Alfred Schnittke

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Phaidon, Sep 25, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 240 pages
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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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About the author (1996)

Ivashkin is Professor of Music and Director of the Centre for Russian Music at the University of London.