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Gennady Rozhdestvensky’s 90th Birthday and his arrangements of works by Schnittke, Prokofiev and Shostakovich

On 16 June 2018, Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky died in Moscow at the age of 87. We are commemorating his 90th birthday on 4 May 2021.

Rozhdestvensky was one of the most important conductors of the post-war period and maintained the closest relationships with musicians, as well as composers such as Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina and Edison Denisov from the era after Dmitri Shostakovich. Over six decades he gave concerts around the world, conducted the USSR Radio Symphony Orchestra and later the renowned Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.  Rozhdestvensky was the first conductor in the former Soviet Union to be appointed chief conductor of foreign orchestras.  For many years he led the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Stockholm Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He was married to the Russian pianist Viktoria Postnikova, with whom he also gave many concerts and made recordings.

In 1982, Gennady Rozhdestvensky initiated a march titled “Swan, Crab and Pike” for brass and percussion, composed in the authors’ collective, as an encore for a concert in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on 15 April 1982. Rozhdestvensky was responsible for the percussion part at that time. The composer Alfred Schnittke later used this piece as the introduction and finale of his ballet “Sketches”. 

In this context, it is also worth mentioning the premiere of Schnittke’s important Symphony No. 1, which Rozhdestvensky courageously stuck to when it was banned in Moscow and then with sensational success conducted in Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) in 1974. Rozhdestvensky also made an important contribution to Schnittke’s “Gogol Suite”, which is based on Schnittke’s incidental music for the play “The Revision List”.  Gennady Rozhdestvensky, who had already been involved with Schnittke since 1963 with the premiere of many orchestral works, took over the conducting of the incidental music. Later, he had the idea of compiling essential parts of the incidental music into a Gogol suite. 

Finally, reference should be made to Rozhdestvensky’s elaboration of a sketch of “Lux aeterna” left by Schnittke. This was a completely sketched choral movement from 1994by the seriously ill Schnittke, but with only hints of instruments, which Rozhdestvensky completed in the composer’s spirit.


90th birthday
Gennady Rozhdestvensky 
(04.05.1931 - 16.06.2018)

Arrangements of works by Sergei Prokofiev

“Pushkiniana-Suite” for orchestra

Arrangements of works by Alfred Schnittke

“The Dead Souls”. Suite from the film music
“Gogol Suite” for orchestra 
“Lux aeterna. Communio II” for mixed choir and orchestra 
Completion and orchestration
“Sketches”. Choreographic Fantasy
“Sport. Sport. Sport.” Suite from the film music 
“How Tsar Peter Married His Moor”. Suite from the film music

Arrangements of works by Dmitri Shostakovich

„Alone”. Suite from the film music op. 26a 
“The Fairy Tale of Popen and his servant Balda”. Suite from the film music op. 36a Compilation
“The New Babylon”. Suite from the film music op. 18a 
“The Players”. Opera in 1 act, supplement
Romance after a poem by Alexander Pushkin op. 46,4
Four Monologues in Verse by Alexander Pushkin op. 91a

Edison Denisov / Sofia Gubaidulina / Alfred Schnittke / Gennady Rozhdestvensky

March “Swan, Crab and Pike” for brass and percussion
Joint composition, for which Rozhdestvensky contributed the percussion part.

Photoraph: © Familienarchiv Rozhdestvensky

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