) for piano, vocal soloists, choir and chamber orchestra is an odd work, both in symphonic layout and overall effect. Constructed in one movement divided into seven sections, it has a programmatic content: its inspiration is that of the Catholic rosary, and its relationship to the life of Christ (seen through Mary's eyes). Themes composed of tetrachords represent the Catholic, the Orthodox, and the Lutheran faiths, and a three-note theme represents ancient chant; all are brought together in the final chorus. None of this programme is necessary for the enjoyment of the work, which succeeds in purely abstract terms, though its liturgical origins are suggested by the overall tone. The second section is for piano alone, joined by the tenor; apart from a wordless counter-tenor vocalise, the other vocal forces appear only in the delicate and beautiful final section, with an archaic quality to a chant that builds in complexity, adding layers to reach a luminous climax and the sounding of bells that slowly die away. The symphony juxtaposes Schnittke's spare, austere style, as in the bell sonorities of the orchestra against piano and harpsichord in the opening, with his large-scale assertive utterances. The melodic material is often of gentle, slow-moving simplicity matched by the orchestral colours, but overlaid with harmonies that have the effect of distancing that simplicity. This strange but moving work, one feels, belongs in the cathedral rather than the concert hall. The Symphony No.5 (1988) also bears the title Conc erto Grosso No.4, the juxtaposition suggesting its general tone, with a metamorphosis of the Baroque style complete with an intermittent harpsichord continuo. The material of the second movement is based on the unfinished second movement of Mahler's early piano quartet. With its raucous climaxes and solo violin writing in the style of earlier Stravinsky, it has some interest as a concerto grosso, but as a symphony its grander vision seems too calculated.

Concertos form a major strand in Schnittke's output. The short Concerto for Oboe Harp and Strings (1971) has a typical quiet opening and close to its single arch movement. Funereal in tone, serial in style, it lacks the impact of many of Schnittke's other works. The piano concertos are unnumbered. The Piano Concerto (1960) is for piano and large orchestra, the second is titled Music for Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1964), and the one-movement third is titled Concerto for Piano and Strings (1979). In the last, material based on Russian Church music intertwines with that based on a 12-tone row, and the main theme is not stated in its entirety until the end. The solo line has ruminative, almost doodling moments, contrasting with virtuoso and extrovert effects (including massed clusters on the keyboard). Its series of attractive and sometimes violent incidents have echoes of (and one short quote from) Shost akovich, and also recall, in some of the more barbaric piano moments, Prokofiev, though the overall effect is Schnittke's alone.

The Violin Concerto No.3 (1978) for violin, nine winds, four brass and strings, one of Schnittke's finest works, dispenses with traditional development, although the three movements roughly correspond to a condensed sonata form. Instead there is a sense of linear flow evolving as the events require, propelled by the solo line: the violin acts not as a virtuoso soloist, but as a kind of continuous and expressive emotional thread running through the more broken orchestral contribution. The material almost always suggests a tonal axis, but this is skewed by the accretion of a multiplicity of styles, totally integrated into the flow: 12-tone, serialism, and micro-tonal variations (especially in the solo line). The concerto opens with a long solo, gradually joined by the winds and brass. The middle movement is more raucous, using the panoply of atonal and serial techniques, from under which suddenly emerges, in complete contrast, a quiet Dvorák-like tune, developed by the violin. It ends quietly and contemplatively. This is a concerto of many shifting moods, but whose continuity of expressive purpose is continually supported by the solo writing, as if the character underlying the emotional changes remains constant. The Viola Concerto (1985) is perhaps even more impressive, with solo line that veers between the lyrically soaring and rushing passages menaced by the orchestral writing. The mawkish, Mahlerian second movement has haunting colours in the orchestration and one terrifying outburst. The ending is reminiscent of the ending of Shostakovich's fourth symphony, almost suggesting a tribute. There is a threatening air to this work, as if lyrical beauty was in danger of being stamped underfoot; this proved prophetic, as Schnittke suffered a serious heart attack on completing it.

The central concept of the Cello Concerto No.1 (1985-1986), from the explosive orchestral outburst that crashes in on the quiet and lyrical opening, is of the individual (the soloist) faced with his or her surroundings (the orchestra). The emotional conflict between the song-like solo line and an orchestra that looms over it gradually evolves into the soloist seeking answers to the relationship. The second movement is lyrical and contemplative, until it moves into an unsettled climactic close, as if this path did not provide the answers for the soloist. The short third movement is a mawkish march, reminiscent of Shosta kovich, with the soloist and orchestra acting in concert, until this compromise reaches a violent, dissonant and inconclusive climax in which material from the second movement intrudes. In the final movement, building on these experiences, the soloist finds a solution as the lyrical, hymn-like cello line is gradually joined by the orchestra for a massive hymn of praise and understanding. Apart from its intrinsic impact, the concerto is also of interest in that its basis - the struggle of the hero leading to an optimistic end - is essentially that of the ideal Soviet Socialist symphonic construction, though here the ends are entirely philosophical rather than political, without musical bombast or trace of ideology.

Besides the symphonies, there are a number of works for large orchestra. Pianissimo (1967-1968) is for a very large orchestra, including electric guitar and two pianos. Constructed as twelve intermeshed variations, and using a tone row only stated in its entirety at the end, it reflects Schnittke's exploration of European avant-garde techniques in its study of rising crescendos and the massing of sonorities. R itual (1984-1985), dedicated to the victims of the Second World War, is a short work of commemoration, half joyously expectant, half-dirge, concentrating on sonorities, with a long, delicate and memorable close of high bells. The slow-moving, thick textured undulations of sonorities in the Passacaglia (1985) were inspired by a wonderment at nature, and particularly nature expressed by the sea, caught in the great swell of a crescendo of a storm.

String quartets form the heart of Schnittke's chamber output. The String Quartet No.1 (1966) is a 12-tone work, concentrating on atmospherical string sonorities. It uses the device of a melodic line being slightly modified by the different instruments, each set slightly offset in time, giving an improvisatory feel. Its opening, sounding like the cries of a pod of beached whales, is particularly effective. Atmospheric high harmonics launch the tense, tragic mood of the S tring Quartet No.2 (1980), whose material is derived from ancient Russian church song. It is an intense work full of dramatic action, regularly creating choral sounds, from the rushing chords of the opening movement to the icy alienation of the beginning of the slow third movement. Changes of string colour and tonal base shift with great rapidity, and the offset repetition of lines is again used. The quartet was written following the death of a friend, and the urgency of tragic expression, combined with a philosophical questioning in the distortion of the church material, permeates this emotive work, which ends in a fashion as extraordinary as its opening. The three movement String Quartet No.3 (1983) is more contemplative, though it is not without its dramatic moments. It opens with a quiet, hymn-like effect, quoting from Lasso, Beethoven, and Shostakovich's initials motto (D-E flat-C-B, or in German DSCH) to provide the basic material and three different moods. Schnittke uses a technique he developed in the 1980s of material that seems to be leading somewhere, and then collapsing, and again employs rising steps. The quartet has a wistful, distant feel, offset by rigorous passages of driving counterpoint. The Pi ano Quintet (1972-1976) was written following the death of the composer's mother, and is one of his most tragically expressive works. The second movement includes a waltz, grotesquely manipulated, based on the motto B-A-C-H, and the last movement is a mirror image passacaglia. Schnittke orchestrated the Quintet in 1978, titling it In Memoriam, and this version uses all Schnittke's considerable power of orchestration (including an organ), in which the waltz, against a cluster of rising strings, has especial menace. The result is virtually a new work, for the impacts of the two versions do differ: spare, elegiac, heart-felt in the chamber guise, powerful, more extrovert and with a greater range of timbre in the orchestral. The Vi olin Sonata No.2 ("quasi una sonata", 1968), which also uses the BACH motto in its single movement design, was similarly orchestrated for violin and chamber orchestra in 1987. Full of tense incident punctuated by silences, it again reflects Schnittke's period of avant-garde exploration, as well as the influence of Stravinsky. The Cello Sonata (1978), in three linked movements, is large-scale in design and intent, more conventional in its material. The cello and piano have equal weight in their own right, rather like two separate explorers pursing the same geographic goal in parallel, independently traversing the same terrains. The stark Prelude to the Memory of Dmitri Shostakovich (1975) for two violins uses the DSCH motto, with one violin intended to be played behind a screen with amplification, or pre-recorded.

Schnittke's vocal music sometimes shows the influence of Orff, in the ostinato orchestral accompaniments and in the choral writing. The Requiem (1974-1975) for soloists, chorus, organ and instruments is in his sparser, more ritualistic style, though it includes a jazzy section in the `Credo'. Noteworthy is the `Tuba Mirum', a monotone chant influenced by Eastern musics, against extraordinary and menacing instrumental sonorities. The Fau st Cantata (1982-1983) for soloists, chorus and orchestra, based on Goethe, arose from ideas from a projected opera. It is more dramatic and more immediate than the Requiem, telling the story of the final moments of Faust's life as he is taken by the devil on the stroke of midnight, and the influence of Orff, obvious in the opening, extends to a monumental contralto tango solo. The opera Life with an Idiot (1990-1991) is more problematic. Based on the novel by Victor Erofeyev, and with a libretto by the author, it is a grotesque story in the tradition of Shostakovich's The Nose, with allegories of dictatorship and communism, and a theme of the distortion between reality and madness. It is also extremely violent. A couple, as punishment, have to take an idiot into their home; he despoils their kitchen with his ablutions, and the wife has an affair with him. The husband then takes the sexual place of the wife, as madness overtakes them all, and the idiot eventually decapitates the wife. The context in which the violence against women is placed is disturbing, because it is partly glorified. In addition, the opera suffers from the literary brilliance of its text, where much of the action is reported speech; consequently the results sometimes have elements of the dramatic oratorio, however much dressed up by stage action, and one feels a potentially much better opera lurks behind this one. Schnittke's setting is full of parody and grotesquerie.

Schnittke's music is not immediately recognizable by its melodic material, in the manner of Prokofiev or Shostakovich, and the use of many earlier styles within a contemporary framework might suggest a lack of that individuality which has always marked the best composers. But Schnittke's style concentrates on sonorities and colours rather than melodic line, and familiarity soon allows recognition of his very particular voice. The interweaving of earlier musics - polystylism - is an integral part of that vision, linking it to the inheritance of the past that any modern composer carries. Schnittke was essentially a Romantic composer, and not merely because he returned to the tonal base of neo-Romanticism. He himself suggested his music was an attempt to express his inner sonic or visual visions, and throughout there is a suggestion of the struggle between conflicting forces of the human condition, and an exploration of the conflicts inherent in the natural forces working on the human condition, that belong to a Romantic outlook. He combined this with, ultimately, a sense of optimism (and of beauty) that often permeates the final pages of his scores, and which is unusual for contemporary composers; but that optimism is never bland, because of the struggles that have preceded it. His powers of orchestration and of formal design support the expressive intent: he combined the Romantic musical tradition with many of the expressive device of the European avant-garde, to ensure that his music both lives within a tradition and extends it.

Schnittke taught at the Moscow Conservatory from 1961 to 1972, and from 1972 at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory.

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works include:

- 5 symphonies (No.2 with chorus, No.4 with soloists and chorus, No.5 also the Concerto Grosso No.4, see text)

- 4 Concerto Grosso (No.4 also the Symphony No.5, see text), In Memoriam (from piano quintet),(K)ein Sommernachtstraum, Moz-Art à la Hadyn, Passacaglia, Pianissimo and Ritual for orch.

- 2 cello concertos; concerto for oboe, harp and strings; 3 unnumbered piano concertos (No.1 for piano and large orch., No.2 Music for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, No.3 for piano and chamber orch.); viola concerto; 4 violin concertos

- A Paganini for solo violin; cello sonata; 2 violin sonatas (No.2 quasi una sonata; Sonata (in the Old Style) for violin and piano; In Memoriam DSCH; 3 string quartets; piano quintet (orchestrated as In Memoriam)

- Faust Cantata for soloists, chorus and orch.; cantata Nagasaki; Requiem

- ballet Peer Gynt

- opera Life with an Idiot

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recommended works:

Cello Concerto No.1 (1985-1986)

Concerto Grosso No.1 (1976-1977)

In Memoriam (1978) for orchestra (from Piano Quintet)

Piano Quintet (1972-1976)

Ritual (1984-1985) for large orchestra

String Quartet No.2 (1980)

Symphony No.3 (1981)

Viola Concerto (1985)

Violin Concerto No.3 (1978)

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SCRIABIN (also spelled SKRYABIN) Alexander Nikolaievich

born 6th January 1872 at Moscow

died 27th April 1915 at Moscow

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Scriabin was a brief comet flaring in the musical sky, scattering remnants of his trail after him but leaving little lasting impression. He was emblematic of his age, steeped in theosophy and mysticism, possessed by the kind of sensuous grand fin-de-siècle vision that was snuffed out by the First World War, a compositional equivalent of the French novelist Huysmans, and throughout his output reflecting an aesthetic that belongs to the late 19th century rather than the 20th. Musically, it is also debatable whether his idiom belongs to the 20th century, as it represents the last flare-up of Lisztian Romanticism, tottering in its massed chromaticism on the edge of entering a new harmonic world, but harnessed by the voluptuousness of late 19th-century pianism.

However, certain aspects of Scriabin's harmonic development herald 20th-century usage, though in very different contexts. Scriabin's developments of Lisztian Romanticism include an interest in the system of harmonic overtones, building chords on the natural sequence. This led to massive chromaticism and the abandonment of key-signatures in his work. Perhaps his most important hallmark was the development of chords based on the interval of the fourth (as opposed to the traditional tonal interval of the third), anticipating a common feature of later 20th-century music. The whole-tone scale appears in his later works.

His works divide into eight for orchestral forces and a mass of piano music, of which the most important are the fifteen sets of Pre ludes (1888-1914) and the extraordinary series of ten piano sonatas. Of the former, the Piano Concerto op.20 (1896) is a highly-charged late-Romantic work over-teeming with pianistic effect, of interest for its affinities to the music of his fellow-studentRachmaninov. The Sy mphony No.1 op.26 (1899-1900) uses a chorus in the finale, but it is the last three orchestral works that are of chief interest. By this period, Scriabin was striving for a mystical expression of a vision of the cosmos in which the inner emotions and the outer ecstatic glory are joined; his intent was to so move the audience that they would share in this metaphysical ecstasy. The Symphony No.3 `The Divine Poem' op.43 (1902-1904) is a surging tone-poem in three sections (`Struggles', `Sensual Pleasures' and `Divine Joy') played continuously. The glimpses of the divine are heard through swirling mists, broken into by woodwind cries or blasts from the brass, the whole building from the quiet of the opening to rolling climaxes, ridden with late-Romantic tension. Le poème de l'extase op.54 (Poem of Ecstasy, 1905-1908) for orchestra has a philosophical programme of heady, orgiastic voluptuousness with music to match, and the summit of his atmospheric mysticism is reached in Prométhée, le poème de feu op.60 ( Prometheus, the Poem of Fire, 1908-1910) for orchestra, chorus and colour organ, an instrument designed to provide different lights and colours for different notes, and their combinations, to match the music.

Scriabin's most valuable legacy is to be found in the piano sonatas. The Piano Sonata No.1 op.6 (1891) is a large late-Romantic work in four movements, each unusually in the same key, joined by a recurring motto phrase. The Piano Sonata No.3 (1897) is essentially a tone-poem, as if contemplating the ruined castle that is supposed to have inspired the work. The slow movement suggests overgrown trees on the banks of the moat, and the last has something of the atmosphere of Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead. From the turn of the century Scriabin started to develop his mature piano style: here ruminative, sometimes almost formless wisps of idea expand into a more emphatic mystical and emotional message, a pianistic Northern Lights pulsating and shimmering, changing shape and colour, spinning off into new subsidiary formations, the whole always launching high into the stratosphere with the suggestion and promise of the mystery beyond. The ruminative, almost disjointed opening of the P iano Sonata No.4 op.30 (1899-1903), in two movements played without a break, flutters into action and eventual climax. In spite of the use of fourths, the fourth sonata keeps one foot in Scriabin's earlier style; he pulls it away in the upward chromatic swirl and subsequent disembodied bare rumination of the Piano Sonata No.5 op.53 (1907), in one movement. Its almost Impressionistic moments, a feature of Scriabin's later piano music, are created by the absence of a sense of recognizable pulse and by wisps of idea meandering out of the central core. The Piano Sonata No.6 op.62 (1911) draws the listener into a mysterious inner world; the Piano Sonata No.7 `White Mass' op.64 (1911) turns that inner world into a rite of violent fervour, while the Piano Sonata No.9 `Black Mass' op.68 (1912-1913) creates an almost nebulous world alternating between nervous, disjointed energy and evanescent lyricism, though it is not as dark or furious as its name (coined by Scriabin's friend Alexander Podgaetsky) might suggest. By this sonata the piano writing appears almost totally fluid, reaching its culmination in the luminous Piano Sonata No.10 op.70 (1913).

Scriabin's last sets of etudes and preludes are of interest. The T rois études op.65 (1912) cover diminishing extremes of interval spans, a major ninth in the first, like a bright jewel giving off prismatic reflections and dancing light as it slowly turns, a minor seventh in the slow, Impressionistic second, and perfect fifths in the third. The language of the first of the Five Preludes op.74 (1914) is reduced to a bare minimum of dissonant sounds; the subsequent preludes range from a ghostly march to the brief flare of the fifth, as if describing thunderclouds building up and altering shape. Throughout the set, the conjunction of overtones, often left hanging, form a major feature of the music.

At the end of his life, Scriabin was working on a mysterium that would embrace all the art forms in a gigantic work (opening with bells suspended above the Himalayas to start the week-long conception). He had made the briefest of sketches for its `Prefatory Action', which were turned into a full-scale work Universe by Alexander Nemtin (born 1936), which, while containing little Scriabin, is a powerful Scriabinesque work in its own right.

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works include:

- 3 symphonies (No.1 with chorus, No.3 `The Divine Poem')

- piano concerto

- Le poème de l'extase, Symphonic Poem, and Rêverie for orch.; Prométhée, le poème de feu for orch., chorus and colour organ

- 10 piano sonatas (No.7 White Mass, No.9 Black Mass); 3 sets of piano etudes; 2 sets of piano mazurkas; 15 sets of piano preludes; many `poems' for piano, including Satanic Poem Towards the Flame; impromptus, Polonaise, and many other piano pieces

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recommended works:

Symphony No.3 `The Divine Poem' op.43 (1902-1904)

Le poème de l'extase op.54 (Poem of Ecstasy, 1905-1908) for orchestra

Prométhée, le poème de feu op.60 (Prometheus, the Poem of Fire, 1908-1910) for orchestra, chorus and colour organ.

Piano Sonatas 3-10 (1897-1913)

3 Etudes op.65 (1912)5 Preludes op.74 (1914)

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bibliography:

H.Macdonald Scryabin, 1978

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SHCHEDRIN Rodion

born 16th December 1932 at Moscow

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Rodion Shchedrin emerged in the 1960s and the 1970s as the major Soviet composer of the generation following Shosta kovich and Prokofiev in favour with the authorities. He responded with a populist style, suitably spiced with elements of modernism, sufficiently diluted for him to be promoted by the Soviet authorities as an example of their forward-looking musical ideas. At his best, he has displayed a voice of great expertise, especially in orchestration; at his worst, he can infuriate by his eclectic borrowings (including older musics), his half-assimilated modern Western ideas (including serialism), and a general impression of trite surface glitter. Much of this reaction was based on a misapprehension by both the Soviet authorities and the Western critics, for until the 1980s his art was essentially founded on folk-music, especially the wit and play of the form of the `chastushka', a street-song genre based on a kind of limerick or ditty whose particular humour and rhythms have formed a thread through much of his music. To this he wedded classical forms, ranging from a love of Bach to imitations of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, the occasional instrumental playfulness of Stravinsky, and, especially, the melodic shapes and instrumental usage of S hostakovich. Ballet has also been a major influence on his music, and his own ballets have been created for his wife, the ballerina Maya Plisetskaya. However, in the 1980s his music started to take a new direction, shorn of much of the eclecticism, as if with the new freedoms in Russia he could cast off his role as the bright young light of Soviet music, and find a personal voice.

Shchedrin's works of the 1950s passed virtually unnoticed outside the U.S.S.R. The Piano Concerto No.1 (1954) rather ineffectually crossed Rachmaninov with Prokofiev, though it is not Shchedrin's fault that the opening sounds like a variation on the S tar Wars theme; the lively last movement is based on popular songs. The Symphony No.1 (1956-1958) is a big, Soviet-epic work, traditional in its language, tinged with melancholy, that, with its direct, uncluttered orchestration, suggested promise rather than substance; in spite of its symphonic argument, it seems to be constantly flirting with the descriptive idiom of the ballet suite. The ballet The Hunchback Horse (1955) achieved considerable success in the Soviet Union, while the central character of the opera Not Only Love (1961, sometimes known as Not Love Alone), to a libretto by V.Katanyan based on the stories of S.Antonov, is the woman chairperson of a collective farm. The suite from the opera, for soprano and orchestra and which includes the main aria for the soloist, is heavily under the spell of Prokofiev and suffers in the comparison.

Shchedrin came to wider attention through two orchestral works. The Concerto No.1 for Orchestra (1963) subtitled `Ozorni'ye chashtushki' (`Merry Ditties' or `Naughty Limericks'), a glittering showpiece for orchestra that comes perilously close to `light' music, demonstrated Shchedrin's orchestral skill, his perky wit, and the adoption of the `chastushka'. But he achieved international notoriety with the Carmen Ballet (1967), a scintillating orchestration of themes from Bizet's opera that is all glitter, brilliant colours, stunning effect, and little substance when divorced from its stage context, but masterful when seen as a ballet. The scoring is for strings and percussion (or rather percussion, especially tuned percussion, and strings) and the music is such outrageous fun that it should be at least sampled once. The partly atonal Symphony No.2 (1965) suggested an awareness of contemporary musical developments in Poland, while the Piano Concerto No.2 (1966) was again influenced by Prokofiev. Chimes (1968) for orchestra drew inspiration from Russian icons, with quasi-serial elements and the influence of Russian bells. The oratorio Le nin in the People's Heart (1969) included a number of quasi-avant-garde vocal effects, and is historically interesting as the most stylistically extreme of any post-war Soviet cantata on such a fundamental Soviet subject, surprisingly effective in some of its passages but now presumably doomed to oblivion. The ballet An na Karenina (1972) was a major event in Soviet ballet, the adaptation of Tolstoy's novel concentrating on the Anna-Karenin-Volsky love triangle. Divorced from its period staging and often tumultuous story, its music, intentionally aping Tchaikovsky, often seems dull, though the score is suffused with the rhythms and sometimes onomatopoeic sounds of trains, and Bellini is invoked in a scene at the Italian Opera. The non-tonal Piano Concerto No.3 (1973) was built around a theme and variations. In the opera Dead Souls (1977) Shchedrin replaced the violins with choral writing, the staging using multi-level action; the opera was criticised for watering down Gogol's message of the pain and suffering of the Russian people.

In the 1980s Shchedrin developed an orchestral style that is simpler, more personal, but as direct as his earlier works. The works of this period have the stamp of a personal and thoughtful voice, and those new to his idiom, or who are put off by the surface glitter of his earlier music, should turn to these first. The hiccups of modernism are to all intents and purposes abandoned, but while the harmonic language is relatively straightforward, these works are by no means traditional. The orchestral palette is spare; slow swirls of subdued strings usually predominate, broken into by woodwind or brass or the tinkling colours of the celesta. Movement is unhurried, and contrasts are provided by blocks of colour, where Shchedrin carefully uses the overlapping ranges of families of instruments to create homogeneous blends of colours. Shades of Shostakovich and sometimes Mahler still stalk through these scores, but they have been melded in to a more personal voice. The emotional range is not as profound as that of Schnittke, and the spiritual effect cannot match that of P ärt, but they have a compelling and insinuating sense of presence that grows on increased acquaintance. The attractive The Frescoes of Dionysus (1982) for wind ensemble, cello and celesta is a reaction of instrumental colour and timbre to the frescoes and icons in the Feropontov Monastery in northern Russia. The powerful S elf-Portrait (1984) for orchestra paints a subdued, almost dour picture, of a man quietly and acceptingly wedded to the earth, into whose equanimity breaks unbidden visions of luminous beauty or angry intensity. Music for the Town of Köthen (1984-1985) for small orchestra (with a prominent harpsichord) is a three-movement neo-baroque suite, gently pleasant and spacious, with a whimsical falling idea that adds a compelling dash of modernity and creates thrust in the first movement.Music for String, Oboes, Horns and Celesta, drawn from the ballet The Lady with the Lap-Dog, grows in stature on repeated hearings, generally solemn and subdued in mood, but imbued with a feeling of winter festivities by the delicate decorations of the celesta and by the block use of oboes and horns, whose colours merge. Of his other works of the period, Three Shepherds (1988) for flute, oboe and clarinet, recreates the spirit of traditional competitions between peasant musicians. The Echo Sonata (1985) for violin, celebrating the 300th anniversary of J.S.Bach's birth, includes gentle echoes of Bach in an effect akin to electronic transformation, but its theme is not interesting enough to sustain its nine variations and epilogue.

Shchedrin is a concert pianist of stature, and his own piano music provides a microcosm of his development, without being especially arresting.Poem (1954) for piano shows indebtedness toProkofiev, the Hum oresque (1957) to Shostakovich, while the Twenty-Four Preludes and Fugues (1963-1964) are more obviously neo-Bachian than those of Shostakovich, in spite of the moments of extreme chromatic edge. The Piano Sonata (1962) shows Shchedrin's eclecticism at its least flattering: with sections of virtuoso showmanship, the opening of the sonata seems to lope along through street scenery of modernist noises for their own sake, while the middle movement is brilliant but empty, as if dispossessed.

Shchedrin was a member of the ill-fated Parliament dissolved by President Yeltsin in 1993, and emerged as a staunch anti-communist, describing communism as being "anti-biological". His earlier outspokenness, sometimes steering close to the Soviet wind, was marred by his lead in the vicious 1965 attack on a composer of more avant-garde tendencies, Edison Denisov, and his current position as politician-composer has been sullied by his refusal to allow his music to be played on the same programmes as that of Denisov.

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works include:

- 2 symphonies

- 3 piano concertos; 2 Concerto for Orchestra

- Chimes, Music for Strings, Oboes, Horns and Celesta,Music for the Town of Köthen, Self-Portrait,Solemn Overture for orch.; - Echo Sonata for solo violin;Three Shepherds for flute, oboe and clarinet; 3 string quartets; Frescoes of Dionysus for wind, cello and celesta

- piano sonata; Notebook for Youth, Polyphonic Pieces, Twenty-Four Preludes and Fugues and other works for piano

- song cycle Solfeggi; cantatas Bureaucratadia andThe Twenty-Eight; oratorio Lenin Lives in the People's Heart; Poetoria for soloists, chorus and orch.; Workers' Marseillaise and other songs; Concertino and other works for chorus

- ballets Anna Karenina, The Carmen Ballet,The Hunchbacked Horse, The Lady with the Lap-Dog and The Seagull

- operas Dead Souls and Not Only Love

- film scores

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recommended works:

The Carmen Ballet (1967)

Concerto No.1 for Orchestra (1963)

The Frescoes of Dionysus (1982) for wind, cello and celesta

Music for Strings, Oboes, Horns and Celesta

Self-Portrait (1984) for orchestra

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SHOSTAKOVICH Dmitri Dmitriyevich

born 25th September 1906 at St.Petersburg

died 9th August 1975 at Moscow

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Dmitri Shostakovich is one of the most complex musical personalities of the 20th century, whose overall achievement in virtually every musical genre is still widely misunderstood, or appreciated only in part. He has claim, after Mahler, to be the greatest symphonist, and with Bartók, the most important composer of string quartets in the 20th century. His symphonies are now universally known and admired, although this is a relatively recent phenomenon. His string quartets, apart from the eighth, are less frequently heard and are undervalued. Perhaps more than any other composer of the 20th century he has reflected the tenor of much of the century, expressing the multitude of emotions, from the very dark to the reflection of beauty, and the desolate cruelty as well as the compassion of 20th-century societies, that has been admitted by a post-Freudian age.

That Shostakovich was for many years treated equivocally by critics (and sometimes still is) seems to be due to three factors. The first is that, in technical musical terms, he was not an innovator, aside from youthful experimentation that responded to Western trends until the artistic clampdown of the Stalinist years. He preferred extending traditional forms and harmonic language, moulding them to his own expressive purpose, and innovators have always received more contemporary attention than the technically conservative. The second is that, due to the circumstances of the Soviet state, he produced a number of works in the style of Soviet Socialist Realism that are often catchy, efficient and workmanlike, but also vacuous, and it was often these works that the Soviet apparatus promoted externally. This presents a problem for the listener, who should not be put off if they encounter such works and are disappointed: they represent a necessary shell, not the kernel of the composer. The third is more complex. Shostakovich was a very direct composer, expressing in an immediate style both his own personal emotions and his reactions to the culture in which he worked. Mahler had shown that a more eclectic range of musical ideas and depiction, traditionally excluded from such a serious form as the symphony, could be woven into the symphonic fabric and increase the range of expression within the form. Shostakovich extended this emotional range to include material inspired by immediate topical events, and, at his most successful, mould that particular to the universal. There is in inherent in his music a very particular political and social involvement, filtered through his own emotions (though it is far removed from the Soviet posturing his society required), and such a role for music has traditionally been suspect. If his Romantic predecessors can be poorly and loosely defined as expressing the psychological interaction between the individual and Nature in their music, Shostakovich expresses the psychological interaction of the individual and modern society, his very directness allowing a vast emotional range. But it is this emotional range, achieved with such conviction, that has so appealed to audiences, if not to all critics. In this sense of the purpose, if not the technical means, of his music Shostakovich was an innovator, paralleling modernist developments in other artistic fields.

Although his music is distinctive from the very beginning, his large output falls into three periods. Influenced by Hin demith and by Prokofiev, his early music was often experimental, responding to Western developments and to the sense of experimentation so excitingly rife in the early Soviet state. Irony and humour are inherent from the start, but also a sense of bubbling joy. With the rise of Stalin, Shostakovich's music became more monumental, more rugged, often with a controlled anger. He was heavily attacked twice, first in 1936 after Stalin violently objected to his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and second in 1948 in the notorious Zhdanov condemnation of `formalism'. In one sense, all his major music from 1936 onwards reflects some aspect of an artist's relationship with such an experience; at the same time, he churned out a large number of suitable cantatas and film-scores along Soviet Socialist realist lines, and the period 1954 to 1959 was particularly bleak, with no major personal (as opposed to publicly safe) works except the sixth string quartet. After 1960, his music became increasingly bitter, lean, and sad, and later obsessed with death. This later music is his finest, eventually so spare that it seems to work almost instinctively; these are also his most difficult works to assimilate and understand, and the best of them have rightly been compared with late Beethoven. From the late forties, he increasingly used self-quotation in his works, clearly with an autobiographical and extra-musical intent whose full import is still not fully understood. Equally significant is the use of the motto theme of his name (D SCHostakovich) D-S-C-H (in German notation D-E flat-C-B, E flat being `Ess', B natural `H').

A number of characteristics are observable throughout his output. Apart from a few early works, his idiom is traditionally tonal, admitting chromatic dissonance usually for emotional effect. Only towards the end of his life did he start to use atonal passages and 12-tone rows, and these are essentially utilizations of the harmonic and melodic possibilities they afford within a tonal framework. His structures are generally classical in form (though with increasing freedom and departure from the norm in the late works), and if it were not for the directness and involvement of the emotional utterance, totally unclassical in aesthetic, he might have been regarded as a neo-classical composer. Bach and Beethoven form the major mentors for his mature works, the former for his mastery of counterpoint and contrapuntal form, the latter for the example of expressing the most intimate of thoughts in the sparest of forms. Indeed, it may be that when the mass of politically-correct music by Shostakovich is finally discarded and as forgotten as Beethoven's once wildly popular Wellington's Victory, Shostakovich's achievement may be seen as a 20th-century emotional counterpart to Beethoven, but without the technical advances of the 19th-century composer. A favourite Shostakovich device is opening with an adagio, with a simple, uncluttered initial idea (whose general casts are reminiscent of H indemith) and a driving energy propelled in linear, rather than vertical lines. Middle movements often include a mawkish, ironic, sometimes demonic humour and energy. He delighted in rich string sonorities, especially in the string quartets. Slow movements aim at simplicity and beauty of texture, sometimes exploding into outbursts - strong contrasts of emotional tone and material are important, and Shostakovich became increasingly adept at handling their transition and juxtaposition in his middle period. In the later works Shostakovich developed the ability to move from the barest textures to massive, grinding climaxes with complete freedom and conviction. The orchestration, often masterly but rarely used merely for effect, is characterized by clear, often sparse textures, long melodic lines, and colour shades of solo woodwind, solo brass, or small groups of wind or tuned percussion (xylophone, celesta) against massed strings. His output covers all the traditional genres of classical music; his true genius, and his consummate achievement, is to be found in the series of fifteen string quartets. These are also the most concentrated and difficult of his works to grasp, especially the later quartets, and it is his symphonies that have commanded the most attention, and which, along with the concertos, provide the best introduction to his music.

Shostakovich's symphonies fall into distinct groups, with very differing aims. Four (Nos. 2, 3, 11 & 12) have specifically communist programmatic elements. Nos. 7, 8 and 9 reflect the experience of the war, although they are essentially abstract. Nos. 1, 4, 5, 6 and 10 are the major works in which Shostakovich explores the traditional structure of the symphony. Two of the last three symphonies (Nos. 13, 14) extensively employ vocal forces, and form a group with the last (No.15) in extending beyond the traditional parameters of the symphony and expressing a very personal and particular emotional world. He burst into international prominence with the Symphony No.1 op.10 (1924-1925), an extraordinary enough work in its own right, but remarkable considering he was only 18 when he wrote it, and even more remarkable in that it is full of Shostakovich fingerprints instead of being largely derivative. Exuberant, dashing, often full of humour, throwing off the shackles of Romanticism with a happy abandon (and an occasional wry backward glance) combined with a delight in manipulating orchestral colours, it has remained one of Shostakovich's most popular works. The next two symphonies reflected the optimism and experimental drive of the young Soviet state. The Symphony No.2 `To October' op.14 (1927) is in one futurist movement, its opening a gradual emergence of solid ideas from a dark, thick textured, muted atonal melée, the whole symphony thrusting towards its long choral finale celebrating the October revolution, via some extremely raucous and insistent music. This little-known symphony is interesting for its experimentation (including combined polyrhythms and polytonality), and for its suggestions of the directions Shostakovich might have taken had he continued in a different cultural climate. The Symphony No.3 `The First of May' (1929) for chorus and orchestra is the most neglected of Shostakovich's symphonies, and, partly from its lack of thematic development, is the least successful, though there are many interesting episodes in it; with its sunny mood and fervour it is worth the acquaintance. Again in one movement, it includes another choral ending with joyful socialist message (some Western performances have therefore omitted the chorus). The hour long Symp hony No.4 op.43 (1935-1936) was withdrawn while in rehearsal, and not heard until 1961. It is the most Mahlerian of the symphonies (especially the funeral march of the largo), episodic rather than traditional in form. In it many of Shostakovich's symphonic hallmarks - ostinati, a directness of pulse over long time spans, rhythmic devices - here reach a maturity of purpose. It is also a powerful work, tragic, brooding, dark, angry and intense. If it is too long, and its ideas over-abundant, such failings are compensated by a demonic insistence, the wealth of inspired detail, and an extraordinary final movement that ends with a huge ostinato that fades into emptiness, one of the most expressive passages in Shostakovich's whole output; Shostakovich was to return to its technique, colours and mood in the final movement of his last symphony. It was withdrawn primarily for political reasons, although one can't help wondering whether Shostakovich also felt he had also not yet completely solved the marriage of content and form. His next symphony answered both problems, and has remained perhaps the best known. The Sy mphony No.5 op.47 (1937) is subtitled `A Soviet Artist's Reply to Just Criticism', and in it Shostakovich channelled his impulse for a plethora of ideas into tauter and more controlled forms. The slow tempi and dark opening colours of the sonata form first movement ideally suited Shostakovich's musical temperament, and most of the subsequent symphonies open in similar fashion. The largo slow movement is extremely beautiful, with beguiling simplicity and open textures dominated by the strings. The finale has long been the subject of debate; ostensibly it attempts the swagger of the official triumphant finale, but, apparently intentionally, fails, the final blare belied by the central slow section. The Symphony No.6 op.54 (1939), if less overtly appealing, is perhaps more interesting, the range of emotion and expression much wider (particularly in the long opening largo that dominates the three-movement symphony), the symphonic solutions more ambiguous, the finale more successful, its closing verve alloyed by memories of the opening movement.

