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Alfred Schnittke's Pluralistic World Depicted by Maria Kostakeva

The decay and deconstruction of form are the basic ideas behind the compositional method of Alfred Schnittke, according to the introduction to an article in the periodical "Das Orchester" (current issue 1/2003) - an article well worth reading. Maria Kostakeva attempts to delineate what is really of consequence in Schnittke's so-called "polystylistic method" in her essay "Die Explosion des Museums" (The Explosion of the Museum, pp. 37-43). "When one is familiar with the disguised monograms, symbols, proportions, insinuations and allusions of this 'homeless cosmopolitan,'" states Kostakeva, "one will discover his real homeland: the unconditional, free spiritual homeland in which art and life, music and its history, political topicality and mythical eternity inseparably exist together." Using examples from central Schnittke works, such as the opera "Historia von D. Johannes Fausten" (premiered in 1996 in Hamburg), the First and Fifth Symphonies and the composer's first opera "Life With an Idiot," the author approaches the illusions of tradition which run through the composer's complex oeuvre like a red thread. "The polystylistic method," she concludes, "is the expression of Schnittke's artistic world view. This is shown in the inner programme of his instrumental production, but especially in the dramaturgy of his stage works."