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Denisov, Edison

Edison Denisov is considered, alongside Sofia Gubaidulina and Alfred Schnittke, one of the most important modern Russian composers. He first began studies in mathematics before studying composition with Vissarion Schebalin and Nikolai Peiko at the Tomsk Conservatory.

From 1968 until 1970 Denisov worked at the Experimental Studio for Electronic Music in Moscow. He taught composition privately (his most important pupils were Elena Firsova and Dmitri Smirnov) and taught instrumentation and score playing at the Moscow Conservatory, since the powers in charge did not wish to entrust him with a composition class due to his avant-garde tendencies. After the breakdown of the Soviet Union, Denisov was for a while Secretary of the Russian Composers’ Union and co-founder of the Moscow Ensemble for New Music.

At first Denisov was encouraged by Dmitri Shostakovich but later his own work moved ever further away from the older composer’s infl uence, turning instead increasingly towards Western (especially French) models of contemporary music. Denisov’s wideranging work is characterised by free dodecaphony and micro-structural procedures with which he attains a great richness of atmospheric timbres.