The first of the war symphonies, the Symphony No.7 op.60 (sometimes called `Leningrad', 1942), was partly written during the siege of Leningrad, and has become notorious for its first movement. After a slow, bucolic opening, a march theme quietly appears and builds towards a massive climax, through a long succession of inexorable motoric repeats. In the hands of most conductors and orchestras it sounds banal; in the hands of a great conductor and orchestra, it can be hideously menacing, grinding, and monolithic (as Toscanini showed in the first Western performance), which was surely its exact intention. The notoriety of this movement has unfortunately overshadowed the rest of the symphony, largely tragic in feel, its slow movement impassioned, its finale grim and uncertain in its optimism until the closing pages. The equally large-scale Symphony No.8 op.65 (1943) continues the overall idiom of the seventh, but in a tauter fashion, and is one of Shostakovich's finest works. In place of a hollow optimism is an abject pessimism, a depiction of and compassionate response to the horror and suffering of war. It is cast in five movements, the last three linked, and opens with a slow and desolate adagio, a despoiled landscape from which emerges a drained, weeping, anguished extended climax that emphasizes the desolation that returns. The short second movement is a mawkish march, martial splendour carrying barbed-wire whips. The third movement is another relentless urgent rhythmic creation, punctuated by orchestral explosions, that evolves into a trumpet tune over bass drum of phenomenal, determined energy; nothing else Shostakovich ever wrote has such white-hot angry propulsion. This turns into the fourth movement passacaglia, wispy, mist over total desolation, and similar in tone to the final movement of Vaug han Williams' sixth symphony. The final movement explodes into a huge, quasi-triumphant climax, that is whittled away by a demonic fiddler into a kind of weary, thankful peace. There is no glory in this symphony, only pity and desolation. Its successor is in its own way even finer. Authorities and audiences were expecting the Sym phony No.9 op.70 (1945) to be choral, large in scale, and triumphant in tone, not just because of the end of the war with Germany, but also because of the tradition of Beethoven's ninth symphony. What they instead got was a short, five-movement, perfectly integrated and proportioned gem of a symphony, that is one of the few 20th-century works to combine genuine infectious humour with a contemporary idiom and a seriousness of purpose. It is by no means a work of surface gloss: underneath the bouncing surface is a wide range of mood, from the ironic to the tragic and the elegiac, the manic elements of the hilarious ending exemplifying the more disturbing elements of the symphony, and it is one of those rare works whose sum seems to contain far more than its parts would allow.

The gradual convergence of content and form, the evolving mastery of the musical expression of complex and often contradictory emotions, of the sixth, eighth and ninth symphonies reached its culmination in the Symphony No.10 op.93 (1953), one of the masterpieces of the 20th century. The symphonic architecture is completely integrated, without the episodic elements of the earlier symphonies, and its emotional tension is consistent, from the tragic elements of the opening movement, through the propulsive drive of the second movement, the haunting, shattering, deliberate outburst of the third (a technique he had developed in his quartets), to a completely successful finale that arrives at a suitable emphatic conclusion without sacrificing the overall tone of the symphony. That this was an intensely personal document for the composer is obvious from the music (it followed Stalin's death, and has been seen as reflecting Shostakovich's anger and despair at the society he created), and is reinforced by the use of the motto D-S-C-H. The next two symphonies, as if retreating from such a personal and intense utterance, are programmatic, Symphony No.11 `1905' op.103 (1957) depicting the abortive uprising of 1905, the Symphony No.12 `1917' op.112 (1961) the October Revolution. Both are more appropriately treated as symphonic poems rather than symphonies, in spite of their symphonic structures, for the programmatic elements presuppose an outward reflection, a commentary, rather than the internally-generated passions of all Shostakovich's other mature symphonies. Nor should they be dismissed on that score: the Symphony No.11 in particular contains some of Shostakovich's finest descriptive music, brilliantly scored, its emotional commentary often hard-hitting, as in the intense build-up to the climax of the shooting in the square, and in the harrowing effect of the music of shattering quietness that follows it.

With the Symphony No.13 `Babi Yar' op.113 (1962) Shostakovich changed direction, as if he had said all he had needed to say in the traditional symphonic structure with the Symphony No.10, and fulfilled his programmatic needs or commitments in the eleventh and twelfth symphonies. Scored for bass, choir and orchestra, it is a setting in five movements of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko. It is Shostakovich's most public statement of the collision between private feelings of anger, despair, and biting satire against the oppressive Soviet system, and the public artistic utterance. Although Yevtushenko's verses can be construed as politically correct, they are consistently subversive through their ambiguity, and Shostakovich uses echoes of the Russian tradition, particularly of massed male voices, to contrast the aspirations and the realities. It opens with the title poem about the mass graves of Babi Yar, officially attributed to the Nazis, but then rumoured to be the work of Stalin (Yevtushenko's poem never mentions the perpetrators or the communist party), while the second movement (`humour') summarizes Shostakovich's mordant wit, and its psychological necessity. The last (`A Career') is, through a poem about Galileo, a savage indictment of the position of the artist under the Soviet regime. There are few works of music so powerfully expressing the protest of the humanist artist. The Symp hony No.14 op.135 (1969) for soprano, bass and chamber orchestra, transferred the tone and the vocal means of the thirteenth, with the common denominator of the tolling bell, to a more introspective, equally anguished work. Dedicated to Benjamin Britten, it is a cycle of eleven songs by Lorca, Apollinaire, Küchelbecker and Rilke. Its subject is death, treated in a variety of tones, all dark, from the barren, spare textures and swapping double basses of the opening song, through touches of bitter irony, to an ending preceded by near-silence that offers little hope or resolution. The orchestration is spartan, merely strings against the bright or harsh colours of a percussion section that is dominated by tuned instruments and excludes timpani; the textures are often reduced to the absolute minimum, music stripped to its barest necessities. This bleak work is hardly touched by moments of lighter beauty, a consideration of death unleavened by the transfiguration of the last works of Ma hler or Strauss, but in its own way it is as profound, its musical qualities matching the particularly distinguished poetry. It looks into the abyss of profound depression, as if the only way to avoid that abyss and counter the depression was to express it in music; such a contemplation is not comfortable for the listener, but it is a confrontation with an experience all too central to our century. Shostakovich's final symphony, the Symphony No.15 op.141 (1971) is perhaps his most extraordinary. It combines the spare language and the direct, clear textures of its immediate predecessors with the symphonic and purely instrumental effect of the tenth symphony. It uses, for reasons still not yet fully understood, quotations from Rossini's Wil liam Tell overture and from Wagner's Ring cycle. On the one hand the symphony can be approached as a purely abstract work, in which the often disparate ideas flow with a remarkable spontaneity and natural fluidity. On the other hand, it is clearly an intensely personal emotional document, using the D-S-C-H motto and quoting extensively from Shostakovich's own work (including the ninth and eleventh symphonies, The Execution of Stepan Razin, the quartets, and the concertos) whose full secrets have yet to be deciphered. It also adds a kind of serene peace and reconciliation to the experience of the fourteenth symphony, still without a strong impulse of hope, but with a spell-binding ending of chattering percussion and tinkling bells against a rumbling timpani theme and held strings, echoing the fourth symphony, that suggests `I have done what I can'.

Shostakovich wrote six concertos, and each has claim to a regular place in the repertoire. The Piano Concerto No.1 op.35 (1933), properly titled Concerto for piano, trumpet, and string orchestra, is an affair of riotous delight, carried on between piano and trumpet as much as the orchestra, especially in the rushing refusal of either instrument to finish the concerto - it is a concerto counterpart to the exuberance of the first symphony. The Piano Concerto No.2 op.101 (1957) is very different; written for his (then) teenage son, it follows the tradition of Rachmaninov, Romantically hued, with one of the most beautiful slow movements of all piano concertos. This delightful, unassuming work will appeal to almost every music lover. The two violin concertos are more serious in intent. The Violin Concerto No.1 op.99 (1947-1948, revised 1955) has connections with the tenth symphony and the fifth string quartet, using the D-S-C-H motive, and in the opening of the third and final movement, incorporates music too close to a section of the film score of Z oya (1944) to be a coincidence. It opens with a nocturne and a thoughtful solo line, moves to a scherzo that is a merry-go-round whirl, and ends, after a monumental opening to the finale, with a passacaglia with lovely, less angular solo writing. The Violin Concerto No.2 op.129 (1967) is more obviously lyrical and subdued, with a plaintive beauty, and omits the usual Shostakovich scherzo. The compelling Cel lo Concerto No.1 op.107 (1959), another of Shostakovich's most popular works, is a single-minded concerto (being largely based on one theme heard at the opening), with a slow movement whose idiom is ideal for the richness of the solo instrument, and a bouncy ending. The Ce llo Concerto No.2 op.126 (1966) seems to have been inexplicably neglected. Less direct than its predecessor, it is the most haunting, sad, and introspective of the concertos, a parallel to the later quartets, lightly scored for the typical late Shostakovich colours of double woodwind, two horns, two harps, percussion including tuned instruments, and strings.

Most of Shostakovich's serious vocal music (as opposed to the poster-paint Soviet Socialist Realist cantatas) dates from late in his life, when he also orchestrated two earlier song cycles. The song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry op. (1948, orchestrated 1964) for soprano, contralto, tenor and chorus is both the most Mahlerian of his works and one of the most appealing. The folk poetry is wide ranging in sentiment, and Shostakovich was able to indulge in the grotesque and the satirical, as well as the lyrical (in the lovely duet describing winter). Yet throughout darkness and despair hover in the background, and the chief feature of the song cycle is a deeply committed compositional compassion for those in the ballad stories of the poetry: every song has a protagonist. It is considerably more powerful in its orchestrated version. The Execution of Stepan Razin op.119 (1964) for bass, chorus and orchestra, is a dramatic cantata that continued the submerged protest of the Symphony No.13, using verses by the same poet. Ostensibly the dramatic narrative poem by Yevtushenko, telling of the execution of a Cossack hero whose severed head laughs at the Tzar, tows the party line, but underneath Yevtushenko's writing is subversive (the Tzar's world is easily equated with the communist regime), and it is this side that Shostakovich emphasized and amplified in the music, which is far from Soviet Socialist Realism. The Soviet authorities did not appear realize this, but neither have Western musicians, for this most dramatic (aside from the operas) of Shostakovich's works is almost completely unknown. The cantata appears to follow the large-scale declamatory style of `official' works, but the within this framework the writing is bitter, ironic, occasionally mawkish, satirizing that official style but at the same time having its own considerable force and brute impact.

Shostakovich's stage works comprise three ballets, of which The Age of Gold (1927-1930) is the most interesting, two operas, and one operetta. The ballet suites attributed to him are compilations by others of music from film scores and the ballets, and are best avoided: although individual items can be entertaining and witty, generally the material is of a lesser quality, unlike the best of the many film scores ( Hamlet, 1963, not to be confused with the earlier incidental music, King Lear, 1970, and Zoya, 1944). The two operas are both major works. The Nose op.15 (1927-1928) is based on Gogol's biting satire of social manners and politics in which a nose takes on an independent life, and is perhaps Shostakovich's most inventive and experimental work. In a rapid series of tableaux employing a huge number of characters (which has hindered performance) Shostakovich vividly matched the Gogol humour, allowing full rein to his own sense of irony and satire. The often startling and brightly coloured effects tumble over each other with the sharpness of a satirist's pen, there are passages (such as that for a battery of unaccompanied percussion) of incisive originality, and the vocal writing closely follows natural speech; the entire opera is a complete break from the 19th-century tradition. It is perhaps more correctly described as a piece of music theatre than as an opera, for Shostakovich's intent was to match the Gogol rather than any operatic musical development, and in this he brilliantly succeeded. His second opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District op.29 (1930-1932) is a seminal work in his output. On a grand scale, its libretto by Aleksander Preys is based on a story by Nikolai Leskov, with borrowings from Ostrovsky's The Storm. It tells of a married woman whose love for a clerk leads her to murder, arrest, deportation, and suicide; it combines graphic and savage psychological portraits of the central protagonists with hard-hitting social commentary in a powerful plot. The complex central character stands for those oppressed by stifling provincial life. It allowed Shostakovich to employ his full range of emotional effect, from incisive mockery to long melodic vocal lines, his instinct for lyricism, his ability to depict anger and violence, and, especially in the last act, his ability to create a vast orchestral landscape. Following Stalin's outrage at the work, it was not heard after its initial run until 1963, when it reappeared revised as Katerina Ismailova (revision 1956), with, among other items, the verbal depiction of the psycho-sexual motivation of Katerina toned down. The earlier version is generally preferred, on political grounds as much as anything else, but it should be noted that Shostakovich also took the opportunity for some effective musical alterations in the later version, especially the bleak vision of convict life in the last scene. He started a third opera, The Gamblers (1941), but abandoned it (although some of it survives), apparently disillusioned by the official condemnation of both his earlier operas, and the 20th century lost an opera composer of considerable achievement and potential. The operetta, Moscow, Cheryomushki... (1958) is Shostakovich in an unconvincing populist vein, with some good tunes crudely treated and little else.

Following the Symphony No.13, Shostakovich wrote two song-cycles, and revised and orchestrated an earlier one, that express the same dark world, the rejection of the society around him, and the contemplation of death as a release. All three works have a lean strength and power, combined with an other-worldly simplicity, that make them among the most potent of his works. The Six Songs to Lyrics by English Poets op.140 (1973) for bass voice and orchestra are orchestrations of a 1942 cycle (op.62), and set Burns, Raleigh and Shakespeare. Six Songs to Poems by Marina Tsvetayeva op.143 (1973) explore the place of the artist within a brutal culture, ending with a tribute to the poet Akhmatova. The Suite on Verses by Michelangelo Buonarroti op.145 (1974) for bass and piano or orchestra set late Michelangelo sonnets that ruminate, sometimes angrily, on the condition of the world and impending death and immortality achieved through friendship. In all three works Shostakovich favours low dark sounds (lower strings) and high, bright, ethereal sounds (percussion, celesta, high strings), leaving the middle ground to moments of climax and to the funeral or haunting martial sounds of the horn; in the two cycles with bass voice the very colour of the vocal line adds to the frightening bleakness.

The symphony provided Shostakovich with the larger public forum. Through the medium of the string quartet he expressed his more personal, intimate feelings, and it is in them that Shostakovich's most complete utterance is found, unclotted by the demands on the Soviet artist. They are much more consistent in quality than the symphonies, partly because all but two of the fifteen were written after he had reached the age of forty; it is all too easy to forget, when being critical of the earlier symphonies, that he was still only 37 when he wrote the Symphony No.8. The string quartets fall loosely into two types: those works of his middle period, where the intent is almost symphonic in scale and design and which are influenced by the symphonies, and the later quartets in which his expression becomes increasingly rarefied, almost spiritual, and which influenced the last three symphonies. In both cases, these quartets are much more than the abstract exploration of content and form for which the medium has been such a successful vehicle. They are deeply expressive personal documents, through which one can sense the personality and character of the composer, and for this reason they have been compared with Beethoven's string quartets. The short St ring Quartet No.1 op.49 (1938) is an unassuming, genial, and relaxed work, and it is the String Quartet No.2 op.68 (1944) that starts the series of quartets that have a symphonic weight and proportions. It is built round a long and beautiful tragic adagio, titled `Recitative and Romance', in which Shostakovich developed his penchant for long solo instrumental recitative. It also uses suggestions of folk music, particularly in the drone-like accompaniments and in the dance ideas, an idiom that permeates the entire cycle of quartets. The five movement String Quartet No.3 op.73 (1946) is one of the finest, with its jaunting angular opening tune, an unforgettable march-like staccato passage in the second movement followed by a powerful scherzo (both anticipating the tenth symphony), a slow moving passacaglia, and a contemplative finale whose ending, with a high solo violin over a drone, punctuated by pizzicato interjections, is a characteristic Shostakovich effect. The S tring Quartet No.4 op.83 (1949) is a ruminative piece, three of its movements marked allegretto, the fourth andantino. Gentle changes of texture and colour predominate, and a rather sad lyricism pervades this gentle, lucid, and beguiling work, which Shostakovich withheld until after Stalin's death. A complete contrast is provided by the S tring Quartet No.5 op.92 (1952), one of Shostakovich's rigorous and most unyielding works, which has close affinities with the Sym phony No.10 and the Violin Concerto No.1. Its three movements are continuous, and the opening adagio is of symphonic ambitions, completely fulfilled in the driving energy and dense linear quartet writing, creating a more massive sound than the forces would suggest. It moves, through a mysterious passage using harmonics, straight into the central andante, a haunted vista of slow moving tenuous simplicity and concerted writing, and thence into the finale, whose slow waltz turns into a massive climax, again stretching the massed sonorities of the medium to its limits and using themes from all the three movements, before subsiding to a quiet but still tenuous close. Another contrast is provided by the String Quartet No.6 op.107 (1956), which opens with a Haydnesque grace and is more relaxed and genial, each movement ending with the same falling cadence, with a meditative passacaglia for the slow movement, music for a late-night contemplation. The String Quartet No.7 op.108 and the Str ing Quartet No.8 op.110, both written in 1960, form something of an emotional pair. The former is dedicated to the memory of the composer's first wife, and the latter has a kind of double programme, first a reaction to a visit to Dresden, still desolated after war-time destruction, and second a personal autobiographical document of impassioned intensity. The String Quartet No.7 is short (twelve minutes), initiates the more rarefied language and texture that was to be developed in the late quartets, is tightly knit by shared material in the three movements played continuously, and is desolately sad. The St ring Quartet No.8, the most immediately affecting and best-known of the cycle, quotes extensively from Shostakovich's own work, from the first symphony to the second piano trio, and is in five short movements. Its opens with a disarming largo that starts with Shostakovich's D-S-C-H motto, and then smashes out in a second movement of rigidly controlled frenzy and pounding drive. The lilt of the third movement is broken by stabbing chords that herald the fourth movement, and the quiet finale ends with a cheerless return to the D-S-C-H motif, wrenchingly sad. The control and tautness of the whole quartet is considerable, the anger, bitterness and sadness palpable. The drones of the second movement have been equated with the sound of bombers over Dresden, but Shostakovich had used the technique before (and was to do so again) without such a programmatic intent. The String Quartet No.9 op.117 (in five movements that are thematically linked and played without a break) and the String Quartet No.10 op.118, both written in 1964, also from a pair in that they are less troubled, more serene, the former with its unassuming pastoral dance opening, the latter with its gently jaunty ending. Both have moments of disturbance, especially the snarling and furious second movement of the tenth, but these two quartets seem to reflect Shostakovich's contemplation of personal and private moments away from turbulence. A number of the middle string quartets have been successfully orchestrated for chamber orchestra by Rudolf Barshai, with the composer's approval.

With the rather perplexing String Quartet No.11 op.122 (1966) Shostakovich changed direction, and it forms a bridge between the earlier quartets and the final four; each of the quartets nos. 11-14 was dedicated to a different member of the Beethoven Quartet, and in each the instrument of the dedicatee is highlighted. The form of the eleventh is unusual: seven very short movements, internally linked, in what is itself a short work. The language is more rarefied than the earlier works, its tone enigmatic, as if engaged in some private dialogue to which there are few external clues, but it has a curious simplicity and quirky logic. The eleventh quartet initiates unusual structures; with the St ring Quartet No.12 op.133 (1968) Shostakovich added atonal elements and 12-tone rows, though since the basis of the work is tonal (and the argument partly between atonal ideas and a tonal outcome) these extend the harmonic and melodic possibilities rather than constitute an alternative harmonic system. It is cast in two movements, a short moderato acting as prelude to the long second movement in four sections, one of Shostakovich's finest creations, very wide-ranging in mood, captivating in idea - it feels as if Shostakovich succeeded in reconciling his disparate musical and personal traits in this movement. Darkness and depression return in the arch-form single-movement S tring Quartet No.13 op.138 (1970), which continues the use of twelve-note-rows in a concentrated work that almost abandons any possibility of comfort, ending in despairing sadness from the viola, accompanied by the isolated knocking of the bow on the wood of the instruments. The String Quartet No.14 op.142 (1973) combines the enigmatic qualities of the eleventh with the two-movement form of the twelfth, and is unified by a repeating idea on the viola; the first movement is almost bewildering in its folding and unfolding of emotional mood, and in the second Shostakovich seems to have retreated into a luminous inner world. The reduction into a completely spare emotional idiom and rarification of musical thought is completed in the Str ing Quartet No.15 op.144 (1974), in six slow movements, all marked adagio except the penultimate funeral march. The means, but not the emotional intensity, are reduced to the barest essentials, inhabiting an ethereal world given to few composers or compositions, disturbing but profound in its sad, interior other-world.

The rest of Shostakovich's mature chamber output is commensurate with the quality of the string quartets. The intense and satisfying Pia no Trio No.2 op.67 (1944), cast in three movements and dedicated to the memory of a friend who had died in a Nazi concentration camp, is a highlight in Shostakovich's middle period, dominated by the intense last two linked movements, a passacaglia largo of heart-breaking sorrow, and a memorable finale that seems like a bitter folk-dance. The P iano Quintet op.57 (1940) is almost as fine, with a solemn opening of rich sonorities, often bare two-part writing for the piano, and an unusual lightness to the last movement. The late Viol in Sonata op.134 (1968) and the Viola Sonata op.147 (1975) inhabit the same sparse world as the late quartets. The former is the more terse of the two in tone, the later is the last work Shostakovich completed, a very beautiful swan song, making references to other works, that redeems the sadness of the fifteenth quartet. He described its opening movement as a `short story', and it quotes Berg's Violin Concerto, with both piano and viola heavily involved in the story-telling. The scherzo is less demonic than many of Shostakovich's scherzos, with more of a folk flavour, while the finale adagio is a tribute to Beethoven, brilliantly based on the rhythmic and melodic design of the `Moonlight Sonata' while remaining quintessential Shostakovich, and, at its end, just emptying away. His piano music is not extensive, although Shostakovich himself was a considerable pianist until Parkinson's disease curtailed his playing. The major piano works are two marvellous sets inspired by Bach, the Twenty-Four Preludes op.34 (1932-1933) and the Twe nty-Four Preludes and Fugues op.87 (1950-1951); the later are the more substantial and rewarding series.

The impact of Shostakovich's music is based on a powerful duality: first the immediate, direct, and physically and psychologically realistic idiom, and second an underlying expression, sometimes almost coded, of the emotions of the composer - the conflict between the outward appearance and the inner experience. That Shostakovich was not the committed Communist that he has often been painted (it has emerged that many of his public statements and articles were written by others) seems inherent in his musical expression, though it was clearly the destructive state that he was protesting against, rather than for any ideal, and such a protest can be applied to any such state or society regardless of ideology. Much of this contradiction and personal anger and anguish has emerged in an extraordinary book, Testimony, supposedly based on conversations between the composer and S.Volkov. The exact provenance of these conversations is suspect; but their substance seems believable.

Shostakovich taught at the Moscow Conservatory from 1942, and his influence is widely evident in the music of the next generation of composers in what was the U.S.S.R.

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works include:

- 15 symphonies (No.2 To October for chorus and orch.; No.3 The First of May for chorus and orch.; No.7 Leningrad; No.11 The Year 1911; No.12 1917; No.13 Babi Yar for soloists, chorus and orch.; No.14 for soprano, bass, string orch. and percussion)

- Festival Overture, Novorossisk Chimes, October , Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Themes for orch.

- 2 cello concertos; 2 piano concertos; 2 violin concertos

- cello sonata; viola sonata; violin sonata; 2 piano trios; 15 string quartets; piano quintet; Two Pieces for string octet

- 2 piano sonatas; Aphorisms, Children's Notebook,Seven Dolls' Dances, Three Fantastic Dances, 24 Preludes, 24 Preludes and Fugues for piano; concertino and Suite for two pianos

- song cycles From Jewish Folk Poetry for soloists and piano or orch., Four Monologues on Verses of Pushkin for bass and piano,Six Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva for contralto and piano,Four Romances on Verses of Pushkin for bass and piano, Five Romances on Texts from `Krokodil' Magazine for bass and piano; Six Romances on words by Japanese Poets for tenor and orch., Seven Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok for soprano and piano trio, Satires (Pictures of the Past) for soprano and piano, Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti for bass and piano or orch., Four Verses of Capitan Lebjadkin for bass and piano; other songs

- cantata The Execution of Stepan Razin; many other cantatas including The Song of the Forests and The Sun Shines over our Motherland; other music for chorus

- ballets The Age of Gold, The Bolt and Bright Stream

- operas Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (revised asKaterina Ismailova) and The Nose; operetta Moscow, Cheryomushki

- very large number of film scores, notably The Gadfly, Hamlet, King Lear, The Unforgettable Year 1919, and Zoya, and incidental music, notably for Hamlet

- orchestrations, notably of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina, and Songs and Dances of Death

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recommended works:

Symphonies : All the symphonies are recommended. Those new to Shostakovich might try the fifth first, then the first, and then the tenth. The second, third and twelfth symphonies are of lesser interest.

Concertos : All the concertos are recommended.

Chamber Music : All Shostakovich's chamber music is recommended, as are the24 Preludes and Fugues for piano, though the early Two Pieces for octet and the Piano Trio No.1 are of lesser interest. The Piano Trio No.2, the eighth and third string quartets, the Piano Quintet, and then the seventh string quartet might be a sensible order of initial exploration.

Operas : Both Shostakovich's operas are recommended.

Vocal Works : song cycles From Jewish Folk Poetry,Six Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva,Six Romances on words by Japanese Poets,Seven Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok,Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti,Four Verses of Captain Lebjadkin; cantata The Execution of Stepan Razin

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bibliography:

(?)Shostakovich, D. & Volkov, S. Testimony, 1979 (Eng.trans.) (see text)

Kay, N. Shostakovich, 1971

MacDonald, I. The New Shostakovich, 1990

Norris, C. Shostakovich, the Man and his Music, 1982

E. Wilson Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 1994

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STRAVINSKY Igor Fedorovich

born 17th June 1882 at Oranienbaum

died 6th April 1971 at New York

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Igor Stravinsky was for many years the most influential and highly acclaimed of 20th-century composers, the yardstick by which others were judged. The residue of this eminence remains, in that the older generation of current musicians, composers, and critics formed their musical outlook when Stravinsky was to all intents and purposes infallible. Yet that infallibility has been tested in the toughest crucible of all, that of regular performances; in spite of his eminence, Stravinsky's later works are little known even by the musically literate, only a handful of the neo-classical works are in the repertoire, and his general reputation rests on three early ballets which are among the best known of all works in classical music. This position is exemplified by his opera The Rake's Progress, esteemed by many brought up to admire Stravinsky, but rarely performed, a specialist item in record stores.

The roots of both this esteem and his current position are one and the same. Stravinsky was an innovator, but an unusual one. First, he was essentially a stylistic innovator, mining and reshaping other musics to forge his particular stylistic idioms, rather than inventing or developing new harmonic structures or sonorities. Little that he innovated was not being independently developed elsewhere in some fashion, but it was his genius to have such command of each new stylistic idiom that it attracted international attention. Second, he was not content (as have been most innovators) to develop a new idiom and then expand it into a life's work, extending and deepening it. Instead, he was inclined to explore a new idiom, and then move onto to another stylistic innovation. Third, he was the most prominent of the composers who, in reaction to Romanticism, emphasized craftsmanship and the abstract, structural, architectural components of music, preferring the intellectual content of abstract construction to the emotional content of the expression of the human condition.

All these aspects of his innovations attracted the attention of contemporary composers and critics, and Stravinsky's influence on other composers is enormous. In a number of cases, other composers developed an idiom he had initiated into a lifetime's work: Orff's particular individuality is directly developed from Les Noces, for example, while the impetus of a central idea of much of Martinu's later work is to be found in a short phrase in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. Similarly, Stravinsky's music continues to appeal to musicologists, who have always found it much easier to analyze music for its abstract mechanical qualities than to identify the impact on audiences. Yet, while Stravinsky's central emphasis on craftsmanship and the abstract suited the tenor of the middle decades of the century, it holds less appeal to later generations: the balance between form and content, between the cerebral and the emotional qualities that informs all lasting art, is shifted too much to the former (there is a parallel in the architecture of the period). There is a certain kind of sterility to much of Stravinsky's music, however fantastically well crafted (as it almost always is), as if his concentration on the magic of putting things together was less an aesthetic principle than an attempt to avoid expressing or exploring his own deeper emotions, and his shifting of styles an escape from facing their personal implications. It is no coincidence that two of Stravinsky's most popular works are the most emotionally expressive of his output, while in one of the most frequently heard later works (the Symphony in Three Movements) he returns to some of the emotional fire of those early works.

Stravinsky's musical roots were in the tradition of the Russian nationalists and Tchaikovsky, whose influence is evident in the early and Romantic Piano Sonata (1902-1904), and whom he saw conduct as a boy. This heritage was furthered by his studies with Rimsky-Korsakov, the finest orchestrator of his day. By the short orchestral Fireworks (1908), the earliest Stravinsky work to be heard regularly today, the influences had included an awareness of the French Impressionists in a brilliant if vacuous orchestral showpiece that anticipates the more famous ballets that followed, and which brought Stravinsky to the attention of Diaghilev, and, through the collaboration, international fame.

The first original Stravinsky ballet for Diaghilev was The Fir ebird (L'oiseau fe feu, 1909-1910), a stunningly vivid and direct transliteration of visual ideas into musical impact. Based on the story of the phoenix, it is still derivative: the influence of French Impressionism is strong, especially in the opening passages, there are echoes of Wagnerian horn-calls, and the fingerprints of Rimsky-Korsakov mark the whole score, notably in the slower passages and melodic ideas. For long these derivative aspects were masked by the sheer impact of the new elements, most obviously the urgent barbaric earthiness, the sculptural incision, the violence of contrast between tone and mood. Behind these lies Stravinsky's great contribution to 20th-century music: the emancipation of rhythm from a more traditional ordered element into something urgent, motivic, catalystic, in which the tension and release of changing rhythmic patterns (often using unexpected units, such as those of seven or thirteen beats, odd accents, and swiftly changing metres) becomes a central structural component of the score. A particular aspect of modern music, formerly contained and often subordinate, started to be unleashed in The Firebird, and it shocked many and excited still more.

The ballet Petrushka (1910-1911) takes up where The Firebird left off, in the bright pictorialism of the opening carnival scene, but it is a much more individual and less derivative score. The story contains two aspects of instant appeal, the general setting of a carnival (a Shrove-Tuesday fair in St.Petersburg), and a central character who is an ugly but touching puppet. The new element in this widely-loved score is the introduction of an intentional and carefully crafted naïveté, in the sounds of the hurdy-gurdy, the toy-box, the glittering high percussion, in the passages of simple textures that foreshadow Copland, in the semi-humorous writing that is clearly influenced by Dukas's Sorcerer's Apprentice. At the same time Stravinsky started to explore a concept (in part suggested by the scenario) that he was to utilize and develop throughout his career, and which has become a staple of later 20th-century writing: overlapping planes of idea, be it a new key superimposed over the old and emerging on its own, a new melody, or idea of orchestration or rhythm, while motoric ostinati (one of the effects available from the new rhythmic freedom) start to make their presence and excitement felt. Some of these effects are apparent in the short hymn-like cantata La roi des étoiles (The King of the Stars, 1911, original Russian title Zvezdolikiy) for male voice choir and orchestra with its polymodal and polytonal effects in the writing for two groups of twelve tenors and twelve basses. But they came to their fore in the most explosive of all Stravinsky scores, the ballet The R ite of Spring (Le sacre du printemps, 1911-1913). Subtitled `Scenes of Pagan Russia', it is divided into two parts, the first the adoration of the earth and the new spring expressed in rituals and games, the second the propitiation of the earth by the sacrifice of a virgin, with its attendant rituals. The very scenario showed a willingness to express the deep elemental archetypes and urges that the 19th century had preferred to keep repressed, or at least unexpressed. Stravinsky responded with a score that also unleashed those musically repressed aspects, while still using the apparatus of the huge late-Romantic orchestra. Rhythmic power and change dominate: the listener is aware of the changes in basic pulse (multiplied regularly or irregularly) before anything else, and it is this pulse that gives the work its urgency. Often referred to as `primitivism', there is little primitive about the score, with its extraordinary precision of driving rhythms, independent percussive groups, polytonal and polyrhythmic effects, miraculous orchestration, and perfect proportion and sense of pace and pacing. Rather it might be described as `elemental', since it expresses those elemental emotions that the previous epoch mistakenly equated only with primitive peoples. Of all 20th-century works, The Rite of Spring retains the greatest impact on those fortunate enough to hear it for the first time, and its influence has resonated throughout our century. Rarely has any musical work so completely evoked the scenario it was designed to present.

Stravinsky then focused two aspects of his emerging idiom, the concentration on rhythm and the expansion of the use of percussion, into a single work. The melodic content of the `choreographic scenes' Les Noces (1914-1923) is minimal; the orchestration started off with a full size orchestra, but ended up in its third revision (1923) with the forces that ideally suit the music: four pianos, a mass of percussion, four vocal soloists, and chorus. The subject matter is a wedding, but it is treated not with specific characters and events, but as a conglomerate of ritual, custom, snatches of conversations, and religious material. The entire piece, in which the singing is constant, relies on repetitions and ostinati emphasized by the percussive colours and by the superimposition of planes of rhythmic and melodic idea and chant-like vocal lines. The effect is ritualistic, the lack of orchestral colour giving it a primitive, stripped down, archetypal power, but it is also powerfully dynamic, the rhythmic patterns constantly changing and impelling the linear motion. In many ways it is as revolutionary as The Ri te of Spring, as it has no obvious antecedents. In particular, it showed the potential of percussion instruments, using tuned percussion (and percussive piano) to appropriate the functions of the rest of the orchestra while emphasizing the rhythmic element. Those who respond to the music of Orff will enjoy this work, the direct predecessor of Orff's idiom.

A rather different form of simplicity informs the stage burlesque Renard (1915-1916) for four mime-artists (dancers), four singers and small instrumental ensemble, which opens a period in Stravinsky's output where, partly because of the economies of the war-time years, but partly out of interest in removing himself from the large-scale late-Romantic orchestral forces, he explored the possibility of small-scale stage works. The story is of clowns taking on animal roles, based on Aesop's fable of the fox. The four stage characters (a fox, a cat, a cock, and a goat) mime; the respective singers are separate. The colours are sharp, like a bright rustic Russian picture, the textures correspondingly clear, the rhythms animated, the tone that of burlesque, or of a comical travelling troupe. The direct simplicity of story line, the bright colours, and the small scale of Renard were developed in a work that has become the cornerstone of the development of music theatre, L'histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale, 1918) for speakers, dancers, and instrumental ensemble of seven players. Its form harks back to the 18th-century dance suite (its dances include a jazzy `Ragtime'), but its story - of a soldier who swaps his fiddle, symbol of his soul with the Devil for riches - has a sardonic bitterness. One of its achievements is that its central character is an ordinary person, a simple soldier, and with its ingenuous music reminiscent of simpler, folk styles, developing the quasi-naïve idioms heard in Petrushka, it punctured the special aura around serious music.

