The story of Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke is one that will give pause even to the gods of irony. The descendent of German and Jewish inhabitants of what was once the German Volga S.S.R. in the Soviet Union, he received his first musical training as a young boy in Soviet-occupied Vienna. Baptized as a Roman Catholic at age 48 (although he had strong Russian Orthodox tendencies), this son of dedicated Communists employed a musical idiom almost as varied as his background. One of the most interesting aspects of Alexander Ivashkin's lucid account of the composer's life is his long struggle in the face of the hostility shown by the apparatchiks that ran the Soviet composer's union, a hostility that made it impossible for Schnittke to attend many performances of his works when they required a travel permit outside Soviet territory. Fortunately, as the regime approached collapse, the difficulties experienced by Schnittke and his fellow Soviet artists during the decades of Soviet rule abated. This entry in Phaidon's 20th-Century Composers series offers a well-written account of the essential aspects of Schnittke's life and work.
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Accordion Alexander Alfred and Irina Alfred Schnittke Alfred's Andrey apartment ballet became cadenza cartoon Cello and Piano Chamber Orchestra Choir commissioned Communist Party compositions Concerto Grosso conducted by Gennady conductor director Dmitry Shostakovich early elements Engels Eri Klas famous father Faust Cantata festival film music final fp Moscow Gennady Rozhdestvensky Gesualdo Gidon Kremer Hamburg harpsichord Harry Schnittke ideas instruments Karamanov Khrennikov Krysa language late later Leningrad listen lived Lyubimov Maria Mark Lubotsky Melodiya Ministry of Culture mixed chorus Moscow Conservatory Moz-Art Mstislav Rostropovich musicians official Oleg Kagan opera performance Piano Quintet piece played poem polystylistic premiere Prokofiev Requiem Russian composer Russian music Ryzhkin Schnittke wrote Schnittke's music score serial soloists sometimes sound Soviet Composers Soviet Union Stalin Stravinsky String Quartet style stylistic symbolic Symphony Orchestra conducted Taganka Theatre Tchaikovsky tradition Vienna Viktor Viktoria Postnikova viola violin and piano Violin Concerto Volga Germans write written Yury Bashmet