Alfred Schnittke

Composer ALFRED SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) was among the most important figures of Soviet music avant-garde. Born in the town of  Engels in a German-Jewish family from the Volga Region, began to study music in Vienna (in 1946 his father was commissioned as correspondent and translator at Österreichische Zeitung). Schnittke graduated from the Moscow Conservatoire, where he worked until his dismissal “on his own request” (1961-1972),and after that earned his living by composing film scores. With the help of the close circle of artists such as Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Gidon Kremer, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yuri Bashmet, Tatiana Grindenko, Natalia Gutman, Vassily Lobanov and others, his works earned popularity outside of the USSR. In 1990, he moved to Germany, where he taught at the Hamburg School of Music and Theater.  Today, his oeuvre is considered part of the twentieth-century classics: Life with an Idiot, Historia von D. Johann Fausten, Gesualdo, 9 symphonies, ballet Peer Gynt, 6 concerti grossi, instrumental concerts, Poems of Repentance and Requiem, Chamber – instrumental music and more. The composer is strongly attracted to the polystylism, which became his aesthetics and musical technique. Says Schnittke, “The goal of my life is to unify serious music and light music. I dream of the Utopia of a united style, where fragments of ‘U’ (Unterhaltung) [entertaining] and ‘E’ (Ernst) [serious] are not used for comic effect but seriously represent multi-faceted musical reality – be it jazz, pop, rock or serial…”

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