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Alfred Schnittke - Seventieth Birthday 24 November 2004

Alfred Schnittke - A Life in Unresolved Contradiction

An unresolved contradiction accompanies the life of the composer Alfred Schnittke, who died in 1998 and whose seventieth birthday will be commemorated by the musical world on 24 November 2004. He himself formulated it this way: "There is always a question in my mind. I search for an answer, but haven't found it yet. The point of this question is that I, although not of Russian descent, am nonetheless bound to Russia and have spent my whole life in Russia." Schnittke's words were uttered in 1988. Shortly before his death his statement that he had spent his entire life in Russia would have had to be corrected. For he dedicated his last decade to the West, having settled in Hamburg and travelled to the world's great musical centres. This phase was marked by the repeated, horrible strokes that were finally to cost him his life. In 1985 the composer suffered his first, almost lethal stroke, and for a short time he was even considered clinically dead. After his recovery, which surprised everyone, a truly gigantic creative process began during which approximately half of his major works were composed.

International Alfred Schnittke Festival in Moscow

On the occasion of Schnittke's seventieth birthday, an international Alfred Schnittke Festival from 2 to 20 October 2004 with first-rank performers was organised. Yuri Bashmet played the Viola Concerto, accompanied by the Russian State Symphonic Capella under Valery Polyansky. Alfred Schnittke's widow, the pianist Irina Schnittke, performed her husband's Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra. The Moscow Virtuosi under Vladimir Spivakov were the performers; this ensemble has long enjoyed an international reputation for the interpretation of Schnittke's music. A high point of the Festival was, in common with the Bonn Beethoven Festival, the performance of the complete cycle of six Concerti Grossi in which the performers included the new Sikorski composer Lera Auerbach as pianist. The previously unknown Violin Sonata from the year 1955 received its Russian premiere with Tatiana Grindenko (violin) and Irina Schnittke (piano).

Schnittke Concerts at the North German Radio Hamburg

The oeuvre of Schnittke will run through the concert programmes of the North German Radio the entire year. Outstanding events of the NDR at the Bucerius Kunst Forum are the performances of "Sounding Letters" and the Hymnus I by Ensemble Modern (28 September 2004, Bucerius Kunst Forum), the Serenade and the Trio Sonata by the Bremen Chamber Philharmonic (2 October 2004) as well as the big birthday concert on 26 November 2004 at the Kirche St. Johannis am Turnweg, organised by the NDR Choir under the direction of Michael Glser as a co-production of the editorial boards of "das neue werk" and "Das Alte Werk."

"The Ninth Day" - Schlndorff's New Film

The dramatic story of the Luxemburg Abbot Henri Kremer during the Nazi period, filmed by Oscar winner Volker Schlndorff, was introduced at the Munich Film Festival on 2 July 2004. Schlndorff selected exclusively music by Alfred Schnittke for the soundtrack of his film, including the famous Second Cello Concerto in its entirety. The Swedish label BIS, especially committed to the music of Schnittke, has issued the soundtrack on CD in the form of a special edition.

Completed Catalogue of Works

Hans Sikorski Publishers proudly introduce their most recently issued Catalogue of Works of Alfred Schnittke, brought up to date in all areas. The Catalogue comprises 116 pages and can be requested from the Publishers. Much data on the histories of the works, title corrections and performance times has been rectified, with premiere dates and ordering numbers of printed editions of the individual works completed. Compared with the extensive secondary literature on the composer, this Catalogue is surely the most reliable, complete and most carefully researched source on this composer's production in existence.

A Schnittke Discovery: The Violin Sonata of 1955

Hans Sikorski Music Publishers have a surprise in store for you. Many years before the composition of the Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano of 1963 Schnittke had already turned to this genre in an early work. The Violin Sonata of 1955, premiered (again) by Daniel Hope, has been newly edited and released for performance.