Stravinsky furthered his penchant for jazz in Ragtime for Eleven Instruments (1918) and Piano-Rag Music (1919). But he developed a major shift in emphasis and direction in the return to the structures of Baroque music and of the dance suite in the `ballet with songs', Pulcinella (1919-1920), which was an important impetus to the emerging movement of neo-classicism. The ballet was based on a number of themes then erroneously attributed to Pergolesi (1710-1736), Stravinsky himself likened this neo-classical idiom to embracing Apollonianism (celebrating the intellectual) after the Dionysianism of his earlier works. Symphonies for Wind Instruments (1920, revised 1945-1947) has little relation to symphonic construction, the title referring to `sounding together'; instead Stravinsky explored block construction with what he called `litanies', short blocks of different instrumental groupings, joined together.

The opera Oedipus Rex (1926-1927) looked beyond the musical Classical period to an earlier classical age, that of Greek tragedy. The concise and taut libretto in two short acts by Jean Cocteau after Sophocles concerns Oedipus' discovery of his patricide, his mother Jocasta's suicide, and his own self-inflicted blinding and exile. The text, apart from the linking narration, is in Latin, itself an innovation for an opera. The chorus act as a Greek chorus; the tone is rigid, ritualistic, formal, as if hewn out of the stone of a Greek amphitheatre, with an atmosphere of ceremonial nobility. Solo vocal lines often have an archaic, recitative quality, and a noble lyricism in the writing for Jocasta; blocks of differing tone, like panels of a carved relief, are set against each other in sequence. The whole effect, with the rigidity of ostinati pulse, is to emphasize the inevitability of fate, contrasted with the emotional anguish of the central characters, in one of Stravinsky's most powerful works. The invocation to Apollo is overt in the ballet Apollo (originally titled Apollon Musagète, 1927-1928), whose two scenes concerns Apollo's birth and the meeting between Apollo and the muses (each of whom has a variation), and whose rhythms are inspired by verse metres.

The Symphony of Psalms (1930) for chorus and an orchestra that excludes clarinets, violins and viola but includes two pianos for a distinctive set of colours, has proved, with the early ballets, one of the most enduring of Stravinsky's works. Its three movements, setting two psalms each, are progressively longer. Its tone, with the dark colours of lower strings, its rhythmic vitality, its fugal slow movement, the nobility of its ending, and its whole sense of a pagan delight in the glory of the Lord, has proved more popular in the concert hall than in liturgical surroundings. Ballet continued to occupy an important place in Stravinsky's output. Jeux de cartes (Card Game, 1936) is a `ballet in three deals' about a card game in which the dancers are the cards. The music is continuous, the scenes short, and there are hints of earlier styles of music, but it is neither particularly memorable nor profound when taken out of its theatrical context. The climax of Stravinsky's neo-classical period came with first the concerto for string orchestra, Dumbarton Oaks (1938), second the Symphony in C (1938-1940), and third the exciting Symphony in Three Movements (1942-1945). The Symphony in C combines the vigour of Haydn with a Beethovenesque motion around the orchestra in its first movement, creating a classical feel through the regularity of metre and a Stravinskian cast through the perky melodies and in the sense of orchestral blocks. The equally vigorous finale has more metric variety and more consorted textures, and these frame a larghetto that has strong hints of Prokofiev and a bright allegretto with echoes of the dance; each of the movements has an almost throw-away Mozartian ending. The effect is entirely one of a delight in craftsmanship, like some intricate architectural model. The Symphony In Three Movements summarized Stravinsky's development, harking back to the form of the Haydn and pre-Haydn symphony, but constructed with blocks of ideas, shot through with rhythmic excitement that looks back to The Rite of Spring (but in a much more refined orchestral texture), and with reminders of the circus music inPetrushka, a theme from theConcerto for Two Pianos, and figures from the Capric cio for piano and the Symphony in C. Stravinsky claimed that the symphony was inspired by cinematographic images of the war, but any such programme is essentially spurious, for this is abstract music at its most vital and communicative, seemingly reconnecting Stravinsky to his Russian roots, and with a renewal of emotional impact within a very formal style. A final embrace with neo-classicism emerged in Stravinsky's only full-length opera, The Rake's Progress (1948-1951). The libretto, by W.H.Auden and Chester Kallman, apes the atmosphere, characters, and story-lines of 18th-century English literature: the rake of the title unexpectedly inherits a fortune, goes to London leaving his love in the country, visits brothels, gets involved with a bearded circus lady, gets generally disillusioned with his life, discovers his helping friend is a Mephistophelean figure, and ends up in a madhouse, where he is metaphorically if not physically redeemed by the constancy of his country love. There are magnificent moments in the work (such as when his friend reveals his true nature), and it has always had supporters among Stravinsky addicts, but the opera essentially misfires and has never secured a permanent place in the repertoire. The milieu of the libretto requires something of the earthy, Rabelaisian tone of its literary antecedents; both the libretto and the music fail to capture that, concentrating on a gloss that can appear affected, occupying the arena of cerebral wit and style without the undercurrent of emotional power. The Ra ke's Progress was a conscious attempt to return to a Mozartian operatic world, but when compared with the understanding of Strauss and Hofmannsthal, it is an attempt that failed to recapture that magic.

Stravinsky returned to jazz in his adopted country with his Ebony Concerto (1945) for clarinet and jazz ensemble, written for Woody Herman and combining baroque features with a jazz idiom. It is a quirky but appealing little work whose central attraction is the constantly unravelling changes of instrumental colour and effect within the context of jazzy rhythms, craftsmanship at its most effective. There then followed a period of transition in Stravinsky's output, and ( The Rake's Progress apart) the subsequent works are the least generally known. Orpheus (1946), a ballet in three scenes, has an emotional distance (such as the use of a plaintive trumpet over strings), an almost Impressionist limpid quality in its opening, crystalline textures and an exceptionally smooth rhythmic flow, and an affection for the lyrical. The emotional distancing is more potent (because of the religious text) in the very effective and underrated Mass (1948) for two child soloists, chorus, wind and brass. The haunting opening to the Gloria, with intertwining brass, has its roots in the age of Gabrieli; the soloists follow; then a rhythmically ritualistic chorus reach out to Orff, and these three alternating elements form the idiom of the work, with shades of Monteverdi in the Sanctus. The Cantata (1951-1952) for mezzo-soprano, tenor, chorus, two flutes, two oboes (one alternating with English horn) and cello, is based on four anonymous 15th- and 16th-century English popular poems, three of them semi-sacred, the fourth a love poem, each ending with a common refrain. In its delicate, archaic tone, and its simple feel, created in part by the warm colours and restrained sounds of the instrumental accompaniment, it is an equivalent to Bri tten's small-scale choral works, especially in some of the cadences.

In this transitional period, Stravinsky, to the astonishment of his admirers and to the consternation of some critics, turned to an adoption of 12-tone techniques, following the lead of Webern as much as Sch oenberg. In retrospect, Stravinsky's restless penchant for exploration and his consummate grasp of formal construction made such a move less startling than it must have then appeared; the death of Schoenberg, whom Stravinsky hated, psychologically allowed such a development. Initially he employed 12-tone rows as an harmonic element within a wider harmonic variety. Agon (1953-1954 and 1956-1957) exemplifies this transition, an abstract ballet of twelve dances for twelve dancers looking back to the French court dances of the 17th century, divided into three parts. The earlier sections of the ballet have a rhythmic vitality drawn from Stravinsky's earlier modes, the later sections 12-tone elements, the whole framed by fanfares; the large orchestra is used sparingly in different instrumental combinations. In Memoriam Dylan Thomas (1954) for tenor, string quartet and trombone quartet, sets the poet's most famous poem, on the death of his father. Accompanied by the string quartet, and framed by antiphonal canons between the string quartet and the quartet of trombones, it is questionable whether this tense work adds anything to what is an exceptionally musical poem. Canticum Sacrum (1955) celebrated Venice in a short five-movement work for tenor, baritone, chorus and an orchestra without upper strings, and further explores the integration of 12-tone rows. With Threni (Threnodies, 1957-1958), subtitled `id est lamentations Jeremiae Prophetae' (`being the lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah') for six soloists, chorus and orchestra, Stravinsky based an entire work on 12-tone technique. It transcribes the insistent monumentality and emotional distancing of such earlier works as Oedipus Rex into the new harmonic scheme, with a dark and austere formality. The 12-tone rows are used with considerable freedom, but with strict formal integrity (such as combining elements of two rows to make a third), and the rows chosen suggest tonal connections.

These later works, for all their exploration of a new harmonic expression, contain elements of technical play and suggestions that Stravinsky was combining aspects of earlier experience with the new style. Abraham and Isaac (1962-1963) for baritone and chamber orchestra, based on Genesis (in Hebrew), has a florid, archaic vocal line intertwining with an orchestra often reduced to single instrumental lines. The Orchestral Variations (1963-1964) are a short (five minute) set of transmutations on a 12-note series, in which the underlying pulse is constant, the tempo varied. The formality of the neo-classical Stravinsky keeps trying to peek through the Webernesque economy. In Int roitus (1965), subtitled `T.S.Eliot in Memoriam', the tenors and basses intone the Introitus as a chant or whispered imprecation, while the accompaniment employs the 12-note row, announced in full by the timpani. Requiem Canticles (1965-1966) for soloists, chorus and orchestra employs two rows, and a frame of differing instrumental forces (string prelude, wind-instrument prelude, percussion postlude). This, his last completed major work, has a rarefied beauty in which Stravinsky's use of 12-tone techniques has become completely integrated into his idiom; it is perhaps ironic that the wider dissemination of these later works, sparse but formally fascinating, and with their own impact of the distillation of the old and the new, should have been so hampered by the popularity of Stravinsky's earlier work, and by his reputation as the major mid-century alternative to the Second Viennese School.

Stravinsky was voluble in print and interview, and collaborated on a series of books with Robert Craft (Conversations 1959,Memories and Commentaries, 1960, Expositions and Developments, 1962, Dialogues and a Diary , 1963, Themes and Episodes (1966,Stravinsky in Pictures and Documents (1968), Retrospectives and Conclusions, 1969). He left Russia for Switzerland in 1914, moved to France in 1920, and became a French citizen in 1934. He emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1939 and became an American citizen in 1945. He returned to the U.S.S.R. for a visit in 1962.

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works include:

- symphony (`No.1'); Symphony in C; Symphony of Psalms for chorus and orch.; Symphony in Three Movements;

- Capriccio for piano and orch.; Concerto in D for strings; Ebony Concerto for clarinet and jazz band; piano concerto; violin concerto

- Canon on a Russian Popular Tune, Chant du rossignol (Nightingale's Song), Dances concertantes,Dumbarton Oaks, Fireworks, Four Norwegian Moods,Four Studies, Greeting Prelude, Movements,Preludium, Rag-Time, Scherzo à la russe, Scherzo fantastique and Variations for orch. or small orch.

- Three Pieces for clarinet; Elégie for viola; Duo concertant for violin and piano; Suite italienne for violin or viola and piano; Epitaphium for flute, clarinet and harp; Concertino, Double Canon and Three Pieces for string quartet; septet; wind octet; Symphonies of Wind Instruments for wind ensemble

- 2 sonatas, Les cinq doigts, Four Studies,Piano-Rag-Music, Scherzo, Serenade,Souvenir d'une marche boche, Tango, Three Movements from Petrushka and Valse for piano; concerto and sonata for two pianos

- song cycles including Deux poèmes (Belmont) for soprano and 9 instruments (also piano), Deux poèmes (Verlaine) for baritone and chamber orch. (also piano), Four Russian Songs for voice and piano, Three Japanese Lyrics for soprano and 9 instruments,Three Little Songs for voice and orch.(also piano), Three Shakespeare Songs for mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet and viola; Abraham and Isaac for baritone and orch.;Elegy for J.F.K. for baritone or mezzo-soprano and 3 clarinets; In memoriam Dylan Thomas for tenor, string quartet and trombone quartet; The Owl and the Pussy-Cat for voice and piano and other songs.

- cantata Babel; Cantata; Canticum sacrum for tenor, baritone, chorus and orch.; Introitus; Mass; cantata A Sermon, a Narrative, and a Prayer; Threni for 6 soloists, chorus and orch.; Zvezdolikiy ( Le roi des étoiles) for male voice chorus and orch.; other choral works

- ballets Agon, Apollo, La baiser de la fée,Circus Polka, The Firebird, Jeu de cartes,Les Noces, Orpheus, Perséphone,Petrushka, Pulcinella, Renard, The Rite of Spring and Scènes de ballet

- operas Mavra, Oedipus Rex, The Rake's Progress , Le rossignol (The Nightingale)

- musical theatre L'histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale); musical drama for television The Flood

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recommended works:

Stravinsky was an extremely prolific composer, and all of the works mentioned in the main text above are recommended, with those reservations noted. The core of Stravinsky's works will be found in:

ballet The Firebird (1919-1910)

opera Oedipus Rex (1926-1927)

ballet Les Noces (1914-1923)

ballet Pulcinella (1919-1920)

Requiem Canticles (1965-1966) for soloists, chorus and orchestra

ballet The Rite of Spring (1911-1913)

music theatre The Soldier's Tale (1918)

Symphony in C (1939-1940)

Symphony in Three Movements (1942-1945)

Symphony of Psalms (1930) for chorus and orchestra

Threni (1957-1958) for six soloists, chorus and orchestra

Those following Stravinsky's development might consider exploring his major ballet music, which makes an interesting continuity within a single genre. In chronological order: The Firebird, Petrushka,The Rite of Spring, Renard, Les Noces,Pulcinella, Apollo, Le baiser de la fée,Perséphone, Jeu de cartes, Orpheus and Agon.

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bibliography:

I. Stravinsky An Autobiography, 1936, reissued 1975

Poetics of Music , 1947

B. Asafyev A Book about Stravinsky, 1982

S. Walsh Stravinsky

E. W. White Stravinsky, 1966, second edition 1979

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SVIRIDOV Georgi

born 16th December, 1915 at Fatezh (Kursk region)

died 5th January 1998 at Moscow

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The genre of Soviet musical Socialist Realism met with such a scathing response from critics in the West, that it is easy to forget that the bright, optimistic and conservative demands of the Socialist Realism idiom genuinely suited the temperaments, both musical and ideological, of some Soviet composers. The best of these is Georgi Sviridov. Those not prepared to adjust to a usually conservative harmonic idiom, occasionally deceptively simple ideas, and a sometimes ideological content need look no further, but they would miss the more personal, musically advanced and intimate smaller pieces of the 1970s. The large-scale 1950s Soviet pieces for which he is best known display his surety of touch within the sonorities of the Russian vocal tradition; his melodic gifts are combined with an inherent conviction that is particularly appealing. He is the master of the long floating solo line over the shimmering sonorities of a distant orchestral or vocal (regularly a cappella) backdrop. He was the leading exponent of the Soviet dramatic vocal cycle, a genre designed to appeal to wide audiences, occupying an important position in Soviet music, and, for all its intellectual naïveté, popular - an analogy is perhaps with the position of the American musical in relationship to more `serious' music-theatre.

Sviridov studied with Shostakovich, and his earlier works include three symphonies, otherwise concentrating on chamber music. After a period of apparent uncertainty (1947-1950), he found his own metier (heralded by settings of the Russian poet Avetik Isaakian and of Robert Burns) in two large-scale vocal-dramatic scores, the Poem in Memory of Sergei Esenin (1955) for tenor, choir and orchestra, and the Oratorio Pathétique (1959) for mezzo-soprano, bass, chorus and orchestra. They are contrasting in mood, though similar in their limitations of idiom, which, like most of Sviridov's settings, involves a close integration of music and words in song-cycle formats. Indeed, the message of the words is paramount, with the music providing an atmospheric synthesis, and his works appear much more impressive when one can follow with the texts. The later oratorio reflects the vigour and vivid imagery of the revolutionary poet Mayakovsky, with the bass taking a declamatory narrator role. The Poem in Memory of Sergei Es enin is more lyrical and introverted, with the feel of the Russian countryside, especially in the first of two sections (the second reflecting the new dynamism following the 1917 revolution).

Sviridov's preferred poets are those with large-scale imagery or political intent (Mayakovsky, Esenin, Blok). But his most appealing music dates from the 1960s and 1970s, and is smaller in scale, reflecting the folk poetry (real or imitated) and the countryside of his native Kursk, and coloured with a sense of the melancholic. This inspiration is direct in the Kursk Songs (1963), a short cycle of songs based on folk-tunes describing peasant life before the Revolution, for mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass, chorus and orchestra. The restrained but colourful orchestration is beguiling, the actual folk tunes imbued with a touch of eastern exoticism. Alongside the sense of Russian choral spaciousness, there are echoes of Carl Orff in the orchestral writing, and these are overt in the ostinato first movement of the marvellous short Spring Cantata (1972) for chorus and orchestra, which unexpectedly (and unwittingly) links Orff with the minimalism of John Adams. Based on poems published a century earlier by Nikolai Nekrasov, the slow second movement is a more conventional dialogue between female and male choruses, the orchestral third deliberately archaic, setting two oboes against a shimmer of bells, celesta, vibraphone and harp, the last (`Mother Russia') a grand finale, just avoiding poster-colour extroversion. More obviously unconventional is the powerful and haunting Concerto in Memory of A.A.Y urlov (1973), a technically very taxing vocalise (no words) for a cappella chorus with soprano solo whose opening uses cluster harmonies reminiscent of Ligeti (though shifting on a more regular rhythmic basis). All these later works have a strong awareness of the Russian choral tradition, metamorphosed in the 1970s by the increasing use of more contemporary choral and harmonic idioms.

While it would be fatuous to suggest that Sviridov's music approaches the range or depth of such composers as Shostakovich, Prokofiev or Schnittke, his vocal-dramatic works nonetheless represent an important historical facet of Soviet thought and culture. They have their own appealing and attractive merits, and the much more advanced smaller choral pieces are particularly satisfying, with the Concerto in memory of A.A.Yurlov one of the finest choral works to have come out of Soviet Russia. Sviridov succeeded Shostakovich as first secretary to the Composer' Congress of the Russian Federation in 1960, a post he held until 1973.

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works include:

- 3 symphonies

- 2 piano concertos

- piano trio; suite for string quartet; piano quintet

- piano sonata and other piano music

- Poem in Memory of Sergei Esenin for soloists, chorus and orch.; Oratorio Pathétique; Kursk Songs for soloists, chorus and orch.; Spring Cantata for soloists, chorus and orch.;Three Miniatures for a cappella choir; Concerto in Memory of A.A.Yurlov for soprano and a cappella choir and other choral works; song cycles

- musical comedy The wide sea stretches away; film music

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recommended works:

Concerto in Memory of A.A.Yurlov (1973) for soprano and a cappella choir

Kursk Songs (1963) for soloists, chorus and orchestra

Oratorio Pathétique (1958) for soloists, chorus and orchestra

Poem in Memory of Sergei Esenin (1955) for soloists, chorus and orchestra

Spring Cantata (1973) for chorus and orchestra

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bibliography:

G.Sviridov Noto-bibliograficheski spravochnik (compiled by D.Person), 1974

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VAINBERG Moshei (sometimes spelt WAINBERG)

born 8th December 1919 at Warsaw

died 26th February 1996 at Moscow

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Born in Poland, Vainberg remained in the U.S.S.R. after fleeing there when his home area was invaded by the Nazis in 1941. He was widely admired in the U.S.S.R. as one of the leading composers of his generation, though little has been heard in the West. Jewish and Moldavian folk elements appear in his traditional idiom, and although his earlier music was criticized in the strictures of 1948, he was soon praised for his `reorientation'. His idiom shows affinities with Shostakovich, especially in the use of marches, in the discursive, flowing melodic ideas, and in the phrase construction, and his later works suggest a development, in the orchestral language and general extension of a traditional harmonic idiom, similar to that of the later Shostakovich. Some may find these affinities too close for comfort, but the tone of Vainberg's works (as opposed to their means) is different, suggesting an outgoing musical personality under constant restraint, as if standing apart from his material with a disembodied effect, especially in his elusive, angular melodic lines.

Though primarily a symphonist and string quartet composer, he was prolific in all genres, and more needs to be heard of his music for a full assessment. Of his sixteen symphonies, the Symphony No.4 (1961) illustrates a number of the features of his style, with an opening movement whose vigour is offset by the unsettled rhythmic shifts and by the strange, introverted close, an enigmatic and restrained second movement discussion between orchestral instruments, and the gentle but ghostly ride through the Russian countryside of the slow movement, with Mahler standing on the horizon. The five-movement Symphony No.6 (1963) for boys' chorus, violin and orchestra, includes a Moldavian folk tune, with a literary programme ranging from a small boy making a violin and playing it, to a memorial to the victims of fascism and the peacefulness of the present. More straightforward than the fourth, and closer to a Soviet Socialist programme symphony, there is nonetheless a darker undercurrent to this symphony, subtle and probing, and confirmed by the wild, almost grotesque folk-dance of an allegro and the quiet ending. The Symphony No.7 is for harpsichord and strings, and the Symphony No.12 (1976) is subtitled `In Memoriam Dmitri Shostakovich'. Of his concertos, the four-movement Violin Concerto (1959) is a fine and neglected work, alternating between an aggressive vigour and an enigmatic lyricism, especially in the lovely slow movement, avoiding direct appeal for a more tangential lyrical utterance. The Trumpet Concerto is a particularly interesting work, very large in scale and scope for such a concerto, unsettling in its sudden emotional and idiomatic shifts. It is full of humour, sometimes mawkish and grotesque, with deliberately unsettling rhythms in the opening movement, wide swings from the epic to the lyrical in the middle movement, and a totally enigmatic finale. One cannot help wondering if there is not a hidden agenda in this curious concerto.

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works include:

- 16 symphonies (No.6 for boys’ chorus, violin and orch., No.7 for harpsichord and strings); 2 sinfoniettas

- cello concerto, flute concerto, trumpet concerto, violin concerto and other concertos

- Moldavian Rhapsody, Polish Tunes and Serenade for orch.

- cello sonata; flute sonata; violin sonata and other sonatas; 12 string quartets; piano quintet and other chamber music

- song cycles; cantatas Hiroshima Haiku and In the Native Land

- ballets including Battle for the Motherland, The Gold Key, and The White Chrysanthemum

- The Passenger, The Sword of Uzbekistan, The Three Musketeers and other operas

- film scores.

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recommended works:

Symphony No.4 op.61 (1961)

Trumpet Concerto op.95

Violin Concerto op.67 (1959)

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RUSSIAN REPUBLIC

and the former Soviet Union

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Preface

If this Guide had appeared in the 1970s, its entry on the U.S.S.R. would have looked very different. Firstly, the U.S.S.R. would have commanded a wider range of geography and musical cultures than that of the Russian Republic. Second, the type of composer promoted by the Soviets, and whose music was disseminated abroad, followed the particular precepts of Soviet music, with some notable exceptions whose range and quality of music was too great to be ignored. Consequently, it would have been necessary to devote considerable space to these composers as representative of Soviet musical thought.

The dissolution of the former U.S.S.R. thus poses problems for any survey of 20th-century composers. Some lesser composers have become of importance to the heritage of their new countries; these will be found under those countries, as will such younger composers as P ärt, whose focus is on his country of Estonia, not the former U.S.S.R. Those better-known composers who spent most or all of their working lives in the U.S.S.R., and were promoted internationally as Soviet composers, will be found below, as will older and younger composers who were or are Russian by birth. As for some of the less interesting Soviet composers promoted by the Soviets, it seems highly unlikely that anyone will celebrate their music again, for justifiable social and musical reasons. However, they may be of historical interest, and where appropriate they are surveyed in the introduction.

Introduction

By the turn of the century, Russian composition was divided into two major trends, representing differences of stylistic temperament and academic teaching rather than mutually exclusive outlooks. The first built on the achievement of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), especially in the more abstract forms of the symphony and the concerto, and was represented by Sergei Taneiev (also spelled Taneyev, 1856-1915), now best known for his four symphonies and the operatic trilogy Oresteia. The second followed the lead of the so-called `Five' (`Kutchka'): Mily Alexeievich Balakirev (1837-1910), Alexander Borodin (1833-1887), César Cui (1835-1918), Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908). These composers developed a nationalist school of rich, graphic tone-poems and operas celebrating specifically Russian subjects, and culminated in the brilliant, sumptuous and glittering orchestral magic of Rimsky-Korsakov, who was widely influential on the following generation as a teacher. In the same style were the richly orchestrated miniature tone-poems of Anatol Liadov (1855-1914).

This division was clear in the earlier works of the generation coming into maturity after the turn of the century. Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) and Nikolai Med tner (1880-1951) developed the tradition of Taneiev in piano works of Romantic lyricism and clarity within mostly abstract forms; in terms of the development of classical music, their idiom became increasingly anachronistic, but the sheer genius of Rachmaninov overcomes such limitations. In contrast, the early ballets of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), still his most popular works and long discussed in terms of their rhythmic and dissonant innovations, can now be seen as a clear development of the idiom of Rimsky-Korsakov. The twin poles of this musical life were highly organized, centred on the conservatories of Moscow and St.Petersburg respectively, and the tendency to academicism was exemplified in the figure of Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936), who was an important teacher but whose depth of inspiration in his own works never matched his facility. The maverick of this period was the mercurial figure of Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), who built on the pianistic tradition of Liszt, stretching chromatic harmonies to their breaking point, and plunging into huge visions of spirituality and mysticism in both orchestral and piano works. His harmonic innovations and the intensity of his personal vision suggested the possibility of alternatives to a younger generation of composers, but his influence was more through example than through specific musical styles, a position analogous to his French contemporary Sa tie. Of the other composers working in this period, Alexander Grechaninov (also spelled Gretchaninov, 1864-1956) produced in the Liturgica Domestica op.79 (1917) for two tenors, baritone, bass, chorus and chamber orchestra one of the finest of all Russian liturgical settings, strongly recommended to those who respond to Eastern European church musics. His secular music is extremely conservative, following in the tradition of Tchaikovsky; he moved to Paris in 1922, and to the U.S.A. in 1939.

As the 1917 Revolution completely destroyed the old cultural and social orders, a new generation of extraordinarily talented composers was emerging, who would form the backbone of 20th-century Russian music. There was Stravinsky himself, who moved to Switzerland in 1914, and whose series of abrupt stylistic changes, from the innovation of music theatre works in and immediately after the First World War, to the development of neo-classicism in the 1920s and 1930s, and the eventual adoption of 12-tone techniques in the 1950s, made him the dominant international composer of the middle of the century, scorned, derided and exiled by the Soviet authorities. The precocious Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) produced brilliant, savage, tumultuous and dissonant music only tenuously holding on to traditional harmonies before returning to the U.S.S.R. after a period of exile. He then developed a melodically distinctive lyrical style, especially in his ballets and symphonies, that was largely acceptable to the Soviet authorities and which includes some of the most joyous and descriptively memorable music of the century. The more dour Nikolai Miaskovsky (1881-1950) concentrated on the traditional forms of the symphony and the quartet. But, as is now becoming apparent, the finest composer of this generation was Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975). His life was almost a metaphor for the vicissitudes, the horrors and the triumphs of the Soviet Union itself; much of his music reflects the vacuous requirements of the Soviet authorities, and for long Western critics mistook such musical platitudes for the substance of his music. However, his major works (especially the symphonies and the string quartets) cover the widest expression of human emotions and the most complete fusion of the personal and the public since Beethoven. After his early experimental works, his essentially conservative idiom represents an unusual amalgamation of influences: the dark drive and classical formality of Hindemith, the eclecticism and large-scale of Mahler, and especially the spare, anguished and intense musical world of Mussorgsky, whose music Shostakovich knew in its original unadulterated form, rather than in the heavily Romanticised orchestrations by others that were universally played outside Russia. Shostakovich's influence has been considerable, if subtle: his melodic fingermarks and general sound pervade Russian music after 1945, and regularly appear in the music of other countries.

The period following the Bolshevik Revolution was one of fertile excitement and experimentation in all the arts, reflecting the new interest in industrialization and the search for expression of the primacy of the people, exemplified in the work of the poet Mayakovsky (not to be confused with Miaskovsky); the philosophical gulf between Scriabin's late theosophist visions of 1905-1910 and Prokofiev's Age of Steel ballet of 1925-1926 is vast. The major musical equivalent to Constructivism was the music of Alexander Mosolov (1900-1973). His Zavod (Iron Foundry), a short orchestral mechanical whirlwind drawn from the ballet St eel (1926-1928) became a cause-célèbre; much derided by critics, it remains the powerful epitome of motoric music. His Piano Concerto No.1 (1926-1927) is equally insistent and anti-Romantic, harsh dissonances held in the iron claw of motoric rhythms, brash, outrageous, and with an extraordinary polystylism in the near-atonal central movement; this outrageous work deserves revival, as it so encapsulates an aspect of its age.

Under the aegis of two major musical groups, the Russian Association of Proletarian Music and the Association for Contemporary Music, opera turned to an anti-Romantic, direct declamatory style, exemplified by The North Wind (1930) by Lev Knipper (1898-1974; see under `Georgia, Introduction'). Repertoire operas were rewritten with proletarian librettos, and such contemporary works as Be rg's Wozzeck were heard. At the same time the genre of the massed song was being developed by serious composers, leading to a genre of the large-scale patriotic oratorio, of which Knipper's Symphony No.4 `Poem about the Komsomol Fighter' (1934) is an historically interesting and occasionally effective early example, the essentially simple folk-material (including the famous song `Poliushko') being laid in a huge, epic-scale orchestral bed.

This experimental period in Soviet music came to an abrupt end with the rise of Stalin and the imposition of the official Soviet line of `Socialist Realism' in 1932. Applied to music, it meant a return to straightforward 19th-century tonal harmonies in bright orchestral colours; harmonic experimentation was denounced as `formalism'. Epic-scale symphonies, large oratorios, and operas with communist or patriotic subjects were the preferred forms, the required tone the joy or triumph of the Soviet system and the Soviet people, that had to overcome any tragic elements. This inevitably leaned towards programmatic rather than abstract music. Shostakovich was one of the first to fall foul of this Philistine aesthetic: his highly successful opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1934) was condemned for its psychological realism by Stalin in 1936, leading to the withdrawal of the Symphony No.4 (1936) and to his placatory (but musically sincere) response in the lyrical-epic Symphony No.5 (1937).

The leading composers of this period succumbed to this formula. Ivan Dzerzhinsky (1909-1978) combined a revolutionary story, Cossack folk-songs, and a direct and dramatic melodic idiom in the opera Qu iet Flows the Don (1935), based on the famous novel, ostensibly by Sholokhov (who apparently plagiarised the novel). Yuri Shaporin (1887-1966), whose early works had included such modernist pieces as the suite The Flea, the orchestration of which includes wind, sixteen domras, three bayans, flexaton and percussion, produced such works as the cantata Battle for the Russian Land (1944), an effective example of its patriotic genre, and the quintessential Soviet opera, The Decembrists (1925-1953).

The most convincing composer of a Socialist Realist style was Georgi Sviridov (born 1915), for its limitations suited his own temperament. His work, influenced by Kursk folk-songs, reflected another trend promoted by the Soviet authorities, the inclusion in classical music of the widely varying folk-musics of the different `autonomous Republics'. Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935) provided a model in his best known works, the two colourful, late Romantic suites of Caucasian Sketches (No.1, 1894, No.2, 1896). Uzeir Gadzhibekov (1885-1948) established an Azerbaijani nationalistic style, although the first Azerbaijani opera was by the Ukrainian ReinholdGlière (1875-1956), whose ballet The Red Poppy (1927) was the first Soviet ballet to present an heroic revolutionary theme, and who maintained official approval throughout his career. Their example was followed by Fikret Amirov (born 1922). Zakhary Paliashvili (1872-1933; see under `Georgia') pioneered the application of Georgian music to classical forms. Otar Taktakishvili (born 1924) has written Georgian operas and his Symphony No.2 (1953) was based on Georgian themes. The most notable of the Soviet composers who based much of their art on folk influences was Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978, see under `Armenia'), whose was at his best when incorporating Armenian colours and scales, and at his worst when attempting the full-blown Soviet epic. This nationalist trend continued throughout the Soviet period: the music of Daghestan was incorporated into the colourful suite from the ballet Gorianka (1968) by Murad Kazhlayev (born 1931).

The new generation of mainstream composers was represented by the lyrical neo-Romantic idiom of Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987), and by the unfortunate figure of Tikhon Khrennikov (born 1913), who as Secretary-General (1948) and Chairman (1949) of the U.S.S.R. Composers' Union until 1991 imposed the official line. His own music is unimaginative and undistinguished, although the song `We should be ploughing' from the opera The Storm (1939) is exceptionally beautiful in a simplistic fashion, and is worthy of exploration by male-voice choirs. His shallow Pia no Concerto No.2 (1974) opens with a 12-tone row, as if trying to emulate the coming freedoms, but quickly establishes the home key of C major. The four early symphonies (1928, 1929, 1934-1935, 1935) of Vissarion Shebalin (1902-1903) show his early influences (Borodin andMiaskovsky, his teacher, in the Symphony No.1), his interest in abstract structure (the passacaglia, fugue and coda in Symphony No.3) and his involvement in Soviet themes (the two-movement Symp hony No.4 is dedicated to the heroes of Perekop, the site of an heroic action in the civil war). This aspect of Shebalin's output is exemplified in the Dramatic Symphony `Lenin' (1931-1932) for soloists, chorus and orchestra, which is one of the first of the particularly Soviet genre of the 'song-symphony'. Planned originally as a much larger work, the text is a poem by Mayakovsky on the death of Lenin, but the first of three rather disconnected movements is purely instrumental, and much the most alluring in a work that is otherwise only of historical interest. However, most of his output avoided political or social themes, and besides some orchestral works, is dominated by the abstract form of the string quartet.

In 1948 a wave of repression was triggered by the gentle dissonances in the opera The Great Friendship (1947) by the otherwise innocuous Georgian composer Vano Muradeli (1908-1970). The attacks, led by Andrei Zhdanov, included condemnation of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Miaskovsky, and Knipper; Shebalin especially suffered, ironically after winning a State Prize in the same year - one of his denouncers was his pupil Khrennikov. The definition of formalism was widened, and it is an indication of the complete exclusion of Western musical trends since the 1930s that when Rodion Shc hedrin (born 1932) called for opportunities to hear Western contemporary music in a brave article in 1955, he was referring toMahler, Debu ssy and Ravel rather than Webern, Mess iaen or Boulez. The 1950s were perhaps the bleakest period of Soviet music. While Shostakovich managed to produce powerful works that responded to the darkness of the times, he also had to write the most Soviet of his symphonies, the programmatic eleventh and twelfth, and his Soviet Realist works of this period are his most banal. Shchedrin, the bright young light of Soviet music, was composing in an idiom that would have found a home fifty years earlier, relieved only by his perky humour. Mosolov, the epitome of the revolutionary 1920s, was reduced to writing pretty but vacuous suites and popular choruses on folk-themes. The symphonist Mosei Vainberg (born 1919) was praised for his `reorientation', and partly turned to the inspiration of folk musics as a safe solution.

