Alfred Schnittke

Born 24 November 1934. Died 3 August 1998
Alfred Schnittke
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1934-11-24
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/2382cbc9-dd4e-4fc8-a92e-5391f70bd3b2
Alfred Schnittke

Alfred Schnittke Biography (BBC)

The title of successor to Shostakovich was not actively sought by any Russian composer, but it has been conferred with some justice on Schnittke. His four operas, nine symphonies, numerous concertos, sonatas, chamber and choral works, plus a plethora of film scores, are an imposing enough legacy. But it is above all their quality of unflinching confrontationalism, symbolised by daring juxtapositions of style, that gives them the feel of authentic documents of their time and place. They capture something of the glaring contradiction between appearance and reality in the last phases of the Soviet Union; and they pose the question whether such contradiction is not endemic to the human condition. Schnittke pursued his disquieting agenda at the expense of musical elegance, subtlety and professional finish, yet also with a compelling flair for Gothic-horror exaggeration. His taboo-breaking boldness made him an idol for those Soviet composers of his and the next generation who were determined to shake off the constraints of official Socialist Realism.

Schnittke’s musical education began in 1946 in Vienna, where his German-born father worked for two years as a journalist. He then studied choral conducting in Moscow and from 1953 to 1958 attended the Moscow Conservatory, studying officially under Nikolay Rakov (instrumentation) and the Nikolay Myaskovsky-pupil Yevgeny Golubev (counterpoint and composition), remaining with Golubev as a postgraduate until 1961. He also met Philip Herschkowitz, the Romanian-born Webern pupil, who fed the rebellious instincts of Schnittke and his contemporaries with a passionate commitment to Second Viennese School serialism, long prohibited in the Soviet Union.

From 1962 to 1972 Schnittke taught instrumentation at the conservatory, developing a portfolio of works that would see him become one of the most widely performed, commissioned and recorded composers of the late 20th century.

Initially blending modernist techniques with a rhythmic and gestural language indebted to Shostakovich, Schnittke’s style underwent a change in the late 1960s, incorporating quotations, pastiche and stylistic references in a manner summed up by the composer as ‘polystylistic’. This was by no means an innovative concept – the term itself had been current in Leningrad composing circles in the 1920s, and the pioneering examples of Berio and the Polish ‘sonoristic’ school were not lost on Schnittke. In 1985 Schnittke suffered the first of a series of strokes that led to a greater austerity of means but only put a temporary brake on his prolific output. In 1990 he moved to Hamburg, where he took charge of a composition class at the conservatory and where he died in 1998.

Profile © David Fanning


Alfred Schnittke Performances & Interviews


Alfred Schnittke Tracks

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Alfred Schnittke
Fugue & Pantomime (Suite in the Old Style)
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Fugue & Pantomime (Suite in the Old Style)
Alfred Schnittke
Complete this work which I began (Choir Concerto)
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Complete this work which I began (Choir Concerto)
Alfred Schnittke
The Sledge (The Story of an Unknown Actor)
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The Sledge (The Story of an Unknown Actor)
Alfred Schnittke
Suite in the Old Style - Pastorale
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Suite in the Old Style - Pastorale
Alfred Schnittke
Concerto Grosso no 1
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Concerto Grosso no 1
Alfred Schnittke
Choir Concerto - 1st movement
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Choir Concerto - 1st movement

Choir Concerto - 1st movement

Performer
Russian State Symphony Cappella
Alfred Schnittke
Concerto For Mixed Chorus
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Concerto For Mixed Chorus
Alfred Schnittke
Fugue (Suite in the Old Style)
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Fugue (Suite in the Old Style)
Alfred Schnittke
Suite in the Old Style - Minuet
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Suite in the Old Style - Minuet
Alfred Schnittke
The Clerks (extract The Census List)
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The Clerks (extract The Census List)

The Clerks (extract The Census List)

Orchestra
Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Alfred Schnittke
Love (from The Commissar)
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Love (from The Commissar)

Love (from The Commissar)

Performer
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Frank Strobel
Alfred Schnittke
Polka (from Revis Fairy Tale)
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Polka (from Revis Fairy Tale)

Polka (from Revis Fairy Tale)

Performer
Ksenija Siderova (accordion)
Arvo Pärt
Tabula Rasa
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Tabula Rasa
Alfred Schnittke
Faust Cantata - Es Geschah
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Faust Cantata - Es Geschah
Alfred Schnittke
The Building Site
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The Building Site
Alfred Schnittke
Suite in the olden style arr. D.Shafran for cello and piano
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Suite in the olden style arr. D.Shafran for cello and piano
Alfred Schnittke
Suite In The Old Style
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Suite In The Old Style
Alfred Schnittke
Choir Concerto, 4th Movement: 'Complete This Work'
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Choir Concerto, 4th Movement: 'Complete This Work'
Alfred Schnittke
Passacaglia
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Passacaglia

Passacaglia

Performer
The Malmo Symphony Orchestra
Conductor
James DePriest
Alfred Schnittke
(K)ein Sommernachtstraum
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(K)ein Sommernachtstraum

(K)ein Sommernachtstraum

Performer
The Malmo Symphony Orchestra
Conductor
James DePriest
Alfred Schnittke
'Credo' from the Requiem
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'Credo' from the Requiem

'Credo' from the Requiem

Performer
Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Alfred Schnittke
'Preludio' from the Concerto Grosso
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'Preludio' from the Concerto Grosso
Alfred Schnittke
Symphony No.1, 1st Movement
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Symphony No.1, 1st Movement
Alfred Schnittke
'Es geschah (It came to pass)' from the Faust Cantata ('Seid nuchtern und wachet')
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'Es geschah (It came to pass)' from the Faust Cantata ('Seid nuchtern und wachet')
Alfred Schnittke
Concerto For Mixed Chorus
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Concerto For Mixed Chorus
Alfred Schnittke
Collected Songs Where Every Verse is Filled with Grief  
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Collected Songs Where Every Verse is Filled with Grief  
Alfred Schnittke
Ritual for orchestra
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Ritual for orchestra
Alfred Schnittke
Musica Nostalgica
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Musica Nostalgica
Alfred Schnittke
Suite in the Old Style, Op 94 (5th mvt, Pantomime)
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Suite in the Old Style, Op 94 (5th mvt, Pantomime)
Alfred Schnittke
Concerto Grosso No.1: V. Rondo
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Concerto Grosso No.1: V. Rondo
Alfred Schnittke
Polka
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Polka
Alfred Schnittke
Suite in the Old Style - Pantomime
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Suite in the Old Style - Pantomime

Suite in the Old Style - Pantomime

Performer
Leonard Elschenbroich, Petr Limonov
Alfred Schnittke
Quintet for piano and strings
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Quintet for piano and strings
Alfred Schnittke
Suite in the Old Style - Menuett
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Suite in the Old Style - Menuett
Alfred Schnittke
Cello Sonata no 1 - 1st mvt
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Cello Sonata no 1 - 1st mvt
Alfred Schnittke
Agony : Concert suite
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Agony : Concert suite
Alfred Schnittke
Complete this work which I began (Choir Concerto)
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Complete this work which I began (Choir Concerto)
Alfred Schnittke
Stille Nacht
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Stille Nacht
Alfred Schnittke
Revis Fairytale (Polka)
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Revis Fairytale (Polka)
Alfred Schnittke
Moz-Art a la Haydn (extract)
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Moz-Art a la Haydn (extract)
Alfred Schnittke
3 Sacred Hymns - nos. 1 & 2
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3 Sacred Hymns - nos. 1 & 2
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