Alfred Schnittke

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Russian master maverick


As a young music student I became fascinated by the music of Alfred Schnittke after seeing a TV documentary about his work. I loved all things Russian anyway, and was highly impressed by his polystylistic approach since I too couldn't bear to be stuck in any one genre. A German Jew living in Russia, he was undoubtedly one of the great Russian masters following on from Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Khachaturian, Stravinsky and Shostakovich. (Aside from a few good pieces, I do not consider Tchaikovsky nor Rachmaninov worthy of inclusion.) I'm not sure why but I seemed to have a thing for the letters SCH: other composers I admired inhabit the same shelf in record shops:

Schnittke's fascinating biography by his friend the cellist Alexander Ivashkin sits in the centre of my bookshelf from where Alfred's portrait surveys my Piano Room. I composed two piano pieces in his honour: Homage To Alfred and Melon Variations On A Theme By Alfred Schnittke On The Name B-A-C-H.

For more details about Schnittke's life and music, see Wikipedia, Schirmer, Boosey & Hawkes and other articles.


See Discogs for an extensive list. I won't mention all the recordings I have, just point to my personal favourites, and add that his epic Faust Cantata is one of the few operas I can bear to listen to.


Someday I'll write about my favourite pieces, but for now see my concert reports:

© copyright Malcolm Smith 2011-06-04 - last updated 2011-06-21 - links verified 2011-06-04