The thaw of the Khruschev period was musically led by Shostakovich, whose collaborations with the young poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Symphony No.13 `Babi Yar', 1962, and The Execution of Stepan Razin, 1964) challenged Socialist Realism. Younger composers such as Viacheslav Ovchinnikov (born 1936), whose Symphony No.1 (1960; the S ymphony No.2 for strings is actually earlier, being a 1972-1973 revision of a 1956 work) is a fine, emotive work well worth the discovery, could still descend into the banality of the cantataSong-ballad of BAM Builders (1974) for bass, chorus and orchestra. Shchedrin accumulated some of the tricks and techniques of the Western avant-garde, though without integrating them into a personal and individual idiom. The Ukrainian Boris Liatoshinsky (1895-1968; see under `Ukraine') encouraged his pupils to explore the new Western ideas, but the most prominent promoter of new ideas was Edison Denisov (born 1929), who became president of the revived Association of Contemporary Music. In the 1960s he became interested in serialism and in chamber works for unusual instrumental combinations, but his best known work is the rather elusive Symphony (1987; he has also written a Chamber Symphony, 1983), swaddled in dense layers of overlapping blocks of sound, somewhat in the manner of the Polish avant-garde, miasmically opposing the principles of light and darkness, broken into by high tuned percussion and bells. Its power comes from the clash of themes representing this opposition, and the conflict and resolution following those clashes, with sometimes the darker forces gaining the upper hand, sometimes a dense but limpid beauty and vivid colouristic effects. His other works include the opera L'écume des jours (1981), concertos, and song-cycles. Boris Tishchenko (born 1939) came to prominence with theCello Concerto No.1 (1959, apparently orchestrated by Shostakovich) for cello, seventeen wind instruments, percussion and harmonium or organ, an intense, troubled, sometimes slightly mawkish work with a long, very spare and impassioned solo cello opening setting the tone. His symphonies have preferred five-movement forms. The Symphony No.3 (1966), inspired, like the Requiem (1966), by Akhmatova's lament for her politically murdered husband, is divided into a long opening arc, `Meditation', with four movements, and a shorter `Postscript'. Written for a chamber-sized orchestra, its troubled woodwind emphasis, shot through with anxiety, evolves into haunting, disembodied orchestral effects with plaintive woodwind and brass solos reminiscent of his teacher Shostakovich, culminating in the `Meditation' with the brief introduction of two wordless solo voices. The magnificent Symphony No.5 (1974), again in five movements, is a tribute to Shostakovich, quoting and remoulding in a more modern guise major passages from his teacher's most important works, as well as quotations from Tishchenko's own music. The symphony, with its plaintive opening and close, is also a commentary on the Soviet epic symphony, prepared to show darker, more turbulent emotions and the viability of an alternative epic utterance. TheViolin Concerto No.2 (1982) follows the Shostakovich tradition of mawkish irony on a symphonic scale. Tishchenko may emerge as one of the major Russian voices of his generation, an essentially traditional composer who has effectively absorbed aspects of more recent musical developments. Of other composers of this generation, the later harmonic touches and colours of Andrei Petrov (born 1930) suggest an awareness of such Western composers asBerg and M essiaen. His idiom is contrapuntal, and includes a mawkish humour; the `Poem' To the Memory of the Victims of the Siege of Leningrad (1965-1966) for strings, organ, four trumpets and percussion (including piano used percussively) is perhaps his best known work in the West (under various English translations of the title), the chromatic harmonic vocabulary used to rather heavy-handed effect rather than as substance. His opera Peter I (1972-1975) is on the grandest scale and the most weighty historical subject.

Other composers who worked in styles that did not meet official expectations still await a proper evaluation. Prominent among these is Galina Ustvolskaya (born 1919), who seems to have been ignored rather than censured during the Soviet period; she seems to have completely avoided any necessity to write Socialist Realist works. Her chamber music has a tough, uncompromising emotional tone, close to Sho stakovich, whose later works she may have influenced. The dark Trio (1949) for violin, clarinet and piano stands as a more introverted companion to Shostakovich's Piano Trio . In a similar vein, and not only one of her finest works to appear but also one of the masterpieces of the Russian chamber repertoire, is the grim and insistent Octet for two oboes, four violins, timpani and piano. The twin poles of the piano and the timpani, sometimes like a funeral drum, sometimes like gun-shots, revolve around the central core of strings and wind, moving towards an atonally dissonant thematic idiom with a sharp acerbic edge. If there was ever music that reflected the intellectual desolation under the iron vice of repression, this is it. Of her piano sonatas, the Piano Sonata No.3 takes Bach as a model, while the unconventional Piano Sonata No.5 (1986), in ten movements, carries echoes of her earlier sparse style in a deconstructed and very bare idiom of sharp contrasts, dissonant outbursts, movements stripped to the bare bones, and passages of insistent, almost motoric, chordal repetitions. This idiom of this sonata had been heralded in the Duet (1964) for violin and piano.

The two major younger composers in the U.S.S.R. in the 1960s and 1970s were little known in the West until the 1980s, when they both achieved widespread international prominence. Arvo P ärt (born 1935) will be found under his home country of Estonia. Alfred Schnittke (born 1934), the most important Russian composer of his generation, has evolved an eclectic mainstream idiom of considerable emotional power, especially in works using large orchestral forces. Sofia Guba idulina (born 1931) has attracted attention with her neo-Romantic, sparse idiom that displays a spiritual intensity and sometimes uses religious symbolism. Shchedrin seemed to have finally evolved a personal and individual idiom in the 1980s. Of the other younger Russian composers who have absorbed post-Soviet techniques, Elena Firsova (born 1950) and her husband, Dmitri Smirnov (born 1948), many of whose compositions invoke the English poet William Blake, left Russia in 1991.

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GLAZUNOV

GLIÈRE

GUBAIDULINA

KABALEVSKY

MEDTNER

MIASKOVSKY

PROKOFIEV

RACHMANINOV

SCHNITTKE

SCRIABIN

SHCHEDRIN

SHOSTAKOVICH

STRAVINSKY

SVIRIDOV

VAINBERG

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GLAZUNOV Alexander Konstantinovich

born 10th August 1865 at St. Petersburg

died 21st March 1936 at Paris

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Alexander Glazunov is a prime example of a composer whose artistic imagination failed to match his exceptional gifts and his technical facility. His career spanned the change from the Romantic era to that of experimental modernity, with which he was familiar through his Directorship of the St.Petersburg (later the Leningrad) Conservatory (1895-1928); among his pupils were Miaskovsky and Prokofiev. He himself gradually evolved from Russian Romanticism to a sterner classicism, and was one of the last composers in the Russian 19th-century tradition, although unlike most of his precursors he concentrated on tone poems, ballets and symphonies, and he did not compose an opera.

The two main features of his work are a vibrant sense of orchestration, learnt from of one the greatest orchestrators of any age, his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), and a consistent sense of optimism. There is little that is dark or troubled in any of his work, and this absence is one of the reasons for its ultimate failure; another is his inability to create really memorable themes within a style that so often requires them.

His eight symphonies (a ninth was not completed) were all written between 1880 and 1905, and are consistent in their general approach and in their technical means. Movements are often monothematic, and Glazunov built his material by the extensive manipulation of those themes (sometimes bringing them back in other movements, exemplified in the motto theme of the Symphony No.2 op.16, 1886), including a renewed guise in completely different orchestral colours, and by building up ideas from short fragments. Ultimately the lack of interesting development, and sometimes of interesting counter-material, becomes tedious. Finales are usually more notable for their exuberant noise than their invention, and the scherzos, when Glazunov could draw on his flair for colour and rhythm, are generally the most successful movements. Perhaps the symphonies are better appreciated if approached more in the spirit of colourful orchestral scores than for their symphonic language. The Symp hony No.1 op.5 (1880) is an extraordinarily assured work for someone who had not reached the age of 16, and was responsible for the important and distinguished Russian publishing house, Belyaev, whose founder was so moved by the first performance he determined there and then to publish music. The Symphony No.3 op.33 (1892, possibly 1890) was dedicated to Tchaikovsky, while the Sy mphony No.4 (1893) is subtitled The Lyrical - the happy influence of his ballet music is evident in the scherzo. The Sy mphony No.5 op.55 (1895) has more epic pretensions, with echoes of Wagner, though again its scherzo is the most successful movement, with celesta and glockenspiel prominent in the atmospheric orchestration. In the Symphony No.6 op.58 (1896), Glazunov's increasing interest in a more formal classical style is evident in the intermezzo third movement, in an almost neo-classical style. Otherwise this is the symphony most overtly indebted to the example of Tchaikovsky. The Symphony No.7 op.77 (1902) has sometimes been singled out for praise, and its mood reflects its intentional allusion to Beethoven's Pastoral symphony in its F major key and in the open fifths of its opening theme. Its scherzo quotes from a Slav folk tune. The Symphony No.8 op.83 (1905) has attracted both the most adherents and detractors. A ninth symphony, begun in 1910, was left incomplete at Glazunov's death.

The Violin Concerto op.84 (1904), perhaps Glazunov's best-known work, follows the tradition of the virtuoso violin concerto. Its lyricism is unashamedly Romantic, and the attention is focused on the flowing solo line, further emphasized by the seamless three-movement form, played without a break. Glazunov's typical lack of a really memorable theme is a handicap, but it is redeemed by the song-like nature of the solo writing. The Saxophone Concerto op.109 (1934) is a beguiling work, of chamber proportions, cast in one movement. Written for alto saxophone, there is no suggestion of jazz influence, but rather a gentle pastoralism, as if we were being slowly transported by the lazy movement of the soloist's boat down a pleasant river, with its varying river-bank scenery. But the best music is Undoubtedly that for the balletsRaymonda op.57 (1896-1897) and The Sea sons op.67 (1899-1901), once a perennial favourite in concert programmes and still refreshing in its colours and vivacity. Some of the large number of smaller orchestral works, such as the tone-poemsSpring op.34 (Vesna, 1891) and S tenka Razin op.13 (1885), telling the story of the Cossack rebel-hero, display Glazunov's virtues at their best, while minimizing the weaknesses. They lack the punch of depth of similar works byBax, S uk or Sibelius, but make pleasant diversions; American readers might respond to the Tri umphal March op.40 (1892) that creates an indeed triumphal version of the American song `John Brown's Body', while just avoiding bombast.

Glazunov was historically an important figure both as a link between 19th-century Russian music and 20th-century Russia, and as a dedicated and skilful, if conservative, teacher. With Rimsky-Korsakov he was also responsible for the sorting and preservation of Borodin's music (he reconstructed the overture and sections of Act III of the opera Prince Igor from his prodigious memory). He emigrated to Paris in 1928 when the Soviet regime became more repressive after the death of Lenin, and it was there Prokofiev found him, a rather pathetic and broken alcoholic figure. The Vi olin Concerto and the two major ballets seem destined to survive for their exuberant colour, and certainly are a worthy change for jaded palettes. For Glazunov's is music to be indulged in, rather than approached with intellectual acumen.

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works include:

- 8 symphonies

- Concerto ballata for cello and orch.; 2 piano concertos; saxophone concerto; violin concerto; Chant du ménéstrel,Melodie and serenade espagnole for cello and orch.; 2 Serenades for horn and strings

- overture Carnival, 2 Concert Waltzes,Cortège solennel, Finnish Sketches,From Darkness to Light, From the Middle Ages,Idylle et rêverie orientale, Intermezzo romantico,Introduction and Dance of Salome, Karelian Legend,The Kremlin, Lyric Poem,March on a Russian Theme, Oriental Rhapsody,Overture solennelle, 2 Overtures on Greek Themes,Poème épique, The Sea, Scènes dansante,The Song of Destiny, Spring, Stenka Razin, Triumphant March, Wedding March and other works for orch.

- Elègie for cello and piano; Rêverie for horn and piano; 7 string quartets (No.7 Hommage au passé); Novelettes and Suite for string quartet; saxophone quartet; string quintet and other chamber music

- 2 piano sonatas; Grand valse de concert, Theme and Variations and other works for piano

- 21 songs; 3 cantatas; other vocal works

- ballets Les ruses d'amour, Raymonda and Seasons; incidental music

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recommended works:

ballet Raymonda op.57 (1896-1897)

Saxophone Concerto op.109 (1934)

ballet The Seasons op.67 (1899-1901)

Symphony No.7 op.77 (1902)

Symphony No.8 op.83 (1905)

Violin Concerto op.84 (1904)

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GLIÈRE (GLIER) Reinhold (Reyngol'd) Moritzovich

born 11th January 1875 at Kiev

died 23rd June 1956 at Moscow

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The prolific Reinhold Glière, of Belgian descent, was the grand old man of Soviet composition. His revolutionary credentials were solid enough (he prudently left Russia for two years in 1905, having signed a protest manifesto), and his music, firmly rooted in the Russian Romantic tradition and generally avoiding the darker or more tragic moods, could be upheld as a model against `formalism'.

Of his more than 500 compositions only a few, mainly orchestral works, are likely to be encountered. The Symphony No.1 in E-flat op.8 (1899-1900) is an assured if derivative work in the tradition of Tchaikovsky, with a perky scherzo that could have come from a ballet score and a general youthful exuberance. The Symp hony No.2 in C minor op.25 (1908) is an altogether finer work, while maintaining the same tradition, with something of the towering monumentality of Sibelius in the first movement. The rest of the symphony is less inspired but maintains its interest, especially in the variations of the third movement and the thrust of the finale; the symphony is well worth investigation by those who enjoy the still undervalued genre of the late-Romantic symphony. Glière's masterpiece is generally considered to be the Symphony No.3 `Ilya Murometz' (1910-1911). The full scope of this programmatic symphony is epic, some 90 minutes in length, and it is usually heard in versions that cut it down to a more manageable size; opinions are divided as to whether in its full length it outstays its welcome, or whether it needs to be heard in its monumental whole. Vibrant, teeming, and heady, with a first movement heroic in tone and scale, its has a sensuous abandon in its atmosphere and tone-painting, with Impressionistic touches in the second movement. But perhaps his best work is the gorgeous tone-poem The Sirens op.33 (1908), musically invoking not the Mediterranean but the misty Nordic world of Sibe lius, as if the sirens were calling from the fjords, combined with a rich, almost Impressionistic orchestral tapestry, a fervour worthy of Bax, and a Russian sense of purpose in the rhythms and the main melodies.

The most popular work by Glière has probably been the ballet The Red Poppy (1927), the first Soviet ballet to present an heroic revolutionary theme, here set in China. It is a model of Soviet Socialist Realism: a traditional harmonic idiom, clean poster-paint colours tinged with Eastern exoticisms, and a suitable touch of sentimentality in the tunes; the `Scene and Dance with Goldfingers' will particularly appeal to devotees of epic Hollywood film scores. Its success was followed by that of the ballet The Bronze Horseman (1949), based on Pushkin; both works are expertly crafted for the ballet stage. The unashamedly Romantic and attractive Harp Concerto (1938) has maintained a precarious hold on the repertoire, in part because of the shortage of such works.

In the 1920s Glière made extensive studies of the indigenous music of Azerbaijan, and later Uzbekistan and his home area of Ukraine. The opera Shah-Senem (1925, revised 1934), utilized Azerbaijani folk-songs, telling the story of a poor champion of the people who wins the hand of the Princess (of the title) in a musical contest, and eventually gains her after an uprising of the people. Of his later operas,Hulsara utilized Ukrainian folk-music, Rachael was based on Guy de Maupassant, and Madem oiselle Fifi was set in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.

Glière was director of the Kiev Conservatory (1914-1920) and taught at the Moscow Conservatoire (1921-1956). His many pupils includedKhachaturian, Knipper,Miaskovsky, Mosolov and Prokofiev.

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works include (from over 500 works):

- 3 symphonies (No.3 Ilya Murometz)

- cello concerto; harp concerto; horn concerto; 3 piano concertos; concerto for soprano and orch.; violin concerto

- The Sirens, The Zaporozhye Cossacks and other works for orchestra

- Eight Pieces for violin and cello; 4 string quartets; 3 string sextets; string octet and many other chamber works

- much piano music

- more than 200 songs

- operas Hulsara, Mademoiselle Fifi, Rachael and Shah-Senem

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recommended works:

Symphony No.2 op.25 (1908)

Symphony No.3 Ilya Murometz op.42 (1909-1911)

ballet The Red Poppy (1927)

The Sirens op.33 (1908) for orchestra

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GUBAIDULINA Sofia

born 24th October 1931 at Christopol (Tartar Republic)

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Sofia Gubaidulina is one of the Soviet composers who emerged after glasnost, and immediately attracted some attention outside the (then) U.S.S.R. Her avant-garde techniques were presumably responsible for her obscurity before the cultural relaxations, and are presumably also responsible for the interest of Western commentators curious to encounter a more `advanced' ex-Soviet composer. Like a number of other eastern European composers who came into prominence in the 1980s, her music is imbued with an intense spirituality, exemplified in the Seve n Last Words (1982) for bayan, cello and string orchestra, where the bayan (a type of accordion) represents the human and the cello the spiritual.

Nonetheless, her idiom still seems, as far as one can tell, to be lagging behind developments in Western music, and there is no evidence that her music holds any extraordinary qualities to equal those of the major composers of the avant-garde period of the 1960s and 1970s; there may be an irony that some Western commentators have only been prepared to turn to such experimentations when allied to an extra-musical social and political context. For example the Homage to Maria Svetayeva (1974) for unaccompanied choir uses many of the choral devices familiar to the 1960s avant-garde, from cluster effects to half-spoken passages and pointillism; it is quite effective (especially with the element of rich Russian bass lines), but less striking than a host of similar choral works from the Europe of the 1960s and 1970s. Gubaidulina also shows a predilection for the techniques of instrumental lines and the manipulation of instruments, sometimes creating the effect of two or more instruments acting almost independently, as in the bare lines and plucking effects of the introvertedString Quartet No.3 or in the five movements of Rejoice! for violin and cello, inspired by Ukrainian philosopher Grigory Skovoroda; indeed these effects are more interesting than the rest of the content. A similar concern for bare lines emerges in Hommage à T.S. Eliot (1987) for octet and soprano, where the octave swoops, given harmonic uncertainty by being set against a contrasting note (for example a major seventh) are reminiscent of late Shostakovich. The voice has only a small part to play, and the effects include very tonal fanfares from the horn, eventually creating an atmosphere that recalls Bri tten; the piece was composed in both English and Russian versions of the texts, drawn from The Four Quartets.

Among her more effective works to so far emerge is the violin concerto Offertorium (1979-1980). It opens with a theme from Bach's Musical Offering, creating a 12-tone row (though with repeated notes), and treated pointillistically among the instruments in the manner of Webern. Various devices are then used to suggest `conversion', such as the shortening of the theme by one note at the beginning and one at the end in a series of variations. The last of three sections reconstructs the theme from the centre out, but in reverse; in the coda, the final D of the original theme (omitted from the opening statement) is given to provide resolution. This highly organized formal structure is of interest in itself, but also as a background to the expressive qualities of the work. The first section covers a wide range of textures and colours, with telling details of instrumental emphasis and effects, and moments creating hushed expectations of impending mysteries, the whole a kind of discursive exploration. The middle section concentrates on a beautiful, hymn-like meditation from the soloist with an accompaniment giving the effect of an improvisatory folk orchestra; the third section is a return to the more fragmented moods of the first, and knowledge of the structure is useful in threading through what might otherwise seem rather fragmented ideas.

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works include:

- symphony Stimmen...Verstummen

- bassoon concerto; piano concerto; violin concerto Offertorium; concerto for orchestra and jazz band; Seven Last Words for cello, bayan and string orch.

- In Croce for cello and organ; Garden of Joy and Sadness for flute, harp and viola; 3 string quartets and other chamber works

- Hour of the Soul for mezzo-soprano and wind orch.; Night in Memphis for mezzo-soprano, chorus and orch.

- film scores

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recommended works:

Hommage à T.S. Eliot (1987) for octet and soprano

violin concerto Offertorium (1979-1980)

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KABALEVSKY Dmitri Borisovich

born 30th December 1904 at St.Petersburg

died 14th February 1987 at Moscow

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The undemanding and melodious idiom of Dmitri Kabalevsky, firmly rooted in the harmonies and structures of the 19th century, commended him to the Soviet authorities. However, if a large number of his works reflect political aims (such as The Song of the Party Membership Card, 1956, for chorus and orchestra), there are a number that happily reflect his cheerful and lyrical voice, unencumbered by political messages, and which will give pleasure to many.

Chief among these are the three concertos written with young people in mind (though not necessarily to be played by the less experienced), neo-classical in form and in the clarity of orchestration, but with a Romantic lyricism. The glory of the Violin Concerto op.48 (1948) is the bitter-sweet lyrical outpouring of the slow movement, that requires a mellow richness of solo tone for full effect. Its simplicity is perfectly judged (as in the arpeggio solo passages over the theme in the orchestral violins), and it is framed by a dancing opening movement that flashes by at a canter, and a finale that gradually changes the mood to the boisterous and the perky. Within its intended limitations this is a most infectious concerto. The other two youth concertos follow a similar format. The Cello Concerto No.1 op.49 (1948-1949) is again richly lyrical, its slow movement more lamenting as if haunted by past tragedy, and the finale has a pleasant folkish lilt. The Piano Concerto No.3 `Youth' op. 50 (1952) has its memorable moments, but has too many pale reminders of Rac hmaninov, Shostakovich (of the first piano concerto) and especially Pro kofiev to achieve an independent identity.

Of his symphonies, the first two include chorus and are on patriotic subjects, while the Symphony No.4 (1954) has a very beguiling opening movement, the beautiful, slow, plaintive opening being countered by an epic theme and by lyrical tone-painting. The slow second movement has musical connections with the opera The Family of Taras, and continues the plaintive-epic mood; the scherzo is a waltz, and if the finale is too brazen and obvious for comfort, this is an attractive if undemanding symphony. The suite The Comedians op.26 (1940) used to be quite well known; based on music for a children's play, it is bright, perky, and well orchestrated, belonging to the world of the Pops orchestra.

The best-known of his operas is Colas Breugnon op.24 (1936-1938, also known as The Craftsman of Clamecy), based on the novel by the French writer (and excellent music critic) Romain Rolland. Rolland was displeased with the libretto, and Kabalevsky revised the opera first in 1953, and then again, as op.90, in 1969, attempting to return the libretto to the spirit of the book and its central character. The setting is 16th-century rural France; the hero is a carver and sculptor, for whom laughter and a bubbling joy of life overcome misfortunes. There is little of the direct social comment common in Soviet operas, although the Duke and the priest are given unsympathetic portraits. The setting, which covers some 40 years, is in a folk-opera style, full of pleasant tunes and a completely tonal, lyrical idiom. There is no attempt to use the musical opportunities of the period; idiomatically, the setting could be 19th-century Russia, and even the `Dies Irae' is in Orthodox style. The libretto is perhaps more interesting than the music, and the colourful overture is better known than the whole opera, which is perhaps as it should be. The opera Before Moscow (1942) concerned the events of the repulsion of the Nazis at Moscow in 1941, and heroine of The Family of Taras (1944-1947), based on Gogol, is a young Komsomol woman. Kabalevsky's songs include settings of Shakespeare sonnets.

Kabalevsky was a member of the PROKOLL group in the 1920s, which experimented with collective composition. His piano pieces for children and beginners are particularly recommended; they range from the extreme simplicity of A Game from op.39 to complex and exacting pieces, all written with a charm that makes an interesting alternative to the usual repertoire, and with a specific skill developed or tested in each piece.

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works include:

- 4 symphonies (No.1 Proletarians Unite for chorus and orch.; No.3 Requiem for Lenin for chorus and orch.)

- 2 cello concertos; 3 piano concertos; violin concerto;Prague Concerto for piano and strings; rhapsody School Years for piano and orch.

- suite The Comedians, Music for the Memorial in Bryansk,Overture Pathétique, suite Romeo and Juliet,The Spring, Symphonic Prelude in Memory of Heroes of Gorlovka for orch.

- Études for solo cello; cello sonata; Rondo for violin and piano; 2 string quartets;

- songs including Three Songs of Revolutionary Cuba

- 3 piano sonatas; 2 piano sonatinas; Recitative and Rondo, Twenty-Four Preludes and other piano music

- Requiem; oratorio Letter to the 30th century; cantataLeninists; Our Great Fatherland,People's Avengers, Poem of Struggle andThe Testament for chorus and orch.; The Motherland, Songs of Morning, Spring and Peace and Youth Parade for children's chorus and orch.

- ballet Vasilek

- operas Before Moscow, Colas Breugnon, The Golden Spikes, Nikita Vershinin and Sisters; operetta Spring Sings

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recommended works:

Cello Concerto No.1 op.49 (1948-1949)

Symphony No.4 in C min op.54 (1956)

Violin Concerto op.48 (1948)

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KHACHATURIAN - see ARMENIA

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MEDTNER (METNER) Nikolai Karlovich

born 5th January 1880 at Moscow

died 13th November 1951 at London

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A composer of few works but of refined sensibilities with classical tendencies and a Romantic imagination, Medtner left Russia in 1921, living in Germany (1921-1924) and Paris (1926-1936), and finally settling in Britain. Apart from three piano concertos and some 100 songs, all his output was for piano or smaller chamber forces, and has enjoyed a small revival since the 1970s. His music might have fallen into complete obscurity had it not been for the Maharajah of Mysore, the patron of a Medtner Society that arranged, from 1948, for Medtner to make recordings of his compositions.

On hearing the Piano Concerto No.1 op. 33 (1914-1917), it is not difficult to see why Medtner has his adherents: at the base, an easily assimilable idiom in the tradition of the 19th century, an unthreatening harmonic idiom, an unusual construction to keep the intellectual attention, and enough unexpected rhythmic and harmonic effects to add a twist of modernism without undue threat. Constructed in one movement in sonata form, with each section of the form acting as the equivalent of a movement, it opens in the grand virtuoso Romantic manner, but immediately its chromatic twists and rhythmic irregularities and shifts indicate an unusual sensibility, as if the composer, avoiding the deeply worn ruts of a well travelled track, had started a new set a few feet away, one constantly revolving and undulating. The idiom might be described as Rachmaninov with more difficulties and volatility, a fascinating anachronism trying to draw out 19th century sensibilities into the 20th (one would scarcely credit without knowing its dates that the composer had witnessed the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution during its composition). Within those limitations, it is a work of great accomplishment and interest, and for those incapable of moving beyond the 19th-century in their musical idiom, it will enrich their repertoire. By the Piano Concerto No.3 op.60 (c.1940-1943), the idiom had become even more reminiscent of early Rachmaninov, in phrasing, in the relationship between the soloist and orchestra, and emotional mould, the rhythmic irregularities and chromaticism less evident than in the first concerto, combined with occasional echoes of Tchaikovsky. But it is not entirely a clone (as is, for example, the Harty piano concerto) and there is enough conviction in the consistent lyrical flow to make this concerto well worth hearing for those who enjoy such an idiom.

The twelve piano sonatas follow much the same idiom and pattern as the concertos, with formal designs contained in single spans, internally divided into sections corresponding to movements, and often with a single linking idea. The other piano music ranges from the delightful and precocious Stimmungsbilde op.1 (1896-1897) to ten opus numbers of Fairy Tales, a series of miniatures that cover much of his compositional life. Another fine work which occupied much of Medtner's life is the Piano Quintet op.posth. (1903-1949), which by the standards of 19th-century conventions is unusual in form, the weight shifted to the finale (the only sonata movement), which includes themes from the previous movements. It must be said that if one heard this work blind one would be fairly astonished to discover that it was written in the 20th century.

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works include:

- 3 piano concertos

- 3 violin sonatas (No.2 Sonata epica); 3 Nocturnes for violin and piano; piano quintet and other chamber music

- 12 piano sonatas; Hymns in Praise of Toil,Improvisations, 10 sets of Fairy Tales, 3 sets of Forgotten Melodies, Lyric Fragments, Novels and other works for piano; Knight-Errant and Russian Round Dance for 2 pianos

- Sonata-Vocalise for voice and piano; many songs, including cycles based on Goethe and Heine and settings of Pushkin and Nietzsche

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recommended works:

Piano Concerto No.1 op.33 (1914-1918)

Piano Concerto No.3 op.60 (c.1940-1943)

Piano Quintet op.posth. (1903-1949)

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MIASKOVSKY (MYASKOVSKY) Nikolai Yakovlevich

born 20th April 1881 at Novogeorgievsk (near Warsaw)

died 8th August 1950 at Moscow

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The music of the prolific Nikolai Miaskovsky has been overshadowed by that of his contemporary Prokofiev and the younger Shostakovich, but after those two composers he is the major Russian symphonist of the first half of the century. He has the reputation of an extreme conservative, but this is mistaken, largely based on such later works as the Vio lin Concerto and the Symphony No.23. For while neither a harmonic nor a formal revolutionary, he developed a complex and unsettled idiom within the forms and general harmonic usage of a continuing tradition, much as did the symphonies of B ax or Vaughan Williams, before turning to a simpler and more direct utterance. The emotional struggles in these works are as 20th-century as those of such contemporaries (Miaskovsky himself described the struggle as that between subjective emotional response and objective classical serenity); what they lack are the distinctive personal idiomatic touches that might have secured him a more lasting place in the repertoire. Nonetheless, the sincerity of that struggle is palpable in the best of his works, and well worth hearing. Through all his output runs a streak of melancholy or nostalgia, often counterpoised by brighter material as if Miaskovsky was determined to overcome it. This emerges as a lament for transience, particularly that of the countryside (overt in the Symphony No.5); there is a strong pastoral streak in his music, which in his late works evolves into echoes of folk idioms.

At the heart of his output are twenty-seven symphonies and thirteen string quartets. His earlier works were influenced by Scriabin, obvious in such works as the P iano Sonata No.3 (actually the eighth written), where the heavily chromatic, quasi-improvisatory writing has a similar heady atmosphere of the visionary mystic. The Symphony No.3 (1914), in two-movements, still shows the influence of Scriabin and G lière, but Miaskovsky then developed a symphonic idiom of complex shapes, unusual construction (often built on thematic cells, and sometimes with two or one-movement structures), and within the basic dichotomy already outlined, turbulent emotions, all founded on a traditional sense of harmony and structure. The Sym phony No.5 (1918), in four movements, seems to reflect the contrast between the former peacefulness of the countryside Medtner saw on the retreat from Galicia while serving in the army, and the horrors of the war. It opens with forest murmurings, and a lovely broad counter theme, while the lullaby second movement has a dark, unsettling, nightmarish aspect. A Galician Christmas carol is used in the trio of the bucolic scherzo. The fine Symphony No.6 (1922-1923) for chorus and orchestra, using folk-song, French revolutionary songs and the Dies Irae, reflected his growing social awareness. The Sym phony No.7 (1922) brings the turbulent emotions to the fore in a musically unsettled mood where there are touches of Mahlerian influence in the treatment, if not layout. The two movements are played without a break, creating the feel of one span, especially as the theme of the first movement returns in the second. The concise span of the Sym phony No.10 (1927) makes it one of the most effective of his symphonies, with a murmuring opening at which Miaskovsky was so skilled, and a general contrast between a plaintive and a disturbed, angry mood. The Symphony No.12 (1931-1932) symbolized life on the collective farms, and the introverted Symphony No.13 (1933) and the Symphony No.17 (1936-1937) have been highly regarded. By the Symphony No.21 (1939-1940), a short, one movement symphony that progresses from the big and brazen towards a warm, noble mood, the emotional content had become held over longer spans, with less sudden change. The Symphony No.22 (1941) reflected the events that preceded it (the peace before the war and the Nazi invasion) in one movement divided into three sections. With the very attractive Symphony No.23 (1942), subtitled `Symphonic Suite on Caucasian Themes', Miaskovsky moved to a simpler, very direct idiom incorporating folk-music elements, partly out of a belief in reaching the widest possible audience. The heart of the work, which is probably his best known, lies in the first two of three movements: the first a slow and melancholic mood framing a fast and perky dance, unmistakably in a folk idiom in the rhythms, melodies, and colours, and a lyrical slow movement in the mould of 19th-century Russian nationalism. The finale (unlike so many Soviet symphonies, which attempt the huge and triumphant) is a suitably short folk-dance with a contrasting melancholic passage. This clean-cut, straightforward symphony is close to the later symphonic idiom of Miaskovsky's close friend Prokofiev, and indeed shares themes with the latter's String Quartet No.2. Perhaps the finest of all his symphonies is the last. The Symphony No.27 (1949-1950) harks back to an Edwardian idiom, and is valedictory in tone. Inexplicably, given the open, easily approachable nature of his later music, Miaskovsky had been denounced in the notorious Zhdanov decree of 1948 for `formalism', and this symphony was his answer; he was also dying of cancer. The slow opening music lays out one of his country landscapes, but the slow movement is full of a new sad valedictory power, opening with rich brass sonorities in an idiom that recollects Dvorák's ninth symphony. The finale movement has a nobility worthy of Elgar, and an attempt at a triumphal march that ends in a minor key. This sincere and moving work should be far better known.

Of his other works, the Sinfonietta (1929) uses solo violin passages in the first and second of three movements, but is of little interest. Far more appealing is the Vio lin Concerto (1938), in an unashamedly lyrical Romantic idiom, with an exceptionally long cadenza in the first movement and a pastoral slow movement. The Cello Concerto (1945) has an Elgarian nobility. A lighter side of Miaskovsky is seen in the sunny Lyr ic Concertino (1929) for string orchestra, full of country pictorialism (including the effect of a hurdy-gurdy) and an intense but gentle slow movement, as if describing a landscape at dusk. This shy and introverted composer was also capable of self-assertive musical jokes. The String Quartet No.3 (1909; actually the second, but published third), written while Miaskovsky was still a student, opens with a theme using letters from the name Edvard Grieg, whom he admired but whom his teacher Liadov despised. The second movement contains a musical code for the words `Beware of Liadov'. It is otherwise an innocuous and mournfully beautiful work.

Miaskovsky was himself a celebrated teacher, and among his pupils at the Moscow Conservatory, where he taught from 1921 to 1950, wereKabalevsky and Kha chaturian.

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works include:

- 27 symphonies (No.6 with chorus); 2 sinfonietta (for small orchestra; for string orchestra)

- cello concerto; violin concerto; Lyric Concertino for strings

- Alastor, Divertimento, Festive Overture, From the Entire Soul, Silence

- 2 cello sonatas; 13 string quartets

- 9 piano sonatas; 3 books of Children's Pieces, Fancies,Links (also orchestrated), Souvenirs, The Yellowed Pages for piano

- Madrigal for voice and piano; settings of Lermontov

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recommended works:

Cello Concerto (1945)

Symphony No.5 (1918)

Symphony No.6 (1922-1923)

Symphony No.7 (1922)

Symphony No.10 op.30 (1927)

Symphony No.17 (1936-1937)

Symphony No.21 (1939-1940)

Symphony No.23 op.56 (1942) Symphony No.27 (1949)

Violin Concerto (1938)

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PÄRT (sometimes spelt Pärt, Piart, Pyart)

see under ESTONIA

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PROKOFIEV Sergei Sergeievich

born 23rd April 1891 at Sontsovka (Ukraine)

died 5th March 1953 at Moscow

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The music of Sergei Prokofiev is one of the delights of the 20th century. Never academic, rarely intellectual, only sometimes profound (but then forcibly so), it always shows the distinctive stamp of the musical character and incisive, sometimes compulsive, and yet supremely lyrical temperament of its composer. For Prokofiev is the 20th-century composer who best understood the power and artistic impact of fantasy. At its artistic best, fantasy allows an artist whose natural bent is optimistic and joyfully bright a freedom of expression that retains those qualities without being hackneyed or commonplace. It also has the power to contain more profound statements and emotions than its surface gloss would suggest, often obliquely, especially in an ironic cast or through the archetypal areas of programmatic or stage works. All these qualities Prokofiev had in profusion, sometimes extending fantasy into the fantastical, but always with a wealth of imagination. Only when he became literal (notably to meet the requirements of Soviet realism) does that imagination and that fantasy flag, and fortunately those times are relatively few and far between.

Perhaps the supreme expression of fantasy in music is the ballet, with its expression of archetypes, and it is no coincidence that Prokofiev became one of the greatest ballet composers of all time. Yet the other major expression of his genius comes at the other pole of musical expression, and is still far too little known by many music-lovers. Prokofiev's series of nine piano sonatas (a tenth was left incomplete) represent the major contribution to the genre by any composer in the 20th century: Prokofiev was himself a brilliant pianist. If the earliest represent a youthful and still maturing composer, the later sonatas are the closest Prokofiev came to an expression of his private, interior world.

