Description - Alfred Schnittke by Mr Alexander Ivashkin
This biography of the Russian composer Alfred Schnittke (born in 1934) presents a portrait of a man whose musical input has been inextricably linked to the strictures of life in the Soviet Union. His music, as a reflection of Russian cultural and social traditions, as well as mentality, enjoys tremendous popularity in his own country, and increasingly on an international level. Sixtieth-birthday celebrations in 1994 left no doubt as to the stature of this prolific composer, who has suffered three strokes since 1985. Born in the Volga German republic of the USSR, Schnittke enjoyed early formative musical experiences in 1940s Vienna. For most of his adult life in Russia, however, his music was powerfully shaped by the frustrations of the Soviet period; he reacted strongly against the ideology of the era. After his controversially dissonant oratorio, "Nagasaki" (1958), he was attacked for writing music with "bourgeois" and "formalistic" tendancies. But despite and perhaps because of official disapproval, his music, particularly from the "First Symphony" (1969-1972) onwards, achieved immense popularity in Russia, and later abroad.
Schnittke has also established himself as one of the country's foremost film music composers, working for the Mosfilm studios in the 1970s and 1980s. His symphonies lie arguably at the end of the Germanic symphonic tradition, but each represents a new concept of the genre for the 20th century. His works are strongly original, but also reveal the influence of Shostakovich (of whom Schnittke has been described as the musical heir); however, each of Schnittke's compositions can be understood primarily to offer a unique synthesis of many different influences and styles. The author gives detailed and admiring discussion of Schnittke's music and his theories, arguing that the various stylistic elements in his works - his "polystylism" - may be perceived as part of a new, more universal language. This text is part of the 20th-century composers series, examining composers in a biographical context, and offering a comprehensive study of key figures in the creation of 20th-century music. None of the books in the series presume a knowledge of specialized terms or musical notation. Each book in the series features a list of works, a bibliography, and a discography.
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(220mm x 156mm x 20mm)
Phaidon Press Ltd
Publisher: Phaidon Press Ltd
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Book Reviews - Alfred Schnittke by Mr Alexander Ivashkin
Author Biography - Mr Alexander Ivashkin
Alexander Ivashkin currently teaches the cello and Music History at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. An accomplished cellist and writer on music, he is also a close friend of the Schnittke family.