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The Tale of Wanders
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The following information about Alfred Schnittke is provided courtesy of rarecds.us.
A renowned Russian composer, Schnittke created over 70 symphony works and wrote soundtracks for more than 60 movies in his lifetime. He was a recipient of the National Krupskaya Award (1986) and Honored Artist of the Russian Republic award. In May 1981, Schnittke was elected a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts, in July 1986 an honorary member of the Swiss Royal Academy, and in 1989 a member of the Hamburg Academy. In 1989, Schnittke received the Nike prize of the USSR Filmmakers Union (akin to the Western Oscar). In 1993, Schnittke was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Russian Art prize by the Russian independent foundation Triumph.
Alfred Schnittke was born on November 24th, 1934, in Engels, a small town on the banks of the Volga river. He began to study music in 1946 in Vienna, where his father worked as a journalist and an interpreter. His family returned to Moscow in 1948. In 1953, Schnittke was accepted into the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied with E. K. Golubev. He finished the Conservatory in 1958, and in another three years completed a graduate program in composition and began to teach.
Schnittke’s unique composition style fully emerged by the mid-60’s. Critics noticed the exceptional power of his talent, fluency with the great variety of contemporary musical genres, and his outstanding dedication to work. The list of his works exceeds seventy compositions, not including the early works. Among Schnittke’s most famous pieces are operas “The Eleventh Commandment” and “Life With an Idiot,” ballet “Labyrinths,” oratorio “Nagasaki,” Prelude in memory of Dmitriy Schostakovich, cantata “History of Dr. Johann Faust,” stage composition “Yellow Sound,” several other cantatas, five symphonies, Concerto Grosso, and many others.
Schnittke wrote music for several dozens movies, including “You and I” and “Ascent” (director L. Shepit’ko), “Commissar” (director A. Askoldov), “The Crew” and “The Tale of Wanders” (director A. Mitta), “Fall” (director A. Smirnov), “Yet I still believe” (director A. Romm), “Agony” and “Sport, sport, sport” (director E. Klimov), and “Little Tragedies”(director M. Schweitzer).
Wide international acclaim came to Schnittke very early. His premiers always became events of international cultural significance, and his works were performed by the best orchestras and conductors of Europe and the USA. At the same time, there was a strong opposition to Schnittke in Russian musical circles. Many thought of him as a “phony” composer, a false celebrity raised to prominence by the sensation-hungry West. Meanwhile, demands of creative endeavor were affecting Schnittke’s health. In 1990, he went to work in Germany, first in Berlin, and then in Hamburg. In the late 90’s, his health rapidly deteriorated, and on August 3rd, 1998, Alfred Schnittke passed away in Hamburg. He was buried in Moscow, on Novodevich’e cemetery.