There are two distinct strands in Prokofiev's musical make-up, and both intertwine with varying prominence through his entire output. The first (which was also the first to emerge in his adult works) is mercurial, aggressive, brilliant, experimental and sometimes shocking, which gave him the reputation of an enfant terrible. Associated with it are clashing dissonances (always used against a tonal backdrop), driving, pulsing and sometimes motoric rhythms, and the impact of repetition. This side of Prokofiev was linked to his piano playing and writing, cascading with notes and textures. The other side is lyrical, often tender, sometimes dreamy, and capable of extending into the grand or the epic. Associated with this aspect are Prokofiev's lovely long-limbed tunes, a clarity of orchestration that loved the lower tones of the woodwind, provided a bass line constantly on the move, and delighted in the punctuation of brass or bright, upper range instruments. This side is exemplified by his ballets; but in both cases, Prokofiev's music is hardly ever still, and the march, from the grand to the tongue-in-cheek ironical, usually occurs somewhere in a Prokofiev work. The sweep comes in the long tunes, rarely in extended still passages, and even in these moments of long-phrased lyricism the lower voices are usually mobile and plastic or else creating repetitive ideas. This impulse, imparting an enthusiasm for life, is one of the happiest characteristics of the composer. In his best works, both these strands appear to varying degrees, modifying each other. His structures are usually Classical in origin, but he inclined towards episodic ideas rather than closely argued development, again an advantage in such genres as the ballet.

Prokofiev's output is also complex, embracing a wider variety of genres and styles than those only familiar with his best-known works might suspect. Like Shostakovich, it is further complicated by the presence of some works of lesser quality that were clearly written for political correctness, though Prokofiev, with his natural bent towards writing music that would appeal to people, suffered artistically less than his contemporary. Setting aside his prodigious childhood output, his earliest works are mostly brilliant and explosive. He settled in France in 1920, and gradually the lyrical aspects of his musical personality came into prominence. He revisited the USSR in 1933, returning permanently in 1936. For the main part, his idiom then became simplified, and this period includes his best-known ballets. However, he bore the main brunt of Zhdanov's attacks in 1948, and suffered a heart attack in 1949, and his last works have generally been held to reflect adversely the effects of these events. His major works are to be found among his seven symphonies, his seven concertos, his nine completed piano sonatas, two of his operas and two of his ballets, but there are enough works in other genres to confound such an easy classification.

Two of Prokofiev's symphonies are among his most commonly heard works. His first symphony is a work of astonishing vitality, verve, and consummate proportions. The title of Symphony No.1 `Classical' op.25 (1917) describes the tone of the work: Prokofiev threw off any shackles of the Romantic tradition in the genre by producing a symphony that looked back to the forms and the proportions of a pre-Romantic age. By using chromatic devices to ease from key to key with fluidity he welded from this basis an entirely modern work - the first neo-classical symphony. It also allowed him to indulge in a favourite idiom, the dance, and in the kind of melodies that the dance can engender. It is a brilliant, instantly infectious work, dazzlingly executed, full of typical Prokofiev touches such as the quirky, jovial delight typified by pitting a solo bassoon against upper strings, or the contrasts of slower grandeur and rushing passages, the lower brass pumping almost motorically. Part of its contemporary feel is created by the fluent shifts between a chamber-orchestra sound (in Classical style) and a much larger, grander orchestral idiom. It has remained one of the most popular, if not the most popular, of all 20th-century symphonies.

The next three symphonies are much less well-known. The second and third symphonies reflect Prokofiev in his more daring, aggressive and modernist vein, and have generally been discounted as being too problematic. They burst with ideas, especially the huge orchestral textures of the first movement of the Symphony No.2 op.40 (1924-1925), with its massed lines of counterpoint: an amazing, garish, fascinating and brutal construct of the iron and steel, constructivism on the symphonic stage. One needs to be prepared for the onslaught to listen to it, and expect nothing of the lyrical Prokofiev. Its two-movement form is based on Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.32 op.111, the second being a theme and variations with some marvellously imaginative and memorable writing. The Symphony No.3 op.44 (1928), was built on material from Prokofiev's opera The Fiery Angel (see below), tones down some of the massive passion of the second, and again is full of stunningly inventive material and foretastes of the better known ballets, from the pastel tapestry of the andante to the huge, almost literal, orchestral slide into the abyss in the last movement. The problem with both these symphonies is that the ideas are so teeming that they are scarcely contained by the symphonic argument: one remembers individual passages rather than the overall cast or impact (and indeed some of Prokofiev's most memorable ideas and effects occur in these two symphonies). Within their symphonic limitations they both make for an exhilarating experience; if they do lack symphonic cohesion, that in part reflects the emotive range of a young composer who himself had not yet contained those experiences within a more mature framework. The Symphony No.4 op.47 (1929-1930) was also based on other material, the ballet The Prodigal Son , and is less extravagant than its immediate predecessors, although the symphonic argument is still weak in comparison to the first or the later symphonies, the home key of C major predominant. However, the contrasts of a surging drive and more pastoral material give the first movement real impact, while the balletic qualities of the original material delightfully intrude into the last (especially in the original version). It exists in two versions, due to a revision made by Prokofiev in 1947; he lengthened the symphony, adding introductions to all movements, and improved some of the developmental material, giving it the opus number 112. The first version is more biting, more earthy, perhaps more immediate; the second more symphonically cohesive, and orchestrally more assured. Preferences will depend on individual tastes, but in either version the symphony contains too much arresting material to be ignored.

In terms of structure, Prokofiev matured as a symphonic composer in the final three symphonies, and not merely because he simplified his style on his return to the Soviet Union. The proportions, both of emotional material and symphonic structure, are more controlled and better proportioned, and musical ideas more integrated into a whole, though some may regret the passing of the sheer raw vitality of the preceding works. These last three symphonies are similar in manner, very different in tone. The Sym phony No.5 op.100 (1944) has remained, with the first, the most popular of Prokofiev's symphonies, and understandably so. The epic grandeur of the first movement, mixed with a touch of the pastoral, the sleigh-ride delight of the substantial scherzo with an orchestration of sparkling snow, rumbling runners and the brightness of harness bells, a bitter-sweet slow movement that eventually reflects the war in which it was written in the insistent brass, and the boisterous delight of the finale, are instantly attractive and yet contain an undercurrent of deeper concern and unease. The Symphony No.7 op.131 (1951-1952) has often been criticized as being too easy, with the charm of the fifth but not the underlying substance. However, it was begun as a work for children, and it seems entirely appropriate that Prokofiev should complete his symphonies with a work that has elements of the child-like, though never child-ish. For it has a simple flow of appealing music (such as the magisterial theme of the first movement that returns at the end of the work) and if approached in the spirit of its origins it is entirely delightful. But Prokofiev's symphonic masterpiece is the Symphony No.6 op.111 (1945-1947). It is full of Prokofiev's characteristic musical fingerprints, but they are metamorphosed into vehicles for emotions of a darker, more introverted intensity rare in his output, closely argued in a three-movement form. The brutal chords of the opening will come as a shock to those used to Prokofiev's more easy vein, in the same fashion as the opening of Vaughan Williams' fourth symphony sounds so devastating to those only familiar with his pastoral mood. The march of the opening movement has uncomfortable undertones and a touch of menace, the slow movement opens in a terrible darkness, its own march biting and half-satirical, while the melodies of the lighter-hearted finale go harmonically awry, and the symphony ends in genuine tragedy.

Three of Prokofiev's concertos have a firm hold on the repertoire, and of these the best known is the Piano Concerto No.3 op.26 (1917-1921). The opening can be only described as Impressionistic, with a cascade of glittering notes after a clarinet introduction, but then the piano dashes into a short movement of dazzling fluency and drive; there is a marvellous sense of virtuoso fantasy here, as if a box of toy figures had been opened, and they were all rejoicing in their freedom. The central andante, a theme and variations, provides a complete contrast, with beautiful piano writing ranging right across the upper end of the keyboard, and a wide range of mood that includes the lazily mysterious. The finale provides another contrast: bubbling amusement, a hint of playful pomposity, a touch of the grotesque, the lyrical. The concerto is as fluent as the first symphony, and the combination of instant appeal and effortless virtuosity will give pleasure to the newcomer and the specialist alike. The Violin Concerto No.1 (1916-1917) is far less obviously a display piece: there is no cadenza, and the soloist and orchestra are essentially in consort rather than in dialogue. Its opening is gentle and exceptionally beautiful, leading the listener into an overall form in which two predominantly slower movements frame a faster one. The solo line is constantly singing, and there is a magical, fantastical section of high harmonics to the end of the first movement. The central movement full of bouncing, swooping delights and a more ponderous march, the soloist descending into gruffer regions. The finale opens with another march but is soon subverted to a more lyrical mood of song, both tender and melancholic and at the end delicately nostalgic. There is little that is sentimental about this concerto, but much that celebrates joy and beauty. The Violin Concerto No.2 op.63 (1935) is less well known but equally beautiful, more circumspect, thoughtful, expressing more of an uncomplicated inward contemplation than the ebullient out-stretched arms of its predecessor: no real fireworks, just a sustained lyricism.

However, some of the lesser-known concertos provide an equally remarkable, if less immediately appealing, experience. The short but entirely effective Piano Concerto No.1 op. 10 (1911-1912) opens with one of the most arresting opening ideas of any concerto, the piano creating a rising and falling phrase which seems to take flight, and which makes a brilliant moment of satisfying recognition as it returns at the end of the concerto to create a form in which each of the three movements are parts of an overall modified sonata form. The concerto is one of youthful brilliance, its occasional looks over its shoulder to the Romantic tradition are combined with more dissonant propulsion into modernism, and in the slow movement (influenced by Rachm aninov) the little upward runs punctuating the piano melody were an effect Prokofiev was to utilize regularly. When eventually a Wagnerian horn call rings out, the piano launches away into a spiky, cock-a-snoop cadenza, as if to say that one age is ending and another beginning. Indeed it was, and that change is taken further in the Piano Concerto No.2 op.16 (1912-1913, revised 1923). This work has often been heavily criticized, and perhaps it is only coming into its own in an age that more readily accepts artistic expression of the psychological turbulence of youth. The magnificent first movement, one of the finest in all the piano concerto repertoire, is a huge upwelling of emotion, combining motoric rhythms with more subtle and mysterious colours, leading to a gigantic cadenza of awesome power and a return of the orchestra that takes one's breath away in its inevitability and its impact. The whole movement is an expression of the yearning to break free, for this is a work of the grandeur (and sometimes the excess) of discovering one's powers, and many may dislike it precisely because of those bursting passions, uncomfortable both because of their semi-Romantic concerto context and because few of us like to be reminded of the power of our youthful aspirations. The rest of the concerto is not as arresting as this opening movement and is too long, but still contains some memorable writing; the concerto is worth discovering for the first movement alone. Both the first two concertos will be occasionally encountered, but the fourth and fifth have fallen into obscurity. The rather ponderous Piano Concerto No.4 op.53 (1931) was written for the left-hand only. It is chiefly of interest for the restrained beauty of its slow movement, apart from the sheer virtuosity of the one-handed piano writing. The five-movement Piano Concerto No.5 op.55 (1931-1932) is more interesting, though neither concerto has the impact of the earlier works. The Cello Concerto op.58 (1933-1938) was extensively revised to form what is essentially a new work, the Symphony-Concerto for cello and orchestra op.125 (1950-1952), in which form it is more usually encountered. It is a long and substantial work in which the soloist takes an equal place with the orchestra (as the revised title would imply); its overall tone is gentle and rather ruminative, and it can be an effective work when in the hands of a soloist with powers of a rich and expressive tone.

Piano music forms a substantial part of Prokofiev's output. Three of the first four sonatas have their origins in student works, the second and third are revisions or rewritings, both carrying the subtitle`D'après des vieux cahiers' (`From old notebooks'). The Piano Sonata No.1 op.1 (1909) originally had three movements, but Prokofiev published only the allegro, thus making a short, obviously derivative, but energetic and pianistic work. The much longer four-movement Piano Sonata No.2 op.14 (1912) is the exception to this group, as it is not a revision of an earlier work. Its writing is incisively clear-cut, but tamer than many of Prokofiev's works of the period, with a lovely lilting Russian feel to the slow movement as if Mussorgsky's oxen-carts were somewhere in the back of Prokofiev's mind, and a typical lithe, running cast to the finale, like swift-running rivulets spinning over slower eddies. The short one-movement P iano Sonata No.3 op.28 (1917, rewriting of 1907 sonata) is the best known of the earlier sonatas. It opens in a torrent of notes before settling down to a typically melodic second subject and a tempestuous development out of which the more tranquil mood emerges triumphant. In the beguiling Piano Sonata No.4 (1917 from 1908) two quicker movements frame the major attraction of this sonata, a slower andante that explores an evolving and gently fantastical soundscape, from a sense of the march to a lilting lyricism that heralds the later Prokofiev, all hued with touches of dissonances like sharp colours in a autumn landscape. Any traces of derivative elements have disappeared by the Pi ano Sonata No.5 op. 38 (1923), revised as op.135 in 1953. It is Prokofiev in his delicate vein, full of charm; chromatic colours and running threads add shades to a delightful sonata whose andantino has elements of child-like fantasy, and where perhaps only the very ending of the whole work fails to convince. In the Pi ano Sonata No.6 op.82 (1939) Prokofiev expanded the layout into four movements, producing a work of symphonic proportions. There are echoes of the `barbaric' young Prokofiev, but now combined with simplified, clearer textures, less violently driven by juxtapositions of contrasting material. The next two sonatas, both in B flat major, are among the masterpieces of the piano repertoire. The Pi ano Sonata No.7 op.83 (1939-1944) has become the best known of the sonatas, and a challenge to pianists for the power and control it requires. Its angular opening idea announces the uneasy edge that pervades the whole sonata. The march into which this develops is equally uncomfortable; the quiet, lyrical moments of the first movement are touched with anxiety; much of the slow movement inhabits the lower, darker reaches of the keyboard, and its central climax reaches up towards the ecstasy of the cadenza of the second piano concerto without the same sense of hope and confidence. All this is framed by the rhythmic drive of the faster sections of the opening movement, and the dynamism of the last, marked `precipito', one of the most mercurial movements Prokofiev wrote. Recurrent themes reiterate with pounding force, especially the hurtling and menacing three-note idea of the finale (which made its brief first appearance in the piano cycle Visions fugitives). The Piano Sonata No.8 op.84 (1939-1944) is more introverted, but no less powerful. The first movement is Beethovenesque in its feel and import and almost symphonic in scale, with a development section of tragedy and anguish combined with angry utterance; a sense of fate stalks through this music, framed by the quieter hiatus of the opening and the close. The short second movement opens with even clearer reminders of Beethoven, albeit to a more jaunty rhythm, the whole composed of irony combined with nostalgia. The third movement follows without a break, mercurial, insistent, sometimes motoric, ultimately terrifying and despairing, with references to the opening movement of the second piano concerto and to Chopin's B flat minor piano sonata. It seems simply unbelievable that such heartfelt and searching music as the sixth, seventh and eighth sonatas should have been singled out and condemned by the Soviet authorities in 1948 as too complicated. Perhaps even more than Shostakovich's work (which almost always had elements of protest) these three sonatas stand as bulwarks against the madness of cultural philistinism and dictatorship. The four-movement Pia no Sonata No.9 op. 103 (1947) explores a different tone to the wartime sonatas. At its base is a classical simplicity and clarity, the harmonies following a more classical pattern, the textures leaner, the feel more ruminating, the rhythms calmer. But by no means is it a simplistic work; in it, more than any of the other sonatas, Prokofiev seems to be conducting a lovers' dialogue with the keyboard for its own sake, albeit it a muted one - an interior close to the sequence that asks for contemplation and meditation on the part of the listener.

Besides the sonatas there is a considerable body of other piano music, ranging from the fiery to the music of affection and lyricism for children. The famous Suggestion Diabolique is the final piece of Four Pieces op.4 (1908-1909); all four short pieces look back to the heavy chromaticism and virtuoso style of Liszt, and the final piece is a furious helter-skelter, its diabolic tone based on the use of the tritone (once associated with the devil), even more effective when the first three pieces of the set have already been heard. Yet more rigid in its ferocity, and much more motoric in its repeated 16th notes is the Toccata op.11 (1912). Both these works represent Prokofiev the enfant terrible. More organized, and more assured, while still maintaining the element of experimentation, are the five Sarcasms op.17 (1912-1914): the jerky, granular No.2 is one of the few Prokofiev pieces without a key, while No.3, propelled by ostinati, has two simultaneous keys. No.4 is especially effective, the initial bell sounds set against a high scanning right-hand eventually turning into something very delicate - sarcasm is but one aspect of this effective set. The finest of these piano sets, and Prokofiev at his most seriously experimental, are the Visions fugitives op.22 (1915-1917). Composed of 20 short pieces, they are largely introspective, delicate, sometimes moving into a more emphatic tone (as in No.XIV, Feroce), but throughout there is a strange disembodied effect, both intimate and distancing and often with a ghostly beauty, created in part by the consistent use of the high, bright registers of the keyboard.

Prokofiev was the most important composer of classical ballet since Tchaikovsky. His musical style, itself so full of movement, was ideally suited to expressing movement, and through that movement, character. He had an unerring sense of conjuring up musical atmosphere for the ballet stage, to such an extent that the suites from his ballets have achieved widespread popularity in their own right. The only one to have fallen into oblivion is On the Dnieper op.51 (1930), originally commissioned by the Paris Opéra. His first ballet, Chout op.21 ( The Buffoon, 1915, revised 1920) has a story too unfortunate, initially violent, and typically Russian, to receive regular staging, in spite of its strong irony: a buffoon apparently whips his wife to death, brings her back to life again, and encourages seven friends to do the same, but without the same outcome. The rest of the ballet humorously describes his successful attempts to elude their revenge. But the music is atmospheric and lively, with dissonant energy and vitality, and is usually heard in the form of a twelve section suite (op.21a). P as d'acier op.41 (The Age of Steel, 1925) reflects the iron and steel of its title. It is a mixture of the constructivist and the lyrical Prokofiev, with a touch of jazzy syncopation, and is interesting precisely because of its mechanistic elements. The music for The Prodigal Son (1928-1929) is best encountered in its reincarnations in the two versions of the fourth symphony. But it was with Romeo and Juliet op.64 (1935-1936), based on the Shakespeare play, that Prokofiev matured as a ballet composer. His ability to portray anger and conflict as well as lyricism was ideally suited to the subject, and he produced a score of passion, immediacy, and rhythmic drive, the characters and the events vividly drawn, at his best in the music surrounding conflict (`Montagues and Capulets', `Tybalt's death') rather than in the love music between Romeo and Juliet, whose urgent teenage sensuous passion was less well suited to Prokofiev's lyricism than the romantic purity of the subject of his next ballet, Cinderella, where the love music is finer. Ro meo and Juliet is most likely to be heard in the first two of the three suites Prokofiev drew from the ballet (No.1 op.64a, 1936, No.2 op.64b, No.3 op.101, 1946), which have become staples of the orchestral repertoire. Both these first two suites actually contain differences from the ballet, which was revised during the first rehearsal (after the two suites had been made) to reduce the orchestral weight. Many conductors also create their own preferred suite, drawing from the three Prokofiev himself made. Cinderella op. 87 (1940-1944) is his finest ballet, classical in format and full-length in scale. The characters are sharply drawn, the flow of melody continuous, the invention of effect, colour and atmosphere on a consistently high level. Above all, Prokofiev identified with and understands the spiritual rather than physical love of the main character, and there are three moods associated with Cinderella in the ballet: the abused, the chaste and pure, and the happy woman in love. The complete ballet, although long, is so fine that it is worth encountering it in its entirety, but there are also three orchestral suites drawn from the ballet (op.107, 108, 109, all 1946), as well as a three sets of piano pieces (op.95, 1942, op.97, 1943, and op. 102, 1944), and an Adagio for cello and piano op.97a (1944). Prokofiev's final ballet was another large-scale work, in four acts with a prologue. The S tone Flower op.118 (1948-1953) reflected his love of the Ural mountains, for its scenario is drawn from Pavel Bazhov's Ural Tales. Danilo wishes to craft a malachite vase as simple and as beautiful as a live flower; he follows the spirit of the stone that he releases, and the ballet follows his adventures, including being shown a wondrous stone flower and being tested for his love of his Katarina. The central theme - wishing to capture simplicity and beauty - is a metaphor for Prokofiev's own compositional desire, and if the ballet does not have the tuneful immediacy of Cinderella, he succeeded in creating a score of clarity and simplicity with a background of folk-song, without being patronising or shallow. For those who already know the earlier ballets, it makes for interesting further exploration; Prokofiev made a short suite of three of the 46 sections, which is occasionally heard.

Two of Prokofiev's operas have achieved widespread recognition, and they could scarcely be more contrasted. Love for Three Oranges op.33 (1919) combines the composer's love for the fantastical and the fairy tale with his enjoyment of irony and satire. Based on a farce by Gozzi, it tells the story of a Prince afflicted by the melancholic humours, who, on laughing at a witch, is cursed - he will not be happy until he falls in love with three oranges and they with him. This he does, aided at one point by the critics in the opera-house boxes rushing on stage to revive the desiccated princess (who was, of course, one of the oranges). The opera satirizes the traditions of Romantic opera, but is exceptionally entertaining in its own right, and its march has become famous. Prokofiev turned some of the music, including the march, into a suite (op.33a, 1924), and although the opera is regularly performed, it is this suite which is more likely to be encountered. War and Peace (1941-1943), based on Tolstoy's epic novel, is now recognized as a masterpiece, but is rarely performed because of its huge scale and the forces required, and any production is a major international event. Its genius lies in the conviction with which it reduces and contains the massive spread of the novel to the operatic stage, and in the expression of both individual and large-scale collective emotions. Prokofiev assumed a knowledge of the novel, and for audiences approaching the reduction to eleven scenes, a basic knowledge of the plot of the novel is helpful. The scenes are divided between those involving more intimate individual relationships and grand-scale panoramas expressing collective concerns, centred around the Battle of Borodino; the action concentrates on the events of 1812, rather than the events of the first part of Tolstoy's novel, but is divided into two parts, peace and war. The score is on a consistently high level of achievement, moving easily from grandeur to intimacy, and its highlights include Prokofiev's integration of the waltz into the general texture, and the famous and stirring aria for the Russian field-marshal Kutuzov, eventually reiterated at the end of the opera by the whole chorus. Prokofiev's other operas are less well-known. Maddalena op. 13 (1911-1913) is a very early work (and had been preceded by five childhood operas). The Gambler op.24 (1915-1917, revised 1927-1928) is based on a story by Dostoyevsky. Much more effective is The Fiery Angel op.37 (1919-1926), based on Bryusov's (autobiographical) novel of passionate, obsessive love, combined with religious fanaticism, the Inquisition, and madness, set in medieval times. Prokofiev latched on to the psychological aspects of the obsession with his music, producing a score in his aggressive, enfant terrible style that is worth encountering for its passionate power, but which fails overall in dramatic and musical structure (unknown to Prokofiev, while composing the opera he was actually living in Paris next door to the woman who inspired the novel). Semyon Kotko op.81 (1939) was an attempt to write an opera about ordinary people for ordinary people, and was based on Katayev's novel about a Ukrainian partisanI, Son of the Working People. The oddest of these operas, The Story of a Real Man op.117 (1947-1948) was another attempt to produce an opera for the common populace, based on a story by Polevoi of an airman who has a leg amputated, but succeeds in returning to action. Both these operas have passages of musical and dramatic interest (the love scene in Semyon Kotko, some of the interactions in the hospital in Story of a Real Man) but both are doomed by their librettos. Perhaps the opera of most interest after the two famous works is Betrothal in a Monastery op.86 (1940, first performance 1946), where Sheridan's comedy of errors (the source is the play The Duenna, and the opera is sometimes known - incorrectly - by that title) suited Prokofiev's gift for ironic humour and perky comedy. The basis of the story, turned into a libretto by Prokofiev's second wife, Mira Mendelssohn, is the old tale of old men desiring to marry young women, and being thwarted by a welter of subterfuges. The style harks back to opera buffa, but with the magic of Prokofiev's orchestral colours and a strong Slavic injection when the setting moves to the monastery of the title. It is a vivid and entertaining work.

Besides these series of works in a specific genre, there are a number of Prokofiev scores that have either become very well known or deserve to be. Chief among these must be Peter and the Wolf op.67 (1936) for narrator and orchestra, which is as perfect a score as he ever wrote, and one of those very rare works of art that appeal in differing ways to both children and adults. A separate instrument is assigned to each of the characters in the simple but resonant story of Peter's capture of a wolf that has been prowling around the farm, thus making the work also a guide to the orchestra. The musical characterization, of both animals and humans, is a delight, but so is that of the action, using the full range of Prokofiev's mastery of bright and direct orchestral colours; the narration has the advantage of being alterable to suit current educational philosophies. Those who enjoy this work might like to explore two delightful, if less brilliant, scores, Summer's Day op.65a (1941, from Music for Children for piano) for orchestra, and Winter Bonfire op.122 (1949) for reciter, boys' chorus and orchestra. The Scythian Suite op.20 (1914-1915) is a reworking of the discarded early ballet A la and Lolly. Clearly under the influence of the `barbaric' elements of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, it takes the orchestral expression of violent primitivism yet further, rolling together touches of exotic orientalism, aggressive ostinati, and dissonant and brilliant orchestral effects. If it lacks the finesse of Stravinsky's ballet it has an exuberance that has ensured it a regular place in the repertoire. Two of Prokofiev's film scores have become regular concert works in their own right. The story of the film Lieutenant Kijé was exactly one to appeal to Prokofiev's sense of fantasy and irony: due to a clerical error the Czar believes in a non-existent lieutenant, so that rather than admit the error, a complete life and death is invented for the fictitious character. Prokofiev's witty and tuneful (if lightweight) response is to be found in the pictorial and brilliantly orchestrated suite that he drew from the film, Lieutenant Kijé op.60 (1934). The work he drew from the 1938 film Alexander Nevsky, telling of the Russian hero of the 13th-century war with Sweden, is very different, for he turned it into a full-scale cantata, Alexander Nevsky op.78 (1939) for mezzo-soprano, chorus and orchestra, which has become one of the best-known of all Russian choral works. It manages to be epic without being bombastic, as well as extending the Russian choral tradition, and at its centre is the famous depiction of the battle on the ice, almost completely orchestral, in which Prokofiev combined his sense of aggressive orchestral colour and motoric rhythms with his lyricism to unforgettable effect. The passage is even more exciting when heard in its original context of the film. In the same mould, and also based on music for an Eisenstein film, is the oratorio I van the Terrible op.116 (1942) for narrator, soloists, chorus and orchestra, successfully arranged into oratorio form by Abram Stasevich. This has sections which rival the earlier film score in power and effect, but is less concise. There are also two particularly effective and little known choral works. The experimental Seven, They are Seven op.30 (1917-1918, revised 1933 and sometimes known as They are Seven) is a brief but explosive work for chorus and orchestra that reflects the contemporary Constructivist movement. The Cantata on the Twentieth Anniversary of the October Revolution op.74 (1937, not to be confused with the completely vacuous Festive Poem for the Thirtieth Anniversary of the October Revolution , op.113, 1947, or the Cantata on the Thirtieth Anniversary of the October Revolution, op.114, 1947) is not at all the Soviet socialist realist hack work one might expect; based on various texts describing the experience of the revolutionary events, it is scored for huge forces, two choruses, military band, accordions, percussion and orchestra. Those who enjoy A lexander Nevsky may care to investigate this work; it has the same direct, urgent impulse.

There are number of smaller-scale works which are also of interest. The attractive Violin Sonata No.2 op.94a (1943-1944) is actually a reworking of the Flute Sonata op.94 (1943), though it has, with its apparently entirely natural and idiomatic violin writing, entirely overshadowed the original. The overall tone is Classical and restrained, the models Haydn and Handel, and it has perhaps found more favour with performers than audiences, for it misses some of the sparkle characteristic of the composer. The Ove rture on Hebrew Themes op.34 (1919) for clarinet, and piano quintet is a compelling and direct score using two Hebrew tunes that are mutated into Prokofiev's own voice; there is an orchestral version, but it is much more effective in chamber form. Of the two string quartets, the String Quartet No.2 op.92 (1941) was influenced by Caucasian folk music, and has a beautiful slow movement.

Prokofiev remained all his life a pianist (touring extensively between 1914 and 1936) and composer, and did not teach. His diary-autobiography of his early life reveals a writer of considerable charm and talent. He died an hour before Stalin; the news was withheld so as not to conflict, an irony he himself would probably have appreciated.

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works include:

- seven symphonies (No.1 Classical)

- Sinfonia-Concertante for cello and orch.; 5 piano concertos; two violin concertos

- 1941, American Overture (original version for 17 instruments), Anniversary Poem, Autumnal Sketches, Divertissement, Dreams, Egyptian Nights, Festive Poem for the Thirtieth Anniversary of the October Revolution , suite Lieutenant Kijé, Ode to the End of the War,Pushkin Poem, Russian Overture, Symphonic March,Symphonic Song, Scythian Suite, The Volga Meets the Don and Waltzes for orch.; numerous suites from the ballets for orch.

- solo violin sonata; 2 violin sonatas; sonata for two violins; 2 string quartets; oboe quintet; Overture on Hebrew Themes for clarinet and piano quintet (also orch.

- 9 piano sonatas; Sarcasms, Things in Themselves, Thoughts, Music for Children, Visions Fugitives and other piano music, including piano suites from the ballets Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet

- Five Poems by Akhmatova, The Ugly Duckling and other song cycles for voice and piano

- cantatas Alexander Nevsky,Cantata on the Twentieth Anniversary of the October Revolution,Cantata on the Thirtieth Anniversary of the October Revolution,Seven They are Seven, To Stalin, and The Unknown Boy; oratorio On Guard for Peace; choral suite Winter Bonfire for boys chorus and orch., and other works for chorus and orch.

- ballets Chout (also known as The Buffoon),Cinderella, On the Dnieper, Pas d'acier,The Prodigal Son, Romeo and Juliet and The Stone Flower; many suites and other arrangements from the ballets

- operas Betrothed in a Monastery, The Fiery Angel,The Gambler, Love for Three Oranges, Maddalena,Semyon Kotko, The Story of a Real Man, and War and Peace

- film music, notably Ivan the Terrible, and incidental music

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recommended works:

cantata Alexander Nevsky (1939)

opera Betrothal in a Monastery op.86 (1940)

ballet Cinderella (1940-1944)

suite Lieutenant Kijé (1934) for orchestra

opera The Love for Three Oranges (1919)

Overture on Hebrew Themes (1919) for chamber ensemble

Peter and the Wolf (1936) for narrator and orchestra

Piano Concerto No.1 (1911-1912)

Piano Concerto No.2 (1924-1925)

Piano Concerto No.3 (1928)

Piano Sonata No.3 (1917)

Piano Sonata No.5 (1923, revised 1952-1953)

Piano Sonata No.6 (1939-1940)

Piano Sonata No.7 (1939-1942)

Piano Sonata No.8 (1939-1944)

Piano Sonata No.9 (1941)

ballet Romeo and Juliet (1935-1936)

Sarcasms (1912-1914) for piano

Scythian Suite (1915) for orchestra

Symphony No.1 (1916-1917)

Symphony No.7 (1951-1952)

Symphony No.6 (1945-1947)

Symphony No.5 (1931-1932)

Symphony No.4 (1929-1930)

cantata They are Seven (1917-1918) for soloists and orchestra

song cycle The Ugly Duckling (1914)

Violin Concerto No.1 (1916-1917)

Violin Concerto No.2 (1935)

Visions fugitives (1915-1917) for piano

opera War and Peace (1941-1943)

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bibliography:

Prokofiev, S. Diary 1927 and other writings, London, 1991

E. & L. Hanson Prokofiev, New York, 1964

H. Robinson Sergei Prokofiev, New York, 1987

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RACHMANINOV Sergei Vassilievich

born 1st April 1873 Oneg estate, near Novgorod

died 28th March 1943 at Beverley Hills

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Almost all who compose largely in the styles and idioms of the preceding generation are doomed, at most, to a passing fame. They fail to reflect the potency and concerns of their own age, and almost inevitably lack the depth of understanding of their predecessors. However, once in a while an artist appears who is incapable of working in any other idiom than those of an earlier generation, and yet has the genius to infuse something new into that idiom. Sergei Rachmaninov was just such a genius. He was for much of the century reviled because his style, especially in his piano works, seemed to belong more to the age of Tchaikovsky than to the era in which he worked (and certainly could not be associated with any of the moods of European events after 1905).

Rachmaninov's works fall into fairly distinct periods separated by near silences through force of circumstance and his arduous tours as one of the foremost pianists of his day. His earlier music was especially influenced by Tchaikovsky and Chopin, culminating in the Symphony No.1 (c.1895-1897). The success of the Pi ano Concerto No.2 (1900-1901) heralded his most productive years, with a spate of works until 1917 that reflected his mature, nostalgic idiom of haunting beauty. From 1927 until his death he produced six major works where the nostalgia is replaced by a more rugged and positive beauty. His appeal is founded on a melodiousness whose main features are nostalgia and beautiful regrets, wrapped in languishing cadences; all his symphonies and piano concertos are in minor keys. This basic appeal to sentiment (much less overt in the last works) has infuriated some critics, and his treatment until recently has often been shabby. For such sentiment is a perfectly valid aspect of the human experience, and it was Rachmaninov's singular achievement to express it in musical structures and idioms that are never trite and usually exceptionally accomplished. Against a strong streak of melancholy and a nostalgic regret for things past is set a desire for more powerful and positive utterance, and this basic struggle of Rachmaninov's personality provides an undercurrent to much of his music. It is this substratum that makes Rachmaninov much more than a spinner of beautiful, sentimental tunes in long cantabile lines, often with brilliant virtuoso pianistic effects.

His earliest works, such as the misnamed `Youth' Symphony (1891, probably intended as the first movement of an abandoned symphony), show a precocious technical command and musical imagination. They are heavily influenced by Tchaikovsky, and in the piano music by Chopin, though the finest of them, Prince Rostislav (1891) is a graphic tone-painting in the manner of Borodin, based on a ballad by A.K.Tolstoy. The form is tripartite (slow-fast-slow), and the misty waterscape of the opening especially atmospheric. Rachmaninov reached symphonic maturity with the Symphony No.1 (1895-1897), but he was so disillusioned with the reception of the first performance, apparently appallingly conducted by Glazunov, that he destroyed the score. However the parts survived, and the symphony was reconstructed and heard again in 1945. It emerged as one of Rachmaninov's finest works, heroic in tone, obviously indebted to Tchaikovsky and Borodin, but constructed with a flow of symphonic purpose and devoid of the kind of nostalgic limpid beauty that pervades his later work. The slow movement has real menace to its opening, before evolving into an almost Mahlerian intensity and scope, the finale that Russian blaze of uplifting glory, combined with a darker dramatic urgency, that was the inheritance of Tchaikovsky. With its Russian colours and sound and epic late-Romantic scale, it achieves what Glazunov's own symphonies so often attempted and failed. However, it does belong to the late 19th century, and it may appeal more to those with a love for pre-Soviet Russian music rather than those who enjoy Rachmaninov's later works. The Symphony No.2 op.27 (1907) is highly attractive and popular, but lacks the symphonic and emotional muscle of the first. The melodies are long and sentimental; the big, broad opening with yearning strings supported by a more rugged bass, and the lovely slow movement are most effective, but the brash close lacks incision. The Symphony No.3 (1935-1936) seems intended to have a brighter, more positive outlook, but the underground struggle with Rachmaninov's instinctive melancholia keeps threatening, especially in the last of three movements, where the emotional changes are swift and turbulent, with the hint of a Prokofievian mawkish march, and a descent almost into pathos in the penultimate bars. The broad cantabile melody of the slow movement haunts the memory long after the symphony has finished. Finer than any of these symphonies, but not nearly so well-known, is the symphonic poem The Isle of the Dead (1909). It was inspired by a painting by Böcklin, and in resonant dark colours and rocking and swelling tone-painting brilliantly creates an atmosphere of a slow crossing to the dark, mist-shrouded and mysterious island of the painting. It captures a combination of sea-scape and dream picture, perfectly judged in its form and effect, impelled from the lower depths of the orchestra, suggesting the silence and desolation, and interweaving the plain chant Dies Irae that became a recurring theme in Rachmaninov's music.

The Piano Concerto No.1 op.1 (1891, revised 1917) has, at least in its revised form, so many beautiful ideas in the bitter-sweet melodic style at which Rachmaninov so excelled, soaked in a sad nostalgia, that it is surprising that it is not better known. It carries with it a certain portentousness (especially in the very opening), where the student is attempting to emulate Tchaikovsky, but also a misty, rather restrained slow movement, and a youthful boisterousness in the final movement unmatched in Rachmaninov's later works. The Pia no Concerto No.2 (1900-1901) scarcely needs any introduction, as it is one of the best-known works of all classical music, with its opening of expectation breaking out into flowing melody, its haunting slow movement of beauty lost and gained, its glittering and brilliant finale, its virtuoso solo writing, and its general quality of the piano telling a tale (with, throughout, storytelling's rhythmic flow). It was one of the earliest examples of the success of psychoanalysis. Rachmaninov found it impossible to compose after the failure of his Sym phony No.1, and sought treatment with the early Freudian Dr. Nikolai Dahl; the concerto was the result. Much of its appeal is a combination of the sparkle of the solo writing and the allure of its sentiment. The Piano Concerto No.3 (1909) marks a new phase in Rachmaninov's writing where the emotion is more deeply imbedded in the music, just as the solo writing is more integrated with the orchestra. The finest of his concertos, it has a linear impulse, announced in the strolling rhythm and gentle insinuation of the opening (of such contrast to the grand 19th-century concerto opening), that is maintained throughout the piece and made all the more cohesive by thematic interrelations between the three movements. The orchestra and soloist do not compete, but rather support each other in the discourse, even when, in the middle movement of forcefulness rather than limpid beauty, the complex piano writing sets up a dominating tapestry. It is a work of complex and mature emotions, none stated starkly but rather eliding into each other, culminating in a kind of joyous satisfaction; it is also an exceedingly difficult work for the soloist, in part because Rachmaninov had a huge hand-span, and wrote accordingly. The concerto is sometimes heard with cuts sanctioned by the composer, but these are unnecessary. The rather diffuse Pia no Concerto No.4 (1926) has never achieved the popularity of the earlier works. It seems to be searching for a style, and rather unexpectedly it is the sparkling finale that contains the most attractive music. No such problems occur with Rachmaninov's last work for piano and orchestra, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934). The theme had already been used by Brahms, Liszt and Schumann, but Rachmaninov's is the most brilliant and satisfying treatment, in twenty-five variations with the theme stated in full after the first variation. The piano writing is brilliant and virtuoso, while range of emotional mood and colour is considerable, from grand power to the percussive Variation IX or the broken, almost pointillistic orchestration of Variation XVI. The Dies Irae plainchant threads through the work, and there is a glorious moment where a new treatment suddenly appears, as if out of nowhere, in Variation XVIII, Rachmaninov returning to his style of melodious beauty, capped by the scintillating spin of strings that follows.

The most powerful expression of Rachmaninov's pianistic imagination is to be found in the Twenty-Four Preludes for piano. This set consist of three groups: the famous C sharp minor Prelude (originally the second of the Morceaux de fantasie op.3, 1892); the Ten Preludes op.23 (1903); and the Thir teen Preludes op.32 (1910), which Rachmaninov decided to write to make a complete set of works, each in a different key, following Chopin. The C? minor Prelude allows a slow, almost cumbersome and very Russian tune to take flight. The op.23 Preludes are in the best tradition of such works, direct thoughts that simultaneously make statements about pianism and about inner emotions, influenced by Chopin, especially in the revolutionary atmosphere of No.5, and ranging from the heroic utterance of No.2, through the rippling flow of semi-quavers in No.8, to the unsettling lilt of No.9. The Op.32 set are more circumspect, exploratory and elusive, as if taking up an insubstantial element absent from the earlier preludes. The rhythms are more unsettled and shifting, and when characteristic melodies appear, as in No.9, they are encased in more complex surroundings. Op.32 No.10, one of the finest of the set, was inspired by another Böcklin painting, and the last turns the key of the C? minor Prelude into a euphoric D flat major. Of his other piano works, the most effective writing is found in the two sets of Études tableaux (1911 and 1916-1917) and the Piano Sonata No.2 (1913). After an inauspicious opening, the Cello Sonata (1900) is a fine, large-scale work with a delicate, withdrawn beauty even in the vigorous scherzo. In the lifts to moments of passion, the often florid piano writing impels the cello; the slow movement is more outward-looking and less limpid than one might expect for a work that followed the Piano Concerto No.2.

Rachmaninov's songs are yearningly melodious, equally effective in the piano versions or with the added colours of orchestration. Vocal lines are lyrical and flowing, sometimes ecstatically so; the accompaniment of the earlier songs looks back to Chopin, and is more integrated and individual in the later. If not usually profound, they are often exceptionally beautiful, and the major songs (such as How Fair this Spot, op.21 No.7, Lilacs op.21 No.5, orO Cease Thy Singing op.4 No.4, c.1890, or the glorious Spring Waters op.14 No.11, 1896) have become standards of the repertoire. The wordless Vocalise op.34 No.14 (1912) for soprano and piano is usually heard with its orchestral accompaniment, a sinuous nostalgic outpouring touched with melancholy; Rachmaninov made an orchestral version, assigning the vocal line to the violins. Rachmaninov also wrote three choral masterpieces, two of which are largely neglected. Kolokola (The Bells, 1913) for soprano, tenor, baritone, chorus and orchestra, is a large-scale, symphonically organized work based on an adaptation by Belmont of Edgar Allen Poe. In the first movement the bells are the jingle bells of sleighs, associated with birth and youth, in the second bells of marriage, in the third of terror and fire, and in the finale death, but death as a culmination, with a luminosity reminiscent of Strauss. This cycle of birth and death has a strong undercurrent of the Russian countryside and folk-music (especially in the rhythms of the last movement), but placed in sophisticated vocal and orchestral writing with an urgent energy and rich colours. As magnificent is the almost unknown Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom (1910) for unaccompanied choir. As in Tchaikovsky's earlier setting, there is little that is immediately recognizable as the composer's style, but instead a marvellous combination of Orthodox Church choral sound and modes, strong suggestions of Russian folk songs with their vistas of vast Russian landscapes, and complex choral writing with sonorous bass lines. The Vesper Mass (1915) follows a similar style.

Rachmaninov left Russia after the 1917 revolution, eventually settling in Switzerland, and moved to the U.S.A. in 1939.

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works include:

- 3 symphonies

- 4 piano concertos; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orch.

- Caprice bohémien, The Isle of the Dead and The Rock for orch.

- cello sonata; Elegiac Trio for piano trio; string quintet and other chamber music

- 2 piano sonatas; 2 sets of Études tableaux,Moments musicaux, Morceaux de fantasie,Ten Preludes, Thirteen Preludes,Variations on a Theme of Chopin andVariations on a Theme of Corelli for piano; Fantasie-tableaux and Suite No.2 for 2 pianos

- 77 songs

- cantata Spring; The Bells for soloists, chorus and orch.; Three Russian Songs for chorus and orch.; Liturgy of St.John Chrysostom and Night Vigil for chorus

- operas Aleko, Francesca da Rimini and The Miserly Knight

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recommended works:

Cello Sonata op.19 (1901)

tone poem The Isle of the Dead op.29 (1909)

Liturgy of St.John Chrysostom (1910) for chorus

Piano Concerto No.1 op.1 (1891 rev 1917)

Piano Concerto No.2 op.18 (1901)

Piano Concerto No.3 op.30 (1909)

Preludes op.3 (1892) for piano

Preludes op.23 (1904) for piano

Preludes op.32 (1910)for piano

tone poem Prince Rostislav (1891)

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini op.43 (1934) for piano and orchestra

Symphony No.1 op.13 (1895-1897)

Symphony No.2 op.27 (1907)

Symphony No.3 op.44 (1936)

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bibliography:

G.Norris Rakhmaninov, 1976

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SCHNITTKE Alfred Harrievich (also spelled Schnitke, Shnitke)

born 24th November 1934 at Engels

died 3rd August 1998 at Hamburg ---------------------------------------

Schnittke emerged as one of the major composers of the late 20th century, and perhaps the finest of the Russian composers in the generation after Shostakovich. Hardly known in the West until the 1970s, his achievement received rapid recognition after the collapse of hard-line Communism in the U.S.S.R. He composed within the tradition of symphonies, concertos, and chamber and vocal works, and there is a tonal base to his idiom, overlaid with the experience of 12-tone techniques, chromatic effects, and regularly a deliberate addition of a distant note or notes to give an ethereal, unsettled feel to what otherwise might be a conventional harmony. His eclecticism is legendary, borrowing from a multitude of musical sources, but is an integral part of his musical inspiration and method, firmly locked in to his own idiom. Usually such stylistic borrowings create a launch-pad from which his own music can take off, but sometimes they have allusive effects, such as the appearance of an idea from Britten's Billy Budd in the Symphony No.3, where a potent message is encrypted if one knows the words of the original chorus. Almost all his later works open and close with a quiet expressiveness or contemplation within which there is turbulent, often tragic drama.

Schnittke's earlier music followed conventional Soviet principles, and his later output includes over 60 film scores. However, following a visit by Nono to Moscow in 1962, he absorbed many of the techniques of the European developments of the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in the handling of dissonances, in the use of orchestral colours and sonorities (with bells and tuned percussion often prominent, and a harpsichord or celesta often woven into the texture), and in the juxtaposition of massed orchestral blocks of colour and timbre. After a period of serialism, which included the St ring Quartet No.1 (1966), and the development of collages that made reference to older musics, his idiom emerged in the mid-1970s in the mainstream of European composition. One strand of that idiom has explored a spare, lean, slow-moving, often ritualistic sound, relying on changes of sonorities, not dissimilar to that of rt. Another presents a larger, more monumental sound, sometimes emphasized by the contrast between urgent, driving counterpoint and more static blocks. A regular device is that of lines moving upward in steps, often cut away without resolution. In many of his later works, these two strands of his idiom are combined (most prominently in the C oncerto for Piano and Strings), and there is often a sense of distancing or alienation, as if the music was heard from far away through a distorting veil. Suggestions of earlier musics, like a half-triggered recall, continue to seep into his later works, but they are fully integrated into the contemporary idiom. His music, often dramatic in cast, presents an emotional impact and appeal in the Russian tradition, intended to reflect the human condition; the intellectual construct, although often formidable, is secondary to this drive. Again in common with Pärt, his music embraces a strong religious feel and outlook, and one of his favourite devices is an ending of ethereal beauty.

The most widely circulated work that includes synthesis of old musics is the Concerto Grosso No.1 (1976-1977) for two violins, strings, cembalo, and prepared piano. Built on an infectious pastiche of lively Baroque music, the underlying material is subjected to contemporary instrumental textures and transformations to give it an anachronistic gloss. Such refocusing of earlier material is quite widespread in modern music, but this particular example has a verve and sense of aural humour that ensures it is full of incident and entertainment. The `musical game' Moz-Art à la Haydn (1977) for two violins, two small chamber orchestras, double bass and conductor, is derived from music Mozart wrote for a pantomime, of which only the violin part survives. Various events (including sudden lighting changes) ensue, until the ending emulates that of Haydn's `Farewell' symphony. A later example is (K)ein Sommernachstraum ((Not) a Midsummer Night's Dream, 1985), which uses pastiche Mozartian and Schubertian tunes.

Schnittke's Symphony No.1 (1969-1972) pitted tonal against atonal elements, in an exploration of the continuing viability of the medium of the symphony. Something of that questioning of the possibilities still open to the symphonist survives in the Sym phony No.3 (1981), with part of the answer being an eclecticism of material, aural allusion, and pictorialism, that had been initiated by Mahler. A shimmering mass of glittering sonority opens the symphony, three times gaining in intensity to a mighty climax, in a kind of 20th-century equivalent to the opening of Wagner's Das Rheingold. Overtones build up, and then break away to form new overtones; the actual material of this study in sonority is derived from the monograms of over thirty German composers. This stunning first movement of considerable orchestral virtuosity acts as an introduction to the succeeding three, laid out in conventional form. The following allegro in sonata form has strong echoes of Shostakovich in its perky, waltz-like material, before moving into a typical counter-theme founded on scurrying ostinato strings; its climax includes an organ, and towards the end of the movement a piano is heard playing Mozart, as if from a far nostalgic distance, both in space and time. The short scherzo starts demurely, a kind of Prokofievian march overlaid with unusual orchestral colours, but it wanders into odder, more disturbed regions and a huge and menacing mechanism. It leads straight into the large, silent wastelands of the opening (for strings alone) of the final movement, following the example of the slow movement of Shostakovich's fifth symphony. This adagio finale is the longest movement of the work, aiming towards an ending that combines triumph with uncertainty before a peaceful close complete with bells.

The Symphony No.4 (1984) for piano, vocal soloists, choir and chamber orchestra is an odd work, both in symphonic layout and overall effect. Constructed in one movement divided into seven sections, it has a programmatic content: its inspiration is that of the Catholic rosary, and its relationship to the life of Christ (seen through Mary's eyes). Themes composed of tetrachords represent the Catholic, the Orthodox, and the Lutheran faiths, and a three-note theme represents ancient chant; all are brought together in the final chorus. None of this programme is necessary for the enjoyment of the work, which succeeds in purely abstract terms, though its liturgical origins are suggested by the overall tone. The second section is for piano alone, joined by the tenor; apart from a wordless counter-tenor vocalise, the other vocal forces appear only in the delicate and beautiful final section, with an archaic quality to a chant that builds in complexity, adding layers to reach a luminous climax and the sounding of bells that slowly die away. The symphony juxtaposes Schnittke's spare, austere style, as in the bell sonorities of the orchestra against piano and harpsichord in the opening, with his large-scale assertive utterances. The melodic material is often of gentle, slow-moving simplicity matched by the orchestral colours, but overlaid with harmonies that have the effect of distancing that simplicity. This strange but moving work, one feels, belongs in the cathedral rather than the concert hall. The Symphony No.5 (1988) also bears the title Conc erto Grosso No.4, the juxtaposition suggesting its general tone, with a metamorphosis of the Baroque style complete with an intermittent harpsichord continuo. The material of the second movement is based on the unfinished second movement of Mahler's early piano quartet. With its raucous climaxes and solo violin writing in the style of earlier Stravinsky, it has some interest as a concerto grosso, but as a symphony its grander vision seems too calculated.

Concertos form a major strand in Schnittke's output. The short Concerto for Oboe Harp and Strings (1971) has a typical quiet opening and close to its single arch movement. Funereal in tone, serial in style, it lacks the impact of many of Schnittke's other works. The piano concertos are unnumbered. The Piano Concerto (1960) is for piano and large orchestra, the second is titled Music for Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1964), and the one-movement third is titled Concerto for Piano and Strings (1979). In the last, material based on Russian Church music intertwines with that based on a 12-tone row, and the main theme is not stated in its entirety until the end. The solo line has ruminative, almost doodling moments, contrasting with virtuoso and extrovert effects (including massed clusters on the keyboard). Its series of attractive and sometimes violent incidents have echoes of (and one short quote from) Shost akovich, and also recall, in some of the more barbaric piano moments, Prokofiev, though the overall effect is Schnittke's alone.

The Violin Concerto No.3 (1978) for violin, nine winds, four brass and strings, one of Schnittke's finest works, dispenses with traditional development, although the three movements roughly correspond to a condensed sonata form. Instead there is a sense of linear flow evolving as the events require, propelled by the solo line: the violin acts not as a virtuoso soloist, but as a kind of continuous and expressive emotional thread running through the more broken orchestral contribution. The material almost always suggests a tonal axis, but this is skewed by the accretion of a multiplicity of styles, totally integrated into the flow: 12-tone, serialism, and micro-tonal variations (especially in the solo line). The concerto opens with a long solo, gradually joined by the winds and brass. The middle movement is more raucous, using the panoply of atonal and serial techniques, from under which suddenly emerges, in complete contrast, a quiet Dvorák-like tune, developed by the violin. It ends quietly and contemplatively. This is a concerto of many shifting moods, but whose continuity of expressive purpose is continually supported by the solo writing, as if the character underlying the emotional changes remains constant. The Viola Concerto (1985) is perhaps even more impressive, with solo line that veers between the lyrically soaring and rushing passages menaced by the orchestral writing. The mawkish, Mahlerian second movement has haunting colours in the orchestration and one terrifying outburst. The ending is reminiscent of the ending of Shostakovich's fourth symphony, almost suggesting a tribute. There is a threatening air to this work, as if lyrical beauty was in danger of being stamped underfoot; this proved prophetic, as Schnittke suffered a serious heart attack on completing it.

The central concept of the Cello Concerto No.1 (1985-1986), from the explosive orchestral outburst that crashes in on the quiet and lyrical opening, is of the individual (the soloist) faced with his or her surroundings (the orchestra). The emotional conflict between the song-like solo line and an orchestra that looms over it gradually evolves into the soloist seeking answers to the relationship. The second movement is lyrical and contemplative, until it moves into an unsettled climactic close, as if this path did not provide the answers for the soloist. The short third movement is a mawkish march, reminiscent of Shosta kovich, with the soloist and orchestra acting in concert, until this compromise reaches a violent, dissonant and inconclusive climax in which material from the second movement intrudes. In the final movement, building on these experiences, the soloist finds a solution as the lyrical, hymn-like cello line is gradually joined by the orchestra for a massive hymn of praise and understanding. Apart from its intrinsic impact, the concerto is also of interest in that its basis - the struggle of the hero leading to an optimistic end - is essentially that of the ideal Soviet Socialist symphonic construction, though here the ends are entirely philosophical rather than political, without musical bombast or trace of ideology.

Besides the symphonies, there are a number of works for large orchestra. Pianissimo (1967-1968) is for a very large orchestra, including electric guitar and two pianos. Constructed as twelve intermeshed variations, and using a tone row only stated in its entirety at the end, it reflects Schnittke's exploration of European avant-garde techniques in its study of rising crescendos and the massing of sonorities. R itual (1984-1985), dedicated to the victims of the Second World War, is a short work of commemoration, half joyously expectant, half-dirge, concentrating on sonorities, with a long, delicate and memorable close of high bells. The slow-moving, thick textured undulations of sonorities in the Passacaglia (1985) were inspired by a wonderment at nature, and particularly nature expressed by the sea, caught in the great swell of a crescendo of a storm.

String quartets form the heart of Schnittke's chamber output. The String Quartet No.1 (1966) is a 12-tone work, concentrating on atmospherical string sonorities. It uses the device of a melodic line being slightly modified by the different instruments, each set slightly offset in time, giving an improvisatory feel. Its opening, sounding like the cries of a pod of beached whales, is particularly effective. Atmospheric high harmonics launch the tense, tragic mood of the S tring Quartet No.2 (1980), whose material is derived from ancient Russian church song. It is an intense work full of dramatic action, regularly creating choral sounds, from the rushing chords of the opening movement to the icy alienation of the beginning of the slow third movement. Changes of string colour and tonal base shift with great rapidity, and the offset repetition of lines is again used. The quartet was written following the death of a friend, and the urgency of tragic expression, combined with a philosophical questioning in the distortion of the church material, permeates this emotive work, which ends in a fashion as extraordinary as its opening. The three movement String Quartet No.3 (1983) is more contemplative, though it is not without its dramatic moments. It opens with a quiet, hymn-like effect, quoting from Lasso, Beethoven, and Shostakovich's initials motto (D-E flat-C-B, or in German DSCH) to provide the basic material and three different moods. Schnittke uses a technique he developed in the 1980s of material that seems to be leading somewhere, and then collapsing, and again employs rising steps. The quartet has a wistful, distant feel, offset by rigorous passages of driving counterpoint. The Pi ano Quintet (1972-1976) was written following the death of the composer's mother, and is one of his most tragically expressive works. The second movement includes a waltz, grotesquely manipulated, based on the motto B-A-C-H, and the last movement is a mirror image passacaglia. Schnittke orchestrated the Quintet in 1978, titling it In Memoriam, and this version uses all Schnittke's considerable power of orchestration (including an organ), in which the waltz, against a cluster of rising strings, has especial menace. The result is virtually a new work, for the impacts of the two versions do differ: spare, elegiac, heart-felt in the chamber guise, powerful, more extrovert and with a greater range of timbre in the orchestral. The Vi olin Sonata No.2 ("quasi una sonata", 1968), which also uses the BACH motto in its single movement design, was similarly orchestrated for violin and chamber orchestra in 1987. Full of tense incident punctuated by silences, it again reflects Schnittke's period of avant-garde exploration, as well as the influence of Stravinsky. The Cello Sonata (1978), in three linked movements, is large-scale in design and intent, more conventional in its material. The cello and piano have equal weight in their own right, rather like two separate explorers pursing the same geographic goal in parallel, independently traversing the same terrains. The stark Prelude to the Memory of Dmitri Shostakovich (1975) for two violins uses the DSCH motto, with one violin intended to be played behind a screen with amplification, or pre-recorded.

Schnittke's vocal music sometimes shows the influence of Orff, in the ostinato orchestral accompaniments and in the choral writing. The Requiem (1974-1975) for soloists, chorus, organ and instruments is in his sparser, more ritualistic style, though it includes a jazzy section in the `Credo'. Noteworthy is the `Tuba Mirum', a monotone chant influenced by Eastern musics, against extraordinary and menacing instrumental sonorities. The Fau st Cantata (1982-1983) for soloists, chorus and orchestra, based on Goethe, arose from ideas from a projected opera. It is more dramatic and more immediate than the Requiem, telling the story of the final moments of Faust's life as he is taken by the devil on the stroke of midnight, and the influence of Orff, obvious in the opening, extends to a monumental contralto tango solo. The opera Life with an Idiot (1990-1991) is more problematic. Based on the novel by Victor Erofeyev, and with a libretto by the author, it is a grotesque story in the tradition of Shostakovich's The Nose, with allegories of dictatorship and communism, and a theme of the distortion between reality and madness. It is also extremely violent. A couple, as punishment, have to take an idiot into their home; he despoils their kitchen with his ablutions, and the wife has an affair with him. The husband then takes the sexual place of the wife, as madness overtakes them all, and the idiot eventually decapitates the wife. The context in which the violence against women is placed is disturbing, because it is partly glorified. In addition, the opera suffers from the literary brilliance of its text, where much of the action is reported speech; consequently the results sometimes have elements of the dramatic oratorio, however much dressed up by stage action, and one feels a potentially much better opera lurks behind this one. Schnittke's setting is full of parody and grotesquerie.

Schnittke's music is not immediately recognizable by its melodic material, in the manner of Prokofiev or Shostakovich, and the use of many earlier styles within a contemporary framework might suggest a lack of that individuality which has always marked the best composers. But Schnittke's style concentrates on sonorities and colours rather than melodic line, and familiarity soon allows recognition of his very particular voice. The interweaving of earlier musics - polystylism - is an integral part of that vision, linking it to the inheritance of the past that any modern composer carries. Schnittke was essentially a Romantic composer, and not merely because he returned to the tonal base of neo-Romanticism. He himself suggested his music was an attempt to express his inner sonic or visual visions, and throughout there is a suggestion of the struggle between conflicting forces of the human condition, and an exploration of the conflicts inherent in the natural forces working on the human condition, that belong to a Romantic outlook. He combined this with, ultimately, a sense of optimism (and of beauty) that often permeates the final pages of his scores, and which is unusual for contemporary composers; but that optimism is never bland, because of the struggles that have preceded it. His powers of orchestration and of formal design support the expressive intent: he combined the Romantic musical tradition with many of the expressive device of the European avant-garde, to ensure that his music both lives within a tradition and extends it.

Schnittke taught at the Moscow Conservatory from 1961 to 1972, and from 1972 at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory.

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works include:

- 5 symphonies (No.2 with chorus, No.4 with soloists and chorus, No.5 also the Concerto Grosso No.4, see text)

- 4 Concerto Grosso (No.4 also the Symphony No.5, see text), In Memoriam (from piano quintet),(K)ein Sommernachtstraum, Moz-Art à la Hadyn, Passacaglia, Pianissimo and Ritual for orch.

- 2 cello concertos; concerto for oboe, harp and strings; 3 unnumbered piano concertos (No.1 for piano and large orch., No.2 Music for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, No.3 for piano and chamber orch.); viola concerto; 4 violin concertos

- A Paganini for solo violin; cello sonata; 2 violin sonatas (No.2 quasi una sonata; Sonata (in the Old Style) for violin and piano; In Memoriam DSCH; 3 string quartets; piano quintet (orchestrated as In Memoriam)

- Faust Cantata for soloists, chorus and orch.; cantata Nagasaki; Requiem

- ballet Peer Gynt

- opera Life with an Idiot

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recommended works:

Cello Concerto No.1 (1985-1986)

Concerto Grosso No.1 (1976-1977)

In Memoriam (1978) for orchestra (from Piano Quintet)

Piano Quintet (1972-1976)

Ritual (1984-1985) for large orchestra

String Quartet No.2 (1980)

Symphony No.3 (1981)

Viola Concerto (1985)

Violin Concerto No.3 (1978)

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SCRIABIN (also spelled SKRYABIN) Alexander Nikolaievich

born 6th January 1872 at Moscow

died 27th April 1915 at Moscow

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Scriabin was a brief comet flaring in the musical sky, scattering remnants of his trail after him but leaving little lasting impression. He was emblematic of his age, steeped in theosophy and mysticism, possessed by the kind of sensuous grand fin-de-siècle vision that was snuffed out by the First World War, a compositional equivalent of the French novelist Huysmans, and throughout his output reflecting an aesthetic that belongs to the late 19th century rather than the 20th. Musically, it is also debatable whether his idiom belongs to the 20th century, as it represents the last flare-up of Lisztian Romanticism, tottering in its massed chromaticism on the edge of entering a new harmonic world, but harnessed by the voluptuousness of late 19th-century pianism.

However, certain aspects of Scriabin's harmonic development herald 20th-century usage, though in very different contexts. Scriabin's developments of Lisztian Romanticism include an interest in the system of harmonic overtones, building chords on the natural sequence. This led to massive chromaticism and the abandonment of key-signatures in his work. Perhaps his most important hallmark was the development of chords based on the interval of the fourth (as opposed to the traditional tonal interval of the third), anticipating a common feature of later 20th-century music. The whole-tone scale appears in his later works.

His works divide into eight for orchestral forces and a mass of piano music, of which the most important are the fifteen sets of Pre ludes (1888-1914) and the extraordinary series of ten piano sonatas. Of the former, the Piano Concerto op.20 (1896) is a highly-charged late-Romantic work over-teeming with pianistic effect, of interest for its affinities to the music of his fellow-studentRachmaninov. The Sy mphony No.1 op.26 (1899-1900) uses a chorus in the finale, but it is the last three orchestral works that are of chief interest. By this period, Scriabin was striving for a mystical expression of a vision of the cosmos in which the inner emotions and the outer ecstatic glory are joined; his intent was to so move the audience that they would share in this metaphysical ecstasy. The Symphony No.3 `The Divine Poem' op.43 (1902-1904) is a surging tone-poem in three sections (`Struggles', `Sensual Pleasures' and `Divine Joy') played continuously. The glimpses of the divine are heard through swirling mists, broken into by woodwind cries or blasts from the brass, the whole building from the quiet of the opening to rolling climaxes, ridden with late-Romantic tension. Le poème de l'extase op.54 (Poem of Ecstasy, 1905-1908) for orchestra has a philosophical programme of heady, orgiastic voluptuousness with music to match, and the summit of his atmospheric mysticism is reached in Prométhée, le poème de feu op.60 ( Prometheus, the Poem of Fire, 1908-1910) for orchestra, chorus and colour organ, an instrument designed to provide different lights and colours for different notes, and their combinations, to match the music.

Scriabin's most valuable legacy is to be found in the piano sonatas. The Piano Sonata No.1 op.6 (1891) is a large late-Romantic work in four movements, each unusually in the same key, joined by a recurring motto phrase. The Piano Sonata No.3 (1897) is essentially a tone-poem, as if contemplating the ruined castle that is supposed to have inspired the work. The slow movement suggests overgrown trees on the banks of the moat, and the last has something of the atmosphere of Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead. From the turn of the century Scriabin started to develop his mature piano style: here ruminative, sometimes almost formless wisps of idea expand into a more emphatic mystical and emotional message, a pianistic Northern Lights pulsating and shimmering, changing shape and colour, spinning off into new subsidiary formations, the whole always launching high into the stratosphere with the suggestion and promise of the mystery beyond. The ruminative, almost disjointed opening of the P iano Sonata No.4 op.30 (1899-1903), in two movements played without a break, flutters into action and eventual climax. In spite of the use of fourths, the fourth sonata keeps one foot in Scriabin's earlier style; he pulls it away in the upward chromatic swirl and subsequent disembodied bare rumination of the Piano Sonata No.5 op.53 (1907), in one movement. Its almost Impressionistic moments, a feature of Scriabin's later piano music, are created by the absence of a sense of recognizable pulse and by wisps of idea meandering out of the central core. The Piano Sonata No.6 op.62 (1911) draws the listener into a mysterious inner world; the Piano Sonata No.7 `White Mass' op.64 (1911) turns that inner world into a rite of violent fervour, while the Piano Sonata No.9 `Black Mass' op.68 (1912-1913) creates an almost nebulous world alternating between nervous, disjointed energy and evanescent lyricism, though it is not as dark or furious as its name (coined by Scriabin's friend Alexander Podgaetsky) might suggest. By this sonata the piano writing appears almost totally fluid, reaching its culmination in the luminous Piano Sonata No.10 op.70 (1913).

Scriabin's last sets of etudes and preludes are of interest. The T rois études op.65 (1912) cover diminishing extremes of interval spans, a major ninth in the first, like a bright jewel giving off prismatic reflections and dancing light as it slowly turns, a minor seventh in the slow, Impressionistic second, and perfect fifths in the third. The language of the first of the Five Preludes op.74 (1914) is reduced to a bare minimum of dissonant sounds; the subsequent preludes range from a ghostly march to the brief flare of the fifth, as if describing thunderclouds building up and altering shape. Throughout the set, the conjunction of overtones, often left hanging, form a major feature of the music.

At the end of his life, Scriabin was working on a mysterium that would embrace all the art forms in a gigantic work (opening with bells suspended above the Himalayas to start the week-long conception). He had made the briefest of sketches for its `Prefatory Action', which were turned into a full-scale work Universe by Alexander Nemtin (born 1936), which, while containing little Scriabin, is a powerful Scriabinesque work in its own right.

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works include:

- 3 symphonies (No.1 with chorus, No.3 `The Divine Poem')

- piano concerto

- Le poème de l'extase, Symphonic Poem, and Rêverie for orch.; Prométhée, le poème de feu for orch., chorus and colour organ

- 10 piano sonatas (No.7 White Mass, No.9 Black Mass); 3 sets of piano etudes; 2 sets of piano mazurkas; 15 sets of piano preludes; many `poems' for piano, including Satanic Poem Towards the Flame; impromptus, Polonaise, and many other piano pieces

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recommended works:

Symphony No.3 `The Divine Poem' op.43 (1902-1904)

Le poème de l'extase op.54 (Poem of Ecstasy, 1905-1908) for orchestra

Prométhée, le poème de feu op.60 (Prometheus, the Poem of Fire, 1908-1910) for orchestra, chorus and colour organ.

Piano Sonatas 3-10 (1897-1913)

3 Etudes op.65 (1912)5 Preludes op.74 (1914)

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bibliography:

H.Macdonald Scryabin, 1978

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SHCHEDRIN Rodion

born 16th December 1932 at Moscow

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Rodion Shchedrin emerged in the 1960s and the 1970s as the major Soviet composer of the generation following Shosta kovich and Prokofiev in favour with the authorities. He responded with a populist style, suitably spiced with elements of modernism, sufficiently diluted for him to be promoted by the Soviet authorities as an example of their forward-looking musical ideas. At his best, he has displayed a voice of great expertise, especially in orchestration; at his worst, he can infuriate by his eclectic borrowings (including older musics), his half-assimilated modern Western ideas (including serialism), and a general impression of trite surface glitter. Much of this reaction was based on a misapprehension by both the Soviet authorities and the Western critics, for until the 1980s his art was essentially founded on folk-music, especially the wit and play of the form of the `chastushka', a street-song genre based on a kind of limerick or ditty whose particular humour and rhythms have formed a thread through much of his music. To this he wedded classical forms, ranging from a love of Bach to imitations of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, the occasional instrumental playfulness of Stravinsky, and, especially, the melodic shapes and instrumental usage of S hostakovich. Ballet has also been a major influence on his music, and his own ballets have been created for his wife, the ballerina Maya Plisetskaya. However, in the 1980s his music started to take a new direction, shorn of much of the eclecticism, as if with the new freedoms in Russia he could cast off his role as the bright young light of Soviet music, and find a personal voice.

Shchedrin's works of the 1950s passed virtually unnoticed outside the U.S.S.R. The Piano Concerto No.1 (1954) rather ineffectually crossed Rachmaninov with Prokofiev, though it is not Shchedrin's fault that the opening sounds like a variation on the S tar Wars theme; the lively last movement is based on popular songs. The Symphony No.1 (1956-1958) is a big, Soviet-epic work, traditional in its language, tinged with melancholy, that, with its direct, uncluttered orchestration, suggested promise rather than substance; in spite of its symphonic argument, it seems to be constantly flirting with the descriptive idiom of the ballet suite. The ballet The Hunchback Horse (1955) achieved considerable success in the Soviet Union, while the central character of the opera Not Only Love (1961, sometimes known as Not Love Alone), to a libretto by V.Katanyan based on the stories of S.Antonov, is the woman chairperson of a collective farm. The suite from the opera, for soprano and orchestra and which includes the main aria for the soloist, is heavily under the spell of Prokofiev and suffers in the comparison.

Shchedrin came to wider attention through two orchestral works. The Concerto No.1 for Orchestra (1963) subtitled `Ozorni'ye chashtushki' (`Merry Ditties' or `Naughty Limericks'), a glittering showpiece for orchestra that comes perilously close to `light' music, demonstrated Shchedrin's orchestral skill, his perky wit, and the adoption of the `chastushka'. But he achieved international notoriety with the Carmen Ballet (1967), a scintillating orchestration of themes from Bizet's opera that is all glitter, brilliant colours, stunning effect, and little substance when divorced from its stage context, but masterful when seen as a ballet. The scoring is for strings and percussion (or rather percussion, especially tuned percussion, and strings) and the music is such outrageous fun that it should be at least sampled once. The partly atonal Symphony No.2 (1965) suggested an awareness of contemporary musical developments in Poland, while the Piano Concerto No.2 (1966) was again influenced by Prokofiev. Chimes (1968) for orchestra drew inspiration from Russian icons, with quasi-serial elements and the influence of Russian bells. The oratorio Le nin in the People's Heart (1969) included a number of quasi-avant-garde vocal effects, and is historically interesting as the most stylistically extreme of any post-war Soviet cantata on such a fundamental Soviet subject, surprisingly effective in some of its passages but now presumably doomed to oblivion. The ballet An na Karenina (1972) was a major event in Soviet ballet, the adaptation of Tolstoy's novel concentrating on the Anna-Karenin-Volsky love triangle. Divorced from its period staging and often tumultuous story, its music, intentionally aping Tchaikovsky, often seems dull, though the score is suffused with the rhythms and sometimes onomatopoeic sounds of trains, and Bellini is invoked in a scene at the Italian Opera. The non-tonal Piano Concerto No.3 (1973) was built around a theme and variations. In the opera Dead Souls (1977) Shchedrin replaced the violins with choral writing, the staging using multi-level action; the opera was criticised for watering down Gogol's message of the pain and suffering of the Russian people.

In the 1980s Shchedrin developed an orchestral style that is simpler, more personal, but as direct as his earlier works. The works of this period have the stamp of a personal and thoughtful voice, and those new to his idiom, or who are put off by the surface glitter of his earlier music, should turn to these first. The hiccups of modernism are to all intents and purposes abandoned, but while the harmonic language is relatively straightforward, these works are by no means traditional. The orchestral palette is spare; slow swirls of subdued strings usually predominate, broken into by woodwind or brass or the tinkling colours of the celesta. Movement is unhurried, and contrasts are provided by blocks of colour, where Shchedrin carefully uses the overlapping ranges of families of instruments to create homogeneous blends of colours. Shades of Shostakovich and sometimes Mahler still stalk through these scores, but they have been melded in to a more personal voice. The emotional range is not as profound as that of Schnittke, and the spiritual effect cannot match that of P ärt, but they have a compelling and insinuating sense of presence that grows on increased acquaintance. The attractive The Frescoes of Dionysus (1982) for wind ensemble, cello and celesta is a reaction of instrumental colour and timbre to the frescoes and icons in the Feropontov Monastery in northern Russia. The powerful S elf-Portrait (1984) for orchestra paints a subdued, almost dour picture, of a man quietly and acceptingly wedded to the earth, into whose equanimity breaks unbidden visions of luminous beauty or angry intensity. Music for the Town of Köthen (1984-1985) for small orchestra (with a prominent harpsichord) is a three-movement neo-baroque suite, gently pleasant and spacious, with a whimsical falling idea that adds a compelling dash of modernity and creates thrust in the first movement.Music for String, Oboes, Horns and Celesta, drawn from the ballet The Lady with the Lap-Dog, grows in stature on repeated hearings, generally solemn and subdued in mood, but imbued with a feeling of winter festivities by the delicate decorations of the celesta and by the block use of oboes and horns, whose colours merge. Of his other works of the period, Three Shepherds (1988) for flute, oboe and clarinet, recreates the spirit of traditional competitions between peasant musicians. The Echo Sonata (1985) for violin, celebrating the 300th anniversary of J.S.Bach's birth, includes gentle echoes of Bach in an effect akin to electronic transformation, but its theme is not interesting enough to sustain its nine variations and epilogue.

Shchedrin is a concert pianist of stature, and his own piano music provides a microcosm of his development, without being especially arresting.Poem (1954) for piano shows indebtedness toProkofiev, the Hum oresque (1957) to Shostakovich, while the Twenty-Four Preludes and Fugues (1963-1964) are more obviously neo-Bachian than those of Shostakovich, in spite of the moments of extreme chromatic edge. The Piano Sonata (1962) shows Shchedrin's eclecticism at its least flattering: with sections of virtuoso showmanship, the opening of the sonata seems to lope along through street scenery of modernist noises for their own sake, while the middle movement is brilliant but empty, as if dispossessed.

Shchedrin was a member of the ill-fated Parliament dissolved by President Yeltsin in 1993, and emerged as a staunch anti-communist, describing communism as being "anti-biological". His earlier outspokenness, sometimes steering close to the Soviet wind, was marred by his lead in the vicious 1965 attack on a composer of more avant-garde tendencies, Edison Denisov, and his current position as politician-composer has been sullied by his refusal to allow his music to be played on the same programmes as that of Denisov.

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works include:

- 2 symphonies

- 3 piano concertos; 2 Concerto for Orchestra

- Chimes, Music for Strings, Oboes, Horns and Celesta,Music for the Town of Köthen, Self-Portrait,Solemn Overture for orch.; - Echo Sonata for solo violin;Three Shepherds for flute, oboe and clarinet; 3 string quartets; Frescoes of Dionysus for wind, cello and celesta

- piano sonata; Notebook for Youth, Polyphonic Pieces, Twenty-Four Preludes and Fugues and other works for piano

- song cycle Solfeggi; cantatas Bureaucratadia andThe Twenty-Eight; oratorio Lenin Lives in the People's Heart; Poetoria for soloists, chorus and orch.; Workers' Marseillaise and other songs; Concertino and other works for chorus

- ballets Anna Karenina, The Carmen Ballet,The Hunchbacked Horse, The Lady with the Lap-Dog and The Seagull

- operas Dead Souls and Not Only Love

- film scores

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recommended works:

The Carmen Ballet (1967)

Concerto No.1 for Orchestra (1963)

The Frescoes of Dionysus (1982) for wind, cello and celesta

Music for Strings, Oboes, Horns and Celesta

Self-Portrait (1984) for orchestra

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SHOSTAKOVICH Dmitri Dmitriyevich

born 25th September 1906 at St.Petersburg

died 9th August 1975 at Moscow

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Dmitri Shostakovich is one of the most complex musical personalities of the 20th century, whose overall achievement in virtually every musical genre is still widely misunderstood, or appreciated only in part. He has claim, after Mahler, to be the greatest symphonist, and with Bartók, the most important composer of string quartets in the 20th century. His symphonies are now universally known and admired, although this is a relatively recent phenomenon. His string quartets, apart from the eighth, are less frequently heard and are undervalued. Perhaps more than any other composer of the 20th century he has reflected the tenor of much of the century, expressing the multitude of emotions, from the very dark to the reflection of beauty, and the desolate cruelty as well as the compassion of 20th-century societies, that has been admitted by a post-Freudian age.

That Shostakovich was for many years treated equivocally by critics (and sometimes still is) seems to be due to three factors. The first is that, in technical musical terms, he was not an innovator, aside from youthful experimentation that responded to Western trends until the artistic clampdown of the Stalinist years. He preferred extending traditional forms and harmonic language, moulding them to his own expressive purpose, and innovators have always received more contemporary attention than the technically conservative. The second is that, due to the circumstances of the Soviet state, he produced a number of works in the style of Soviet Socialist Realism that are often catchy, efficient and workmanlike, but also vacuous, and it was often these works that the Soviet apparatus promoted externally. This presents a problem for the listener, who should not be put off if they encounter such works and are disappointed: they represent a necessary shell, not the kernel of the composer. The third is more complex. Shostakovich was a very direct composer, expressing in an immediate style both his own personal emotions and his reactions to the culture in which he worked. Mahler had shown that a more eclectic range of musical ideas and depiction, traditionally excluded from such a serious form as the symphony, could be woven into the symphonic fabric and increase the range of expression within the form. Shostakovich extended this emotional range to include material inspired by immediate topical events, and, at his most successful, mould that particular to the universal. There is in inherent in his music a very particular political and social involvement, filtered through his own emotions (though it is far removed from the Soviet posturing his society required), and such a role for music has traditionally been suspect. If his Romantic predecessors can be poorly and loosely defined as expressing the psychological interaction between the individual and Nature in their music, Shostakovich expresses the psychological interaction of the individual and modern society, his very directness allowing a vast emotional range. But it is this emotional range, achieved with such conviction, that has so appealed to audiences, if not to all critics. In this sense of the purpose, if not the technical means, of his music Shostakovich was an innovator, paralleling modernist developments in other artistic fields.

Although his music is distinctive from the very beginning, his large output falls into three periods. Influenced by Hin demith and by Prokofiev, his early music was often experimental, responding to Western developments and to the sense of experimentation so excitingly rife in the early Soviet state. Irony and humour are inherent from the start, but also a sense of bubbling joy. With the rise of Stalin, Shostakovich's music became more monumental, more rugged, often with a controlled anger. He was heavily attacked twice, first in 1936 after Stalin violently objected to his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and second in 1948 in the notorious Zhdanov condemnation of `formalism'. In one sense, all his major music from 1936 onwards reflects some aspect of an artist's relationship with such an experience; at the same time, he churned out a large number of suitable cantatas and film-scores along Soviet Socialist realist lines, and the period 1954 to 1959 was particularly bleak, with no major personal (as opposed to publicly safe) works except the sixth string quartet. After 1960, his music became increasingly bitter, lean, and sad, and later obsessed with death. This later music is his finest, eventually so spare that it seems to work almost instinctively; these are also his most difficult works to assimilate and understand, and the best of them have rightly been compared with late Beethoven. From the late forties, he increasingly used self-quotation in his works, clearly with an autobiographical and extra-musical intent whose full import is still not fully understood. Equally significant is the use of the motto theme of his name (D SCHostakovich) D-S-C-H (in German notation D-E flat-C-B, E flat being `Ess', B natural `H').

A number of characteristics are observable throughout his output. Apart from a few early works, his idiom is traditionally tonal, admitting chromatic dissonance usually for emotional effect. Only towards the end of his life did he start to use atonal passages and 12-tone rows, and these are essentially utilizations of the harmonic and melodic possibilities they afford within a tonal framework. His structures are generally classical in form (though with increasing freedom and departure from the norm in the late works), and if it were not for the directness and involvement of the emotional utterance, totally unclassical in aesthetic, he might have been regarded as a neo-classical composer. Bach and Beethoven form the major mentors for his mature works, the former for his mastery of counterpoint and contrapuntal form, the latter for the example of expressing the most intimate of thoughts in the sparest of forms. Indeed, it may be that when the mass of politically-correct music by Shostakovich is finally discarded and as forgotten as Beethoven's once wildly popular Wellington's Victory, Shostakovich's achievement may be seen as a 20th-century emotional counterpart to Beethoven, but without the technical advances of the 19th-century composer. A favourite Shostakovich device is opening with an adagio, with a simple, uncluttered initial idea (whose general casts are reminiscent of H indemith) and a driving energy propelled in linear, rather than vertical lines. Middle movements often include a mawkish, ironic, sometimes demonic humour and energy. He delighted in rich string sonorities, especially in the string quartets. Slow movements aim at simplicity and beauty of texture, sometimes exploding into outbursts - strong contrasts of emotional tone and material are important, and Shostakovich became increasingly adept at handling their transition and juxtaposition in his middle period. In the later works Shostakovich developed the ability to move from the barest textures to massive, grinding climaxes with complete freedom and conviction. The orchestration, often masterly but rarely used merely for effect, is characterized by clear, often sparse textures, long melodic lines, and colour shades of solo woodwind, solo brass, or small groups of wind or tuned percussion (xylophone, celesta) against massed strings. His output covers all the traditional genres of classical music; his true genius, and his consummate achievement, is to be found in the series of fifteen string quartets. These are also the most concentrated and difficult of his works to grasp, especially the later quartets, and it is his symphonies that have commanded the most attention, and which, along with the concertos, provide the best introduction to his music.

Shostakovich's symphonies fall into distinct groups, with very differing aims. Four (Nos. 2, 3, 11 & 12) have specifically communist programmatic elements. Nos. 7, 8 and 9 reflect the experience of the war, although they are essentially abstract. Nos. 1, 4, 5, 6 and 10 are the major works in which Shostakovich explores the traditional structure of the symphony. Two of the last three symphonies (Nos. 13, 14) extensively employ vocal forces, and form a group with the last (No.15) in extending beyond the traditional parameters of the symphony and expressing a very personal and particular emotional world. He burst into international prominence with the Symphony No.1 op.10 (1924-1925), an extraordinary enough work in its own right, but remarkable considering he was only 18 when he wrote it, and even more remarkable in that it is full of Shostakovich fingerprints instead of being largely derivative. Exuberant, dashing, often full of humour, throwing off the shackles of Romanticism with a happy abandon (and an occasional wry backward glance) combined with a delight in manipulating orchestral colours, it has remained one of Shostakovich's most popular works. The next two symphonies reflected the optimism and experimental drive of the young Soviet state. The Symphony No.2 `To October' op.14 (1927) is in one futurist movement, its opening a gradual emergence of solid ideas from a dark, thick textured, muted atonal melée, the whole symphony thrusting towards its long choral finale celebrating the October revolution, via some extremely raucous and insistent music. This little-known symphony is interesting for its experimentation (including combined polyrhythms and polytonality), and for its suggestions of the directions Shostakovich might have taken had he continued in a different cultural climate. The Symphony No.3 `The First of May' (1929) for chorus and orchestra is the most neglected of Shostakovich's symphonies, and, partly from its lack of thematic development, is the least successful, though there are many interesting episodes in it; with its sunny mood and fervour it is worth the acquaintance. Again in one movement, it includes another choral ending with joyful socialist message (some Western performances have therefore omitted the chorus). The hour long Symp hony No.4 op.43 (1935-1936) was withdrawn while in rehearsal, and not heard until 1961. It is the most Mahlerian of the symphonies (especially the funeral march of the largo), episodic rather than traditional in form. In it many of Shostakovich's symphonic hallmarks - ostinati, a directness of pulse over long time spans, rhythmic devices - here reach a maturity of purpose. It is also a powerful work, tragic, brooding, dark, angry and intense. If it is too long, and its ideas over-abundant, such failings are compensated by a demonic insistence, the wealth of inspired detail, and an extraordinary final movement that ends with a huge ostinato that fades into emptiness, one of the most expressive passages in Shostakovich's whole output; Shostakovich was to return to its technique, colours and mood in the final movement of his last symphony. It was withdrawn primarily for political reasons, although one can't help wondering whether Shostakovich also felt he had also not yet completely solved the marriage of content and form. His next symphony answered both problems, and has remained perhaps the best known. The Sy mphony No.5 op.47 (1937) is subtitled `A Soviet Artist's Reply to Just Criticism', and in it Shostakovich channelled his impulse for a plethora of ideas into tauter and more controlled forms. The slow tempi and dark opening colours of the sonata form first movement ideally suited Shostakovich's musical temperament, and most of the subsequent symphonies open in similar fashion. The largo slow movement is extremely beautiful, with beguiling simplicity and open textures dominated by the strings. The finale has long been the subject of debate; ostensibly it attempts the swagger of the official triumphant finale, but, apparently intentionally, fails, the final blare belied by the central slow section. The Symphony No.6 op.54 (1939), if less overtly appealing, is perhaps more interesting, the range of emotion and expression much wider (particularly in the long opening largo that dominates the three-movement symphony), the symphonic solutions more ambiguous, the finale more successful, its closing verve alloyed by memories of the opening movement.

The first of the war symphonies, the Symphony No.7 op.60 (sometimes called `Leningrad', 1942), was partly written during the siege of Leningrad, and has become notorious for its first movement. After a slow, bucolic opening, a march theme quietly appears and builds towards a massive climax, through a long succession of inexorable motoric repeats. In the hands of most conductors and orchestras it sounds banal; in the hands of a great conductor and orchestra, it can be hideously menacing, grinding, and monolithic (as Toscanini showed in the first Western performance), which was surely its exact intention. The notoriety of this movement has unfortunately overshadowed the rest of the symphony, largely tragic in feel, its slow movement impassioned, its finale grim and uncertain in its optimism until the closing pages. The equally large-scale Symphony No.8 op.65 (1943) continues the overall idiom of the seventh, but in a tauter fashion, and is one of Shostakovich's finest works. In place of a hollow optimism is an abject pessimism, a depiction of and compassionate response to the horror and suffering of war. It is cast in five movements, the last three linked, and opens with a slow and desolate adagio, a despoiled landscape from which emerges a drained, weeping, anguished extended climax that emphasizes the desolation that returns. The short second movement is a mawkish march, martial splendour carrying barbed-wire whips. The third movement is another relentless urgent rhythmic creation, punctuated by orchestral explosions, that evolves into a trumpet tune over bass drum of phenomenal, determined energy; nothing else Shostakovich ever wrote has such white-hot angry propulsion. This turns into the fourth movement passacaglia, wispy, mist over total desolation, and similar in tone to the final movement of Vaug han Williams' sixth symphony. The final movement explodes into a huge, quasi-triumphant climax, that is whittled away by a demonic fiddler into a kind of weary, thankful peace. There is no glory in this symphony, only pity and desolation. Its successor is in its own way even finer. Authorities and audiences were expecting the Sym phony No.9 op.70 (1945) to be choral, large in scale, and triumphant in tone, not just because of the end of the war with Germany, but also because of the tradition of Beethoven's ninth symphony. What they instead got was a short, five-movement, perfectly integrated and proportioned gem of a symphony, that is one of the few 20th-century works to combine genuine infectious humour with a contemporary idiom and a seriousness of purpose. It is by no means a work of surface gloss: underneath the bouncing surface is a wide range of mood, from the ironic to the tragic and the elegiac, the manic elements of the hilarious ending exemplifying the more disturbing elements of the symphony, and it is one of those rare works whose sum seems to contain far more than its parts would allow.

The gradual convergence of content and form, the evolving mastery of the musical expression of complex and often contradictory emotions, of the sixth, eighth and ninth symphonies reached its culmination in the Symphony No.10 op.93 (1953), one of the masterpieces of the 20th century. The symphonic architecture is completely integrated, without the episodic elements of the earlier symphonies, and its emotional tension is consistent, from the tragic elements of the opening movement, through the propulsive drive of the second movement, the haunting, shattering, deliberate outburst of the third (a technique he had developed in his quartets), to a completely successful finale that arrives at a suitable emphatic conclusion without sacrificing the overall tone of the symphony. That this was an intensely personal document for the composer is obvious from the music (it followed Stalin's death, and has been seen as reflecting Shostakovich's anger and despair at the society he created), and is reinforced by the use of the motto D-S-C-H. The next two symphonies, as if retreating from such a personal and intense utterance, are programmatic, Symphony No.11 `1905' op.103 (1957) depicting the abortive uprising of 1905, the Symphony No.12 `1917' op.112 (1961) the October Revolution. Both are more appropriately treated as symphonic poems rather than symphonies, in spite of their symphonic structures, for the programmatic elements presuppose an outward reflection, a commentary, rather than the internally-generated passions of all Shostakovich's other mature symphonies. Nor should they be dismissed on that score: the Symphony No.11 in particular contains some of Shostakovich's finest descriptive music, brilliantly scored, its emotional commentary often hard-hitting, as in the intense build-up to the climax of the shooting in the square, and in the harrowing effect of the music of shattering quietness that follows it.

With the Symphony No.13 `Babi Yar' op.113 (1962) Shostakovich changed direction, as if he had said all he had needed to say in the traditional symphonic structure with the Symphony No.10, and fulfilled his programmatic needs or commitments in the eleventh and twelfth symphonies. Scored for bass, choir and orchestra, it is a setting in five movements of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko. It is Shostakovich's most public statement of the collision between private feelings of anger, despair, and biting satire against the oppressive Soviet system, and the public artistic utterance. Although Yevtushenko's verses can be construed as politically correct, they are consistently subversive through their ambiguity, and Shostakovich uses echoes of the Russian tradition, particularly of massed male voices, to contrast the aspirations and the realities. It opens with the title poem about the mass graves of Babi Yar, officially attributed to the Nazis, but then rumoured to be the work of Stalin (Yevtushenko's poem never mentions the perpetrators or the communist party), while the second movement (`humour') summarizes Shostakovich's mordant wit, and its psychological necessity. The last (`A Career') is, through a poem about Galileo, a savage indictment of the position of the artist under the Soviet regime. There are few works of music so powerfully expressing the protest of the humanist artist. The Symp hony No.14 op.135 (1969) for soprano, bass and chamber orchestra, transferred the tone and the vocal means of the thirteenth, with the common denominator of the tolling bell, to a more introspective, equally anguished work. Dedicated to Benjamin Britten, it is a cycle of eleven songs by Lorca, Apollinaire, Küchelbecker and Rilke. Its subject is death, treated in a variety of tones, all dark, from the barren, spare textures and swapping double basses of the opening song, through touches of bitter irony, to an ending preceded by near-silence that offers little hope or resolution. The orchestration is spartan, merely strings against the bright or harsh colours of a percussion section that is dominated by tuned instruments and excludes timpani; the textures are often reduced to the absolute minimum, music stripped to its barest necessities. This bleak work is hardly touched by moments of lighter beauty, a consideration of death unleavened by the transfiguration of the last works of Ma hler or Strauss, but in its own way it is as profound, its musical qualities matching the particularly distinguished poetry. It looks into the abyss of profound depression, as if the only way to avoid that abyss and counter the depression was to express it in music; such a contemplation is not comfortable for the listener, but it is a confrontation with an experience all too central to our century. Shostakovich's final symphony, the Symphony No.15 op.141 (1971) is perhaps his most extraordinary. It combines the spare language and the direct, clear textures of its immediate predecessors with the symphonic and purely instrumental effect of the tenth symphony. It uses, for reasons still not yet fully understood, quotations from Rossini's Wil liam Tell overture and from Wagner's Ring cycle. On the one hand the symphony can be approached as a purely abstract work, in which the often disparate ideas flow with a remarkable spontaneity and natural fluidity. On the other hand, it is clearly an intensely personal emotional document, using the D-S-C-H motto and quoting extensively from Shostakovich's own work (including the ninth and eleventh symphonies, The Execution of Stepan Razin, the quartets, and the concertos) whose full secrets have yet to be deciphered. It also adds a kind of serene peace and reconciliation to the experience of the fourteenth symphony, still without a strong impulse of hope, but with a spell-binding ending of chattering percussion and tinkling bells against a rumbling timpani theme and held strings, echoing the fourth symphony, that suggests `I have done what I can'.

Shostakovich wrote six concertos, and each has claim to a regular place in the repertoire. The Piano Concerto No.1 op.35 (1933), properly titled Concerto for piano, trumpet, and string orchestra, is an affair of riotous delight, carried on between piano and trumpet as much as the orchestra, especially in the rushing refusal of either instrument to finish the concerto - it is a concerto counterpart to the exuberance of the first symphony. The Piano Concerto No.2 op.101 (1957) is very different; written for his (then) teenage son, it follows the tradition of Rachmaninov, Romantically hued, with one of the most beautiful slow movements of all piano concertos. This delightful, unassuming work will appeal to almost every music lover. The two violin concertos are more serious in intent. The Violin Concerto No.1 op.99 (1947-1948, revised 1955) has connections with the tenth symphony and the fifth string quartet, using the D-S-C-H motive, and in the opening of the third and final movement, incorporates music too close to a section of the film score of Z oya (1944) to be a coincidence. It opens with a nocturne and a thoughtful solo line, moves to a scherzo that is a merry-go-round whirl, and ends, after a monumental opening to the finale, with a passacaglia with lovely, less angular solo writing. The Violin Concerto No.2 op.129 (1967) is more obviously lyrical and subdued, with a plaintive beauty, and omits the usual Shostakovich scherzo. The compelling Cel lo Concerto No.1 op.107 (1959), another of Shostakovich's most popular works, is a single-minded concerto (being largely based on one theme heard at the opening), with a slow movement whose idiom is ideal for the richness of the solo instrument, and a bouncy ending. The Ce llo Concerto No.2 op.126 (1966) seems to have been inexplicably neglected. Less direct than its predecessor, it is the most haunting, sad, and introspective of the concertos, a parallel to the later quartets, lightly scored for the typical late Shostakovich colours of double woodwind, two horns, two harps, percussion including tuned instruments, and strings.

Most of Shostakovich's serious vocal music (as opposed to the poster-paint Soviet Socialist Realist cantatas) dates from late in his life, when he also orchestrated two earlier song cycles. The song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry op. (1948, orchestrated 1964) for soprano, contralto, tenor and chorus is both the most Mahlerian of his works and one of the most appealing. The folk poetry is wide ranging in sentiment, and Shostakovich was able to indulge in the grotesque and the satirical, as well as the lyrical (in the lovely duet describing winter). Yet throughout darkness and despair hover in the background, and the chief feature of the song cycle is a deeply committed compositional compassion for those in the ballad stories of the poetry: every song has a protagonist. It is considerably more powerful in its orchestrated version. The Execution of Stepan Razin op.119 (1964) for bass, chorus and orchestra, is a dramatic cantata that continued the submerged protest of the Symphony No.13, using verses by the same poet. Ostensibly the dramatic narrative poem by Yevtushenko, telling of the execution of a Cossack hero whose severed head laughs at the Tzar, tows the party line, but underneath Yevtushenko's writing is subversive (the Tzar's world is easily equated with the communist regime), and it is this side that Shostakovich emphasized and amplified in the music, which is far from Soviet Socialist Realism. The Soviet authorities did not appear realize this, but neither have Western musicians, for this most dramatic (aside from the operas) of Shostakovich's works is almost completely unknown. The cantata appears to follow the large-scale declamatory style of `official' works, but the within this framework the writing is bitter, ironic, occasionally mawkish, satirizing that official style but at the same time having its own considerable force and brute impact.

Shostakovich's stage works comprise three ballets, of which The Age of Gold (1927-1930) is the most interesting, two operas, and one operetta. The ballet suites attributed to him are compilations by others of music from film scores and the ballets, and are best avoided: although individual items can be entertaining and witty, generally the material is of a lesser quality, unlike the best of the many film scores ( Hamlet, 1963, not to be confused with the earlier incidental music, King Lear, 1970, and Zoya, 1944). The two operas are both major works. The Nose op.15 (1927-1928) is based on Gogol's biting satire of social manners and politics in which a nose takes on an independent life, and is perhaps Shostakovich's most inventive and experimental work. In a rapid series of tableaux employing a huge number of characters (which has hindered performance) Shostakovich vividly matched the Gogol humour, allowing full rein to his own sense of irony and satire. The often startling and brightly coloured effects tumble over each other with the sharpness of a satirist's pen, there are passages (such as that for a battery of unaccompanied percussion) of incisive originality, and the vocal writing closely follows natural speech; the entire opera is a complete break from the 19th-century tradition. It is perhaps more correctly described as a piece of music theatre than as an opera, for Shostakovich's intent was to match the Gogol rather than any operatic musical development, and in this he brilliantly succeeded. His second opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District op.29 (1930-1932) is a seminal work in his output. On a grand scale, its libretto by Aleksander Preys is based on a story by Nikolai Leskov, with borrowings from Ostrovsky's The Storm. It tells of a married woman whose love for a clerk leads her to murder, arrest, deportation, and suicide; it combines graphic and savage psychological portraits of the central protagonists with hard-hitting social commentary in a powerful plot. The complex central character stands for those oppressed by stifling provincial life. It allowed Shostakovich to employ his full range of emotional effect, from incisive mockery to long melodic vocal lines, his instinct for lyricism, his ability to depict anger and violence, and, especially in the last act, his ability to create a vast orchestral landscape. Following Stalin's outrage at the work, it was not heard after its initial run until 1963, when it reappeared revised as Katerina Ismailova (revision 1956), with, among other items, the verbal depiction of the psycho-sexual motivation of Katerina toned down. The earlier version is generally preferred, on political grounds as much as anything else, but it should be noted that Shostakovich also took the opportunity for some effective musical alterations in the later version, especially the bleak vision of convict life in the last scene. He started a third opera, The Gamblers (1941), but abandoned it (although some of it survives), apparently disillusioned by the official condemnation of both his earlier operas, and the 20th century lost an opera composer of considerable achievement and potential. The operetta, Moscow, Cheryomushki... (1958) is Shostakovich in an unconvincing populist vein, with some good tunes crudely treated and little else.

Following the Symphony No.13, Shostakovich wrote two song-cycles, and revised and orchestrated an earlier one, that express the same dark world, the rejection of the society around him, and the contemplation of death as a release. All three works have a lean strength and power, combined with an other-worldly simplicity, that make them among the most potent of his works. The Six Songs to Lyrics by English Poets op.140 (1973) for bass voice and orchestra are orchestrations of a 1942 cycle (op.62), and set Burns, Raleigh and Shakespeare. Six Songs to Poems by Marina Tsvetayeva op.143 (1973) explore the place of the artist within a brutal culture, ending with a tribute to the poet Akhmatova. The Suite on Verses by Michelangelo Buonarroti op.145 (1974) for bass and piano or orchestra set late Michelangelo sonnets that ruminate, sometimes angrily, on the condition of the world and impending death and immortality achieved through friendship. In all three works Shostakovich favours low dark sounds (lower strings) and high, bright, ethereal sounds (percussion, celesta, high strings), leaving the middle ground to moments of climax and to the funeral or haunting martial sounds of the horn; in the two cycles with bass voice the very colour of the vocal line adds to the frightening bleakness.

The symphony provided Shostakovich with the larger public forum. Through the medium of the string quartet he expressed his more personal, intimate feelings, and it is in them that Shostakovich's most complete utterance is found, unclotted by the demands on the Soviet artist. They are much more consistent in quality than the symphonies, partly because all but two of the fifteen were written after he had reached the age of forty; it is all too easy to forget, when being critical of the earlier symphonies, that he was still only 37 when he wrote the Symphony No.8. The string quartets fall loosely into two types: those works of his middle period, where the intent is almost symphonic in scale and design and which are influenced by the symphonies, and the later quartets in which his expression becomes increasingly rarefied, almost spiritual, and which influenced the last three symphonies. In both cases, these quartets are much more than the abstract exploration of content and form for which the medium has been such a successful vehicle. They are deeply expressive personal documents, through which one can sense the personality and character of the composer, and for this reason they have been compared with Beethoven's string quartets. The short St ring Quartet No.1 op.49 (1938) is an unassuming, genial, and relaxed work, and it is the String Quartet No.2 op.68 (1944) that starts the series of quartets that have a symphonic weight and proportions. It is built round a long and beautiful tragic adagio, titled `Recitative and Romance', in which Shostakovich developed his penchant for long solo instrumental recitative. It also uses suggestions of folk music, particularly in the drone-like accompaniments and in the dance ideas, an idiom that permeates the entire cycle of quartets. The five movement String Quartet No.3 op.73 (1946) is one of the finest, with its jaunting angular opening tune, an unforgettable march-like staccato passage in the second movement followed by a powerful scherzo (both anticipating the tenth symphony), a slow moving passacaglia, and a contemplative finale whose ending, with a high solo violin over a drone, punctuated by pizzicato interjections, is a characteristic Shostakovich effect. The S tring Quartet No.4 op.83 (1949) is a ruminative piece, three of its movements marked allegretto, the fourth andantino. Gentle changes of texture and colour predominate, and a rather sad lyricism pervades this gentle, lucid, and beguiling work, which Shostakovich withheld until after Stalin's death. A complete contrast is provided by the S tring Quartet No.5 op.92 (1952), one of Shostakovich's rigorous and most unyielding works, which has close affinities with the Sym phony No.10 and the Violin Concerto No.1. Its three movements are continuous, and the opening adagio is of symphonic ambitions, completely fulfilled in the driving energy and dense linear quartet writing, creating a more massive sound than the forces would suggest. It moves, through a mysterious passage using harmonics, straight into the central andante, a haunted vista of slow moving tenuous simplicity and concerted writing, and thence into the finale, whose slow waltz turns into a massive climax, again stretching the massed sonorities of the medium to its limits and using themes from all the three movements, before subsiding to a quiet but still tenuous close. Another contrast is provided by the String Quartet No.6 op.107 (1956), which opens with a Haydnesque grace and is more relaxed and genial, each movement ending with the same falling cadence, with a meditative passacaglia for the slow movement, music for a late-night contemplation. The String Quartet No.7 op.108 and the Str ing Quartet No.8 op.110, both written in 1960, form something of an emotional pair. The former is dedicated to the memory of the composer's first wife, and the latter has a kind of double programme, first a reaction to a visit to Dresden, still desolated after war-time destruction, and second a personal autobiographical document of impassioned intensity. The String Quartet No.7 is short (twelve minutes), initiates the more rarefied language and texture that was to be developed in the late quartets, is tightly knit by shared material in the three movements played continuously, and is desolately sad. The St ring Quartet No.8, the most immediately affecting and best-known of the cycle, quotes extensively from Shostakovich's own work, from the first symphony to the second piano trio, and is in five short movements. Its opens with a disarming largo that starts with Shostakovich's D-S-C-H motto, and then smashes out in a second movement of rigidly controlled frenzy and pounding drive. The lilt of the third movement is broken by stabbing chords that herald the fourth movement, and the quiet finale ends with a cheerless return to the D-S-C-H motif, wrenchingly sad. The control and tautness of the whole quartet is considerable, the anger, bitterness and sadness palpable. The drones of the second movement have been equated with the sound of bombers over Dresden, but Shostakovich had used the technique before (and was to do so again) without such a programmatic intent. The String Quartet No.9 op.117 (in five movements that are thematically linked and played without a break) and the String Quartet No.10 op.118, both written in 1964, also from a pair in that they are less troubled, more serene, the former with its unassuming pastoral dance opening, the latter with its gently jaunty ending. Both have moments of disturbance, especially the snarling and furious second movement of the tenth, but these two quartets seem to reflect Shostakovich's contemplation of personal and private moments away from turbulence. A number of the middle string quartets have been successfully orchestrated for chamber orchestra by Rudolf Barshai, with the composer's approval.

With the rather perplexing String Quartet No.11 op.122 (1966) Shostakovich changed direction, and it forms a bridge between the earlier quartets and the final four; each of the quartets nos. 11-14 was dedicated to a different member of the Beethoven Quartet, and in each the instrument of the dedicatee is highlighted. The form of the eleventh is unusual: seven very short movements, internally linked, in what is itself a short work. The language is more rarefied than the earlier works, its tone enigmatic, as if engaged in some private dialogue to which there are few external clues, but it has a curious simplicity and quirky logic. The eleventh quartet initiates unusual structures; with the St ring Quartet No.12 op.133 (1968) Shostakovich added atonal elements and 12-tone rows, though since the basis of the work is tonal (and the argument partly between atonal ideas and a tonal outcome) these extend the harmonic and melodic possibilities rather than constitute an alternative harmonic system. It is cast in two movements, a short moderato acting as prelude to the long second movement in four sections, one of Shostakovich's finest creations, very wide-ranging in mood, captivating in idea - it feels as if Shostakovich succeeded in reconciling his disparate musical and personal traits in this movement. Darkness and depression return in the arch-form single-movement S tring Quartet No.13 op.138 (1970), which continues the use of twelve-note-rows in a concentrated work that almost abandons any possibility of comfort, ending in despairing sadness from the viola, accompanied by the isolated knocking of the bow on the wood of the instruments. The String Quartet No.14 op.142 (1973) combines the enigmatic qualities of the eleventh with the two-movement form of the twelfth, and is unified by a repeating idea on the viola; the first movement is almost bewildering in its folding and unfolding of emotional mood, and in the second Shostakovich seems to have retreated into a luminous inner world. The reduction into a completely spare emotional idiom and rarification of musical thought is completed in the Str ing Quartet No.15 op.144 (1974), in six slow movements, all marked adagio except the penultimate funeral march. The means, but not the emotional intensity, are reduced to the barest essentials, inhabiting an ethereal world given to few composers or compositions, disturbing but profound in its sad, interior other-world.

The rest of Shostakovich's mature chamber output is commensurate with the quality of the string quartets. The intense and satisfying Pia no Trio No.2 op.67 (1944), cast in three movements and dedicated to the memory of a friend who had died in a Nazi concentration camp, is a highlight in Shostakovich's middle period, dominated by the intense last two linked movements, a passacaglia largo of heart-breaking sorrow, and a memorable finale that seems like a bitter folk-dance. The P iano Quintet op.57 (1940) is almost as fine, with a solemn opening of rich sonorities, often bare two-part writing for the piano, and an unusual lightness to the last movement. The late Viol in Sonata op.134 (1968) and the Viola Sonata op.147 (1975) inhabit the same sparse world as the late quartets. The former is the more terse of the two in tone, the later is the last work Shostakovich completed, a very beautiful swan song, making references to other works, that redeems the sadness of the fifteenth quartet. He described its opening movement as a `short story', and it quotes Berg's Violin Concerto, with both piano and viola heavily involved in the story-telling. The scherzo is less demonic than many of Shostakovich's scherzos, with more of a folk flavour, while the finale adagio is a tribute to Beethoven, brilliantly based on the rhythmic and melodic design of the `Moonlight Sonata' while remaining quintessential Shostakovich, and, at its end, just emptying away. His piano music is not extensive, although Shostakovich himself was a considerable pianist until Parkinson's disease curtailed his playing. The major piano works are two marvellous sets inspired by Bach, the Twenty-Four Preludes op.34 (1932-1933) and the Twe nty-Four Preludes and Fugues op.87 (1950-1951); the later are the more substantial and rewarding series.

The impact of Shostakovich's music is based on a powerful duality: first the immediate, direct, and physically and psychologically realistic idiom, and second an underlying expression, sometimes almost coded, of the emotions of the composer - the conflict between the outward appearance and the inner experience. That Shostakovich was not the committed Communist that he has often been painted (it has emerged that many of his public statements and articles were written by others) seems inherent in his musical expression, though it was clearly the destructive state that he was protesting against, rather than for any ideal, and such a protest can be applied to any such state or society regardless of ideology. Much of this contradiction and personal anger and anguish has emerged in an extraordinary book, Testimony, supposedly based on conversations between the composer and S.Volkov. The exact provenance of these conversations is suspect; but their substance seems believable.

Shostakovich taught at the Moscow Conservatory from 1942, and his influence is widely evident in the music of the next generation of composers in what was the U.S.S.R.

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works include:

- 15 symphonies (No.2 To October for chorus and orch.; No.3 The First of May for chorus and orch.; No.7 Leningrad; No.11 The Year 1911; No.12 1917; No.13 Babi Yar for soloists, chorus and orch.; No.14 for soprano, bass, string orch. and percussion)

- Festival Overture, Novorossisk Chimes, October , Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Themes for orch.

- 2 cello concertos; 2 piano concertos; 2 violin concertos

- cello sonata; viola sonata; violin sonata; 2 piano trios; 15 string quartets; piano quintet; Two Pieces for string octet

- 2 piano sonatas; Aphorisms, Children's Notebook,Seven Dolls' Dances, Three Fantastic Dances, 24 Preludes, 24 Preludes and Fugues for piano; concertino and Suite for two pianos

- song cycles From Jewish Folk Poetry for soloists and piano or orch., Four Monologues on Verses of Pushkin for bass and piano,Six Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva for contralto and piano,Four Romances on Verses of Pushkin for bass and piano, Five Romances on Texts from `Krokodil' Magazine for bass and piano; Six Romances on words by Japanese Poets for tenor and orch., Seven Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok for soprano and piano trio, Satires (Pictures of the Past) for soprano and piano, Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti for bass and piano or orch., Four Verses of Capitan Lebjadkin for bass and piano; other songs

- cantata The Execution of Stepan Razin; many other cantatas including The Song of the Forests and The Sun Shines over our Motherland; other music for chorus

- ballets The Age of Gold, The Bolt and Bright Stream

- operas Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (revised asKaterina Ismailova) and The Nose; operetta Moscow, Cheryomushki

- very large number of film scores, notably The Gadfly, Hamlet, King Lear, The Unforgettable Year 1919, and Zoya, and incidental music, notably for Hamlet

- orchestrations, notably of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina, and Songs and Dances of Death

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recommended works:

Symphonies : All the symphonies are recommended. Those new to Shostakovich might try the fifth first, then the first, and then the tenth. The second, third and twelfth symphonies are of lesser interest.

Concertos : All the concertos are recommended.

Chamber Music : All Shostakovich's chamber music is recommended, as are the24 Preludes and Fugues for piano, though the early Two Pieces for octet and the Piano Trio No.1 are of lesser interest. The Piano Trio No.2, the eighth and third string quartets, the Piano Quintet, and then the seventh string quartet might be a sensible order of initial exploration.

Operas : Both Shostakovich's operas are recommended.

Vocal Works : song cycles From Jewish Folk Poetry,Six Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva,Six Romances on words by Japanese Poets,Seven Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok,Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti,Four Verses of Captain Lebjadkin; cantata The Execution of Stepan Razin

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bibliography:

(?)Shostakovich, D. & Volkov, S. Testimony, 1979 (Eng.trans.) (see text)

Kay, N. Shostakovich, 1971

MacDonald, I. The New Shostakovich, 1990

Norris, C. Shostakovich, the Man and his Music, 1982

E. Wilson Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 1994

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STRAVINSKY Igor Fedorovich

born 17th June 1882 at Oranienbaum

died 6th April 1971 at New York

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Igor Stravinsky was for many years the most influential and highly acclaimed of 20th-century composers, the yardstick by which others were judged. The residue of this eminence remains, in that the older generation of current musicians, composers, and critics formed their musical outlook when Stravinsky was to all intents and purposes infallible. Yet that infallibility has been tested in the toughest crucible of all, that of regular performances; in spite of his eminence, Stravinsky's later works are little known even by the musically literate, only a handful of the neo-classical works are in the repertoire, and his general reputation rests on three early ballets which are among the best known of all works in classical music. This position is exemplified by his opera The Rake's Progress, esteemed by many brought up to admire Stravinsky, but rarely performed, a specialist item in record stores.

The roots of both this esteem and his current position are one and the same. Stravinsky was an innovator, but an unusual one. First, he was essentially a stylistic innovator, mining and reshaping other musics to forge his particular stylistic idioms, rather than inventing or developing new harmonic structures or sonorities. Little that he innovated was not being independently developed elsewhere in some fashion, but it was his genius to have such command of each new stylistic idiom that it attracted international attention. Second, he was not content (as have been most innovators) to develop a new idiom and then expand it into a life's work, extending and deepening it. Instead, he was inclined to explore a new idiom, and then move onto to another stylistic innovation. Third, he was the most prominent of the composers who, in reaction to Romanticism, emphasized craftsmanship and the abstract, structural, architectural components of music, preferring the intellectual content of abstract construction to the emotional content of the expression of the human condition.

All these aspects of his innovations attracted the attention of contemporary composers and critics, and Stravinsky's influence on other composers is enormous. In a number of cases, other composers developed an idiom he had initiated into a lifetime's work: Orff's particular individuality is directly developed from Les Noces, for example, while the impetus of a central idea of much of Martinu's later work is to be found in a short phrase in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. Similarly, Stravinsky's music continues to appeal to musicologists, who have always found it much easier to analyze music for its abstract mechanical qualities than to identify the impact on audiences. Yet, while Stravinsky's central emphasis on craftsmanship and the abstract suited the tenor of the middle decades of the century, it holds less appeal to later generations: the balance between form and content, between the cerebral and the emotional qualities that informs all lasting art, is shifted too much to the former (there is a parallel in the architecture of the period). There is a certain kind of sterility to much of Stravinsky's music, however fantastically well crafted (as it almost always is), as if his concentration on the magic of putting things together was less an aesthetic principle than an attempt to avoid expressing or exploring his own deeper emotions, and his shifting of styles an escape from facing their personal implications. It is no coincidence that two of Stravinsky's most popular works are the most emotionally expressive of his output, while in one of the most frequently heard later works (the Symphony in Three Movements) he returns to some of the emotional fire of those early works.

Stravinsky's musical roots were in the tradition of the Russian nationalists and Tchaikovsky, whose influence is evident in the early and Romantic Piano Sonata (1902-1904), and whom he saw conduct as a boy. This heritage was furthered by his studies with Rimsky-Korsakov, the finest orchestrator of his day. By the short orchestral Fireworks (1908), the earliest Stravinsky work to be heard regularly today, the influences had included an awareness of the French Impressionists in a brilliant if vacuous orchestral showpiece that anticipates the more famous ballets that followed, and which brought Stravinsky to the attention of Diaghilev, and, through the collaboration, international fame.

The first original Stravinsky ballet for Diaghilev was The Fir ebird (L'oiseau fe feu, 1909-1910), a stunningly vivid and direct transliteration of visual ideas into musical impact. Based on the story of the phoenix, it is still derivative: the influence of French Impressionism is strong, especially in the opening passages, there are echoes of Wagnerian horn-calls, and the fingerprints of Rimsky-Korsakov mark the whole score, notably in the slower passages and melodic ideas. For long these derivative aspects were masked by the sheer impact of the new elements, most obviously the urgent barbaric earthiness, the sculptural incision, the violence of contrast between tone and mood. Behind these lies Stravinsky's great contribution to 20th-century music: the emancipation of rhythm from a more traditional ordered element into something urgent, motivic, catalystic, in which the tension and release of changing rhythmic patterns (often using unexpected units, such as those of seven or thirteen beats, odd accents, and swiftly changing metres) becomes a central structural component of the score. A particular aspect of modern music, formerly contained and often subordinate, started to be unleashed in The Firebird, and it shocked many and excited still more.

The ballet Petrushka (1910-1911) takes up where The Firebird left off, in the bright pictorialism of the opening carnival scene, but it is a much more individual and less derivative score. The story contains two aspects of instant appeal, the general setting of a carnival (a Shrove-Tuesday fair in St.Petersburg), and a central character who is an ugly but touching puppet. The new element in this widely-loved score is the introduction of an intentional and carefully crafted naïveté, in the sounds of the hurdy-gurdy, the toy-box, the glittering high percussion, in the passages of simple textures that foreshadow Copland, in the semi-humorous writing that is clearly influenced by Dukas's Sorcerer's Apprentice. At the same time Stravinsky started to explore a concept (in part suggested by the scenario) that he was to utilize and develop throughout his career, and which has become a staple of later 20th-century writing: overlapping planes of idea, be it a new key superimposed over the old and emerging on its own, a new melody, or idea of orchestration or rhythm, while motoric ostinati (one of the effects available from the new rhythmic freedom) start to make their presence and excitement felt. Some of these effects are apparent in the short hymn-like cantata La roi des étoiles (The King of the Stars, 1911, original Russian title Zvezdolikiy) for male voice choir and orchestra with its polymodal and polytonal effects in the writing for two groups of twelve tenors and twelve basses. But they came to their fore in the most explosive of all Stravinsky scores, the ballet The R ite of Spring (Le sacre du printemps, 1911-1913). Subtitled `Scenes of Pagan Russia', it is divided into two parts, the first the adoration of the earth and the new spring expressed in rituals and games, the second the propitiation of the earth by the sacrifice of a virgin, with its attendant rituals. The very scenario showed a willingness to express the deep elemental archetypes and urges that the 19th century had preferred to keep repressed, or at least unexpressed. Stravinsky responded with a score that also unleashed those musically repressed aspects, while still using the apparatus of the huge late-Romantic orchestra. Rhythmic power and change dominate: the listener is aware of the changes in basic pulse (multiplied regularly or irregularly) before anything else, and it is this pulse that gives the work its urgency. Often referred to as `primitivism', there is little primitive about the score, with its extraordinary precision of driving rhythms, independent percussive groups, polytonal and polyrhythmic effects, miraculous orchestration, and perfect proportion and sense of pace and pacing. Rather it might be described as `elemental', since it expresses those elemental emotions that the previous epoch mistakenly equated only with primitive peoples. Of all 20th-century works, The Rite of Spring retains the greatest impact on those fortunate enough to hear it for the first time, and its influence has resonated throughout our century. Rarely has any musical work so completely evoked the scenario it was designed to present.

Stravinsky then focused two aspects of his emerging idiom, the concentration on rhythm and the expansion of the use of percussion, into a single work. The melodic content of the `choreographic scenes' Les Noces (1914-1923) is minimal; the orchestration started off with a full size orchestra, but ended up in its third revision (1923) with the forces that ideally suit the music: four pianos, a mass of percussion, four vocal soloists, and chorus. The subject matter is a wedding, but it is treated not with specific characters and events, but as a conglomerate of ritual, custom, snatches of conversations, and religious material. The entire piece, in which the singing is constant, relies on repetitions and ostinati emphasized by the percussive colours and by the superimposition of planes of rhythmic and melodic idea and chant-like vocal lines. The effect is ritualistic, the lack of orchestral colour giving it a primitive, stripped down, archetypal power, but it is also powerfully dynamic, the rhythmic patterns constantly changing and impelling the linear motion. In many ways it is as revolutionary as The Ri te of Spring, as it has no obvious antecedents. In particular, it showed the potential of percussion instruments, using tuned percussion (and percussive piano) to appropriate the functions of the rest of the orchestra while emphasizing the rhythmic element. Those who respond to the music of Orff will enjoy this work, the direct predecessor of Orff's idiom.

A rather different form of simplicity informs the stage burlesque Renard (1915-1916) for four mime-artists (dancers), four singers and small instrumental ensemble, which opens a period in Stravinsky's output where, partly because of the economies of the war-time years, but partly out of interest in removing himself from the large-scale late-Romantic orchestral forces, he explored the possibility of small-scale stage works. The story is of clowns taking on animal roles, based on Aesop's fable of the fox. The four stage characters (a fox, a cat, a cock, and a goat) mime; the respective singers are separate. The colours are sharp, like a bright rustic Russian picture, the textures correspondingly clear, the rhythms animated, the tone that of burlesque, or of a comical travelling troupe. The direct simplicity of story line, the bright colours, and the small scale of Renard were developed in a work that has become the cornerstone of the development of music theatre, L'histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale, 1918) for speakers, dancers, and instrumental ensemble of seven players. Its form harks back to the 18th-century dance suite (its dances include a jazzy `Ragtime'), but its story - of a soldier who swaps his fiddle, symbol of his soul with the Devil for riches - has a sardonic bitterness. One of its achievements is that its central character is an ordinary person, a simple soldier, and with its ingenuous music reminiscent of simpler, folk styles, developing the quasi-naïve idioms heard in Petrushka, it punctured the special aura around serious music.

Stravinsky furthered his penchant for jazz in Ragtime for Eleven Instruments (1918) and Piano-Rag Music (1919). But he developed a major shift in emphasis and direction in the return to the structures of Baroque music and of the dance suite in the `ballet with songs', Pulcinella (1919-1920), which was an important impetus to the emerging movement of neo-classicism. The ballet was based on a number of themes then erroneously attributed to Pergolesi (1710-1736), Stravinsky himself likened this neo-classical idiom to embracing Apollonianism (celebrating the intellectual) after the Dionysianism of his earlier works. Symphonies for Wind Instruments (1920, revised 1945-1947) has little relation to symphonic construction, the title referring to `sounding together'; instead Stravinsky explored block construction with what he called `litanies', short blocks of different instrumental groupings, joined together.

The opera Oedipus Rex (1926-1927) looked beyond the musical Classical period to an earlier classical age, that of Greek tragedy. The concise and taut libretto in two short acts by Jean Cocteau after Sophocles concerns Oedipus' discovery of his patricide, his mother Jocasta's suicide, and his own self-inflicted blinding and exile. The text, apart from the linking narration, is in Latin, itself an innovation for an opera. The chorus act as a Greek chorus; the tone is rigid, ritualistic, formal, as if hewn out of the stone of a Greek amphitheatre, with an atmosphere of ceremonial nobility. Solo vocal lines often have an archaic, recitative quality, and a noble lyricism in the writing for Jocasta; blocks of differing tone, like panels of a carved relief, are set against each other in sequence. The whole effect, with the rigidity of ostinati pulse, is to emphasize the inevitability of fate, contrasted with the emotional anguish of the central characters, in one of Stravinsky's most powerful works. The invocation to Apollo is overt in the ballet Apollo (originally titled Apollon Musagète, 1927-1928), whose two scenes concerns Apollo's birth and the meeting between Apollo and the muses (each of whom has a variation), and whose rhythms are inspired by verse metres.

The Symphony of Psalms (1930) for chorus and an orchestra that excludes clarinets, violins and viola but includes two pianos for a distinctive set of colours, has proved, with the early ballets, one of the most enduring of Stravinsky's works. Its three movements, setting two psalms each, are progressively longer. Its tone, with the dark colours of lower strings, its rhythmic vitality, its fugal slow movement, the nobility of its ending, and its whole sense of a pagan delight in the glory of the Lord, has proved more popular in the concert hall than in liturgical surroundings. Ballet continued to occupy an important place in Stravinsky's output. Jeux de cartes (Card Game, 1936) is a `ballet in three deals' about a card game in which the dancers are the cards. The music is continuous, the scenes short, and there are hints of earlier styles of music, but it is neither particularly memorable nor profound when taken out of its theatrical context. The climax of Stravinsky's neo-classical period came with first the concerto for string orchestra, Dumbarton Oaks (1938), second the Symphony in C (1938-1940), and third the exciting Symphony in Three Movements (1942-1945). The Symphony in C combines the vigour of Haydn with a Beethovenesque motion around the orchestra in its first movement, creating a classical feel through the regularity of metre and a Stravinskian cast through the perky melodies and in the sense of orchestral blocks. The equally vigorous finale has more metric variety and more consorted textures, and these frame a larghetto that has strong hints of Prokofiev and a bright allegretto with echoes of the dance; each of the movements has an almost throw-away Mozartian ending. The effect is entirely one of a delight in craftsmanship, like some intricate architectural model. The Symphony In Three Movements summarized Stravinsky's development, harking back to the form of the Haydn and pre-Haydn symphony, but constructed with blocks of ideas, shot through with rhythmic excitement that looks back to The Rite of Spring (but in a much more refined orchestral texture), and with reminders of the circus music inPetrushka, a theme from theConcerto for Two Pianos, and figures from the Capric cio for piano and the Symphony in C. Stravinsky claimed that the symphony was inspired by cinematographic images of the war, but any such programme is essentially spurious, for this is abstract music at its most vital and communicative, seemingly reconnecting Stravinsky to his Russian roots, and with a renewal of emotional impact within a very formal style. A final embrace with neo-classicism emerged in Stravinsky's only full-length opera, The Rake's Progress (1948-1951). The libretto, by W.H.Auden and Chester Kallman, apes the atmosphere, characters, and story-lines of 18th-century English literature: the rake of the title unexpectedly inherits a fortune, goes to London leaving his love in the country, visits brothels, gets involved with a bearded circus lady, gets generally disillusioned with his life, discovers his helping friend is a Mephistophelean figure, and ends up in a madhouse, where he is metaphorically if not physically redeemed by the constancy of his country love. There are magnificent moments in the work (such as when his friend reveals his true nature), and it has always had supporters among Stravinsky addicts, but the opera essentially misfires and has never secured a permanent place in the repertoire. The milieu of the libretto requires something of the earthy, Rabelaisian tone of its literary antecedents; both the libretto and the music fail to capture that, concentrating on a gloss that can appear affected, occupying the arena of cerebral wit and style without the undercurrent of emotional power. The Ra ke's Progress was a conscious attempt to return to a Mozartian operatic world, but when compared with the understanding of Strauss and Hofmannsthal, it is an attempt that failed to recapture that magic.

Stravinsky returned to jazz in his adopted country with his Ebony Concerto (1945) for clarinet and jazz ensemble, written for Woody Herman and combining baroque features with a jazz idiom. It is a quirky but appealing little work whose central attraction is the constantly unravelling changes of instrumental colour and effect within the context of jazzy rhythms, craftsmanship at its most effective. There then followed a period of transition in Stravinsky's output, and ( The Rake's Progress apart) the subsequent works are the least generally known. Orpheus (1946), a ballet in three scenes, has an emotional distance (such as the use of a plaintive trumpet over strings), an almost Impressionist limpid quality in its opening, crystalline textures and an exceptionally smooth rhythmic flow, and an affection for the lyrical. The emotional distancing is more potent (because of the religious text) in the very effective and underrated Mass (1948) for two child soloists, chorus, wind and brass. The haunting opening to the Gloria, with intertwining brass, has its roots in the age of Gabrieli; the soloists follow; then a rhythmically ritualistic chorus reach out to Orff, and these three alternating elements form the idiom of the work, with shades of Monteverdi in the Sanctus. The Cantata (1951-1952) for mezzo-soprano, tenor, chorus, two flutes, two oboes (one alternating with English horn) and cello, is based on four anonymous 15th- and 16th-century English popular poems, three of them semi-sacred, the fourth a love poem, each ending with a common refrain. In its delicate, archaic tone, and its simple feel, created in part by the warm colours and restrained sounds of the instrumental accompaniment, it is an equivalent to Bri tten's small-scale choral works, especially in some of the cadences.

In this transitional period, Stravinsky, to the astonishment of his admirers and to the consternation of some critics, turned to an adoption of 12-tone techniques, following the lead of Webern as much as Sch oenberg. In retrospect, Stravinsky's restless penchant for exploration and his consummate grasp of formal construction made such a move less startling than it must have then appeared; the death of Schoenberg, whom Stravinsky hated, psychologically allowed such a development. Initially he employed 12-tone rows as an harmonic element within a wider harmonic variety. Agon (1953-1954 and 1956-1957) exemplifies this transition, an abstract ballet of twelve dances for twelve dancers looking back to the French court dances of the 17th century, divided into three parts. The earlier sections of the ballet have a rhythmic vitality drawn from Stravinsky's earlier modes, the later sections 12-tone elements, the whole framed by fanfares; the large orchestra is used sparingly in different instrumental combinations. In Memoriam Dylan Thomas (1954) for tenor, string quartet and trombone quartet, sets the poet's most famous poem, on the death of his father. Accompanied by the string quartet, and framed by antiphonal canons between the string quartet and the quartet of trombones, it is questionable whether this tense work adds anything to what is an exceptionally musical poem. Canticum Sacrum (1955) celebrated Venice in a short five-movement work for tenor, baritone, chorus and an orchestra without upper strings, and further explores the integration of 12-tone rows. With Threni (Threnodies, 1957-1958), subtitled `id est lamentations Jeremiae Prophetae' (`being the lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah') for six soloists, chorus and orchestra, Stravinsky based an entire work on 12-tone technique. It transcribes the insistent monumentality and emotional distancing of such earlier works as Oedipus Rex into the new harmonic scheme, with a dark and austere formality. The 12-tone rows are used with considerable freedom, but with strict formal integrity (such as combining elements of two rows to make a third), and the rows chosen suggest tonal connections.

These later works, for all their exploration of a new harmonic expression, contain elements of technical play and suggestions that Stravinsky was combining aspects of earlier experience with the new style. Abraham and Isaac (1962-1963) for baritone and chamber orchestra, based on Genesis (in Hebrew), has a florid, archaic vocal line intertwining with an orchestra often reduced to single instrumental lines. The Orchestral Variations (1963-1964) are a short (five minute) set of transmutations on a 12-note series, in which the underlying pulse is constant, the tempo varied. The formality of the neo-classical Stravinsky keeps trying to peek through the Webernesque economy. In Int roitus (1965), subtitled `T.S.Eliot in Memoriam', the tenors and basses intone the Introitus as a chant or whispered imprecation, while the accompaniment employs the 12-note row, announced in full by the timpani. Requiem Canticles (1965-1966) for soloists, chorus and orchestra employs two rows, and a frame of differing instrumental forces (string prelude, wind-instrument prelude, percussion postlude). This, his last completed major work, has a rarefied beauty in which Stravinsky's use of 12-tone techniques has become completely integrated into his idiom; it is perhaps ironic that the wider dissemination of these later works, sparse but formally fascinating, and with their own impact of the distillation of the old and the new, should have been so hampered by the popularity of Stravinsky's earlier work, and by his reputation as the major mid-century alternative to the Second Viennese School.

Stravinsky was voluble in print and interview, and collaborated on a series of books with Robert Craft (Conversations 1959,Memories and Commentaries, 1960, Expositions and Developments, 1962, Dialogues and a Diary , 1963, Themes and Episodes (1966,Stravinsky in Pictures and Documents (1968), Retrospectives and Conclusions, 1969). He left Russia for Switzerland in 1914, moved to France in 1920, and became a French citizen in 1934. He emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1939 and became an American citizen in 1945. He returned to the U.S.S.R. for a visit in 1962.

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works include:

- symphony (`No.1'); Symphony in C; Symphony of Psalms for chorus and orch.; Symphony in Three Movements;

- Capriccio for piano and orch.; Concerto in D for strings; Ebony Concerto for clarinet and jazz band; piano concerto; violin concerto

- Canon on a Russian Popular Tune, Chant du rossignol (Nightingale's Song), Dances concertantes,Dumbarton Oaks, Fireworks, Four Norwegian Moods,Four Studies, Greeting Prelude, Movements,Preludium, Rag-Time, Scherzo à la russe, Scherzo fantastique and Variations for orch. or small orch.

- Three Pieces for clarinet; Elégie for viola; Duo concertant for violin and piano; Suite italienne for violin or viola and piano; Epitaphium for flute, clarinet and harp; Concertino, Double Canon and Three Pieces for string quartet; septet; wind octet; Symphonies of Wind Instruments for wind ensemble

- 2 sonatas, Les cinq doigts, Four Studies,Piano-Rag-Music, Scherzo, Serenade,Souvenir d'une marche boche, Tango, Three Movements from Petrushka and Valse for piano; concerto and sonata for two pianos

- song cycles including Deux poèmes (Belmont) for soprano and 9 instruments (also piano), Deux poèmes (Verlaine) for baritone and chamber orch. (also piano), Four Russian Songs for voice and piano, Three Japanese Lyrics for soprano and 9 instruments,Three Little Songs for voice and orch.(also piano), Three Shakespeare Songs for mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet and viola; Abraham and Isaac for baritone and orch.;Elegy for J.F.K. for baritone or mezzo-soprano and 3 clarinets; In memoriam Dylan Thomas for tenor, string quartet and trombone quartet; The Owl and the Pussy-Cat for voice and piano and other songs.

- cantata Babel; Cantata; Canticum sacrum for tenor, baritone, chorus and orch.; Introitus; Mass; cantata A Sermon, a Narrative, and a Prayer; Threni for 6 soloists, chorus and orch.; Zvezdolikiy ( Le roi des étoiles) for male voice chorus and orch.; other choral works

- ballets Agon, Apollo, La baiser de la fée,Circus Polka, The Firebird, Jeu de cartes,Les Noces, Orpheus, Perséphone,Petrushka, Pulcinella, Renard, The Rite of Spring and Scènes de ballet

- operas Mavra, Oedipus Rex, The Rake's Progress , Le rossignol (The Nightingale)

- musical theatre L'histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale); musical drama for television The Flood

---------------------------------------

recommended works:

Stravinsky was an extremely prolific composer, and all of the works mentioned in the main text above are recommended, with those reservations noted. The core of Stravinsky's works will be found in:

ballet The Firebird (1919-1910)

opera Oedipus Rex (1926-1927)

ballet Les Noces (1914-1923)

ballet Pulcinella (1919-1920)

Requiem Canticles (1965-1966) for soloists, chorus and orchestra

ballet The Rite of Spring (1911-1913)

music theatre The Soldier's Tale (1918)

Symphony in C (1939-1940)

Symphony in Three Movements (1942-1945)

Symphony of Psalms (1930) for chorus and orchestra

Threni (1957-1958) for six soloists, chorus and orchestra

Those following Stravinsky's development might consider exploring his major ballet music, which makes an interesting continuity within a single genre. In chronological order: The Firebird, Petrushka,The Rite of Spring, Renard, Les Noces,Pulcinella, Apollo, Le baiser de la fée,Perséphone, Jeu de cartes, Orpheus and Agon.

---------------------------------------

bibliography:

I. Stravinsky An Autobiography, 1936, reissued 1975

Poetics of Music , 1947

B. Asafyev A Book about Stravinsky, 1982

S. Walsh Stravinsky

E. W. White Stravinsky, 1966, second edition 1979

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SVIRIDOV Georgi

born 16th December, 1915 at Fatezh (Kursk region)

died 5th January 1998 at Moscow

---------------------------------------

The genre of Soviet musical Socialist Realism met with such a scathing response from critics in the West, that it is easy to forget that the bright, optimistic and conservative demands of the Socialist Realism idiom genuinely suited the temperaments, both musical and ideological, of some Soviet composers. The best of these is Georgi Sviridov. Those not prepared to adjust to a usually conservative harmonic idiom, occasionally deceptively simple ideas, and a sometimes ideological content need look no further, but they would miss the more personal, musically advanced and intimate smaller pieces of the 1970s. The large-scale 1950s Soviet pieces for which he is best known display his surety of touch within the sonorities of the Russian vocal tradition; his melodic gifts are combined with an inherent conviction that is particularly appealing. He is the master of the long floating solo line over the shimmering sonorities of a distant orchestral or vocal (regularly a cappella) backdrop. He was the leading exponent of the Soviet dramatic vocal cycle, a genre designed to appeal to wide audiences, occupying an important position in Soviet music, and, for all its intellectual naïveté, popular - an analogy is perhaps with the position of the American musical in relationship to more `serious' music-theatre.

Sviridov studied with Shostakovich, and his earlier works include three symphonies, otherwise concentrating on chamber music. After a period of apparent uncertainty (1947-1950), he found his own metier (heralded by settings of the Russian poet Avetik Isaakian and of Robert Burns) in two large-scale vocal-dramatic scores, the Poem in Memory of Sergei Esenin (1955) for tenor, choir and orchestra, and the Oratorio Pathétique (1959) for mezzo-soprano, bass, chorus and orchestra. They are contrasting in mood, though similar in their limitations of idiom, which, like most of Sviridov's settings, involves a close integration of music and words in song-cycle formats. Indeed, the message of the words is paramount, with the music providing an atmospheric synthesis, and his works appear much more impressive when one can follow with the texts. The later oratorio reflects the vigour and vivid imagery of the revolutionary poet Mayakovsky, with the bass taking a declamatory narrator role. The Poem in Memory of Sergei Es enin is more lyrical and introverted, with the feel of the Russian countryside, especially in the first of two sections (the second reflecting the new dynamism following the 1917 revolution).

Sviridov's preferred poets are those with large-scale imagery or political intent (Mayakovsky, Esenin, Blok). But his most appealing music dates from the 1960s and 1970s, and is smaller in scale, reflecting the folk poetry (real or imitated) and the countryside of his native Kursk, and coloured with a sense of the melancholic. This inspiration is direct in the Kursk Songs (1963), a short cycle of songs based on folk-tunes describing peasant life before the Revolution, for mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass, chorus and orchestra. The restrained but colourful orchestration is beguiling, the actual folk tunes imbued with a touch of eastern exoticism. Alongside the sense of Russian choral spaciousness, there are echoes of Carl Orff in the orchestral writing, and these are overt in the ostinato first movement of the marvellous short Spring Cantata (1972) for chorus and orchestra, which unexpectedly (and unwittingly) links Orff with the minimalism of John Adams. Based on poems published a century earlier by Nikolai Nekrasov, the slow second movement is a more conventional dialogue between female and male choruses, the orchestral third deliberately archaic, setting two oboes against a shimmer of bells, celesta, vibraphone and harp, the last (`Mother Russia') a grand finale, just avoiding poster-colour extroversion. More obviously unconventional is the powerful and haunting Concerto in Memory of A.A.Y urlov (1973), a technically very taxing vocalise (no words) for a cappella chorus with soprano solo whose opening uses cluster harmonies reminiscent of Ligeti (though shifting on a more regular rhythmic basis). All these later works have a strong awareness of the Russian choral tradition, metamorphosed in the 1970s by the increasing use of more contemporary choral and harmonic idioms.

While it would be fatuous to suggest that Sviridov's music approaches the range or depth of such composers as Shostakovich, Prokofiev or Schnittke, his vocal-dramatic works nonetheless represent an important historical facet of Soviet thought and culture. They have their own appealing and attractive merits, and the much more advanced smaller choral pieces are particularly satisfying, with the Concerto in memory of A.A.Yurlov one of the finest choral works to have come out of Soviet Russia. Sviridov succeeded Shostakovich as first secretary to the Composer' Congress of the Russian Federation in 1960, a post he held until 1973.

---------------------------------------

works include:

- 3 symphonies

- 2 piano concertos

- piano trio; suite for string quartet; piano quintet

- piano sonata and other piano music

- Poem in Memory of Sergei Esenin for soloists, chorus and orch.; Oratorio Pathétique; Kursk Songs for soloists, chorus and orch.; Spring Cantata for soloists, chorus and orch.;Three Miniatures for a cappella choir; Concerto in Memory of A.A.Yurlov for soprano and a cappella choir and other choral works; song cycles

- musical comedy The wide sea stretches away; film music

---------------------------------------

recommended works:

Concerto in Memory of A.A.Yurlov (1973) for soprano and a cappella choir

Kursk Songs (1963) for soloists, chorus and orchestra

Oratorio Pathétique (1958) for soloists, chorus and orchestra

Poem in Memory of Sergei Esenin (1955) for soloists, chorus and orchestra

Spring Cantata (1973) for chorus and orchestra

---------------------------------------

bibliography:

G.Sviridov Noto-bibliograficheski spravochnik (compiled by D.Person), 1974

---------------------------------------

VAINBERG Moshei (sometimes spelt WAINBERG)

born 8th December 1919 at Warsaw

died 26th February 1996 at Moscow

---------------------------------------

Born in Poland, Vainberg remained in the U.S.S.R. after fleeing there when his home area was invaded by the Nazis in 1941. He was widely admired in the U.S.S.R. as one of the leading composers of his generation, though little has been heard in the West. Jewish and Moldavian folk elements appear in his traditional idiom, and although his earlier music was criticized in the strictures of 1948, he was soon praised for his `reorientation'. His idiom shows affinities with Shostakovich, especially in the use of marches, in the discursive, flowing melodic ideas, and in the phrase construction, and his later works suggest a development, in the orchestral language and general extension of a traditional harmonic idiom, similar to that of the later Shostakovich. Some may find these affinities too close for comfort, but the tone of Vainberg's works (as opposed to their means) is different, suggesting an outgoing musical personality under constant restraint, as if standing apart from his material with a disembodied effect, especially in his elusive, angular melodic lines.

Though primarily a symphonist and string quartet composer, he was prolific in all genres, and more needs to be heard of his music for a full assessment. Of his sixteen symphonies, the Symphony No.4 (1961) illustrates a number of the features of his style, with an opening movement whose vigour is offset by the unsettled rhythmic shifts and by the strange, introverted close, an enigmatic and restrained second movement discussion between orchestral instruments, and the gentle but ghostly ride through the Russian countryside of the slow movement, with Mahler standing on the horizon. The five-movement Symphony No.6 (1963) for boys' chorus, violin and orchestra, includes a Moldavian folk tune, with a literary programme ranging from a small boy making a violin and playing it, to a memorial to the victims of fascism and the peacefulness of the present. More straightforward than the fourth, and closer to a Soviet Socialist programme symphony, there is nonetheless a darker undercurrent to this symphony, subtle and probing, and confirmed by the wild, almost grotesque folk-dance of an allegro and the quiet ending. The Symphony No.7 is for harpsichord and strings, and the Symphony No.12 (1976) is subtitled `In Memoriam Dmitri Shostakovich'. Of his concertos, the four-movement Violin Concerto (1959) is a fine and neglected work, alternating between an aggressive vigour and an enigmatic lyricism, especially in the lovely slow movement, avoiding direct appeal for a more tangential lyrical utterance. The Trumpet Concerto is a particularly interesting work, very large in scale and scope for such a concerto, unsettling in its sudden emotional and idiomatic shifts. It is full of humour, sometimes mawkish and grotesque, with deliberately unsettling rhythms in the opening movement, wide swings from the epic to the lyrical in the middle movement, and a totally enigmatic finale. One cannot help wondering if there is not a hidden agenda in this curious concerto.

---------------------------------------

works include:

- 16 symphonies (No.6 for boys’ chorus, violin and orch., No.7 for harpsichord and strings); 2 sinfoniettas

- cello concerto, flute concerto, trumpet concerto, violin concerto and other concertos

- Moldavian Rhapsody, Polish Tunes and Serenade for orch.

- cello sonata; flute sonata; violin sonata and other sonatas; 12 string quartets; piano quintet and other chamber music

- song cycles; cantatas Hiroshima Haiku and In the Native Land

- ballets including Battle for the Motherland, The Gold Key, and The White Chrysanthemum

- The Passenger, The Sword of Uzbekistan, The Three Musketeers and other operas

- film scores.

---------------------------------------

recommended works:

Symphony No.4 op.61 (1961)

Trumpet Concerto op.95

Violin Concerto op.67 (1959)

---------------------------------------

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