Original accordion music of Russian composers has deserved success and necessarily includes in repertoire of accordion students and professional artists on academic stage all over the world. Musical pieces of Vladislav Zolotarev and Evgeny Derbenko, Vladimir Zubitsky and Albin Repnikov, Viatcheslav Tchernikov and Anatoly Kusyakov can be heard at every important international competition of accordionists in programs of players from all over the world. First article of the series about Russian composers is just short overview of development of our accordion repertoire in USSR and Russia.
Art of Russian harmonica and accordion has long period of history, more than 150 years, but in first part of 20th century harmonica still was just an instrument of entertainment. Since the end of 19th century some players tried to expand repertoire of harmonica by using classical music pieces. That was the activities of first well known Russian harmonica players like Piotr Nevsky, Piotr Zhukov, Jakov and Sergey Orlansky-Titarenko. However the repertoire was dominated by tunes, designed for the most unpretentious tastes.
In the second half of the 1920-s the popularity of the harmonica and bayan in USSR was extremely high. At the end of this decade the first accordion classes in special musical secondary and primary schools in Moscow, Leningrad (Saint-Petersburg), Nizhny Novgorod and other cities of the Soviet Union have opened. Distribution of professional education for folk musicians led to the active development of the repertoire. In 1935 an important event occurred: the 22 of May for the first time in concert academic practice renowned accordionist Pavel Gvozdev gave a recital in two parts on the famous stage – Leningrad’s Hall of Chamber Music Society. Program of concert included a fairly sophisticated works of classical music. And two years later in one of the most prestigious concert stages on USSR – Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic – was executed the first major work written for the accordion – Concerto for accordion and orchestra by Pheodosiy Rubtsov, performed also by P. Gvozdev. These events have largely changed opinion of musicians about artistic possibilities of the bayan (button accordion).
In the 1930-s another part of the accordion art and repertoire had intensive development – incarnation of folk music of USSR nations on concert stage. This direction is associated primarily with the name of talented accordionist-composer Ivan Panitskiy and his Russian folk songs arrangements.
Active formation of Bayan repertoire begins in the middle of 40-s – 50-s. The large spread in the pedagogical and concert life have had first major solo works for the instrument – Sonata h-moll (1944) and Concerto for accordion and symphony orchestra B-dur (1951) both by Nikolay Tchaikin . These works formed the basis of the repertoire of higher and secondary musical education.
Important role was played by first in USSR department of folk instruments in high school, opened in 1948 at the State Musical Pedagogical Institute by Gnesins’ (now the Gnesin Russian Academy of Music) in Moscow. First students of Gnesin Institute actively influenced on formation and further development of the education and performing art of the accordion, formed repertoire in collaboration with composers. Since 1958 Soviet accordionists began to participate in international competitions, demonstrate soviet accordion music and meet European and world accordion traditions. That time appeared first colourful, original works for accordion by Albin Repnikov – “Capriccio”, Concert for bayan and orchestra and others, well-known “Suite for bayan” written by one of most respected traditional symphony composers Alexander Kholminov, as well as new compositions for bayan by Tchaikin, for example, Concert Suite (1962).
Since 1965 accordion repertoire began to grow by works of young composer Vladislav Zolotarev. With his music Russian players discovered new possibilities of multi-timbre free bass accordion, every of his new compositions had new images, unexpected for traditional bayan, new specific bayan textures and performance methods.
Perhaps one of the most important incentives for Russian composers to turn to accordion became activities and work of Friedrich Lips. Since 1970-s he started to attract many outstanding composers to cooperate for creating new accordion repertoire. He precisely felt necessary updates in images and stylistic line of traditional accordion repertoire, which was only possible in co-operation with the best professional composers. Only real composers had power and talent to discover and change “face” of the instrument. Thanks for F. Lips activities in Moscow, as well as other outstanding persons like Viatcheslav Semionov in Rostov-on-Don, Oleg Sharov in Leningrad (Saint-Petersburg), there are many new names and pieces appeared in accordion music: Gennady Banshchikov, Anatoly Kusyakov, Kirill Volkov, Alexander Zhurbin. In the late 70-s Sofia Gubaidulina turns to accordion art and composed her compositions for F. Lips: “De Profundis”, “Et Expecto”. Later Sergei Berinsky, Edison Denisov and some other well-known Soviet and Russian authors composed music for accordion in different styles and forms using contemporary musical language. Highest level modern composers opened and developed accordion possibilities in dodecaphony, serial technique, aleatory music, searched new timbre palette, new sonority, clusters, for example. Maybe a little later then in Europe but all types of cluster’s by “fingers sheaf” and back of palm, non tempered glissando, using air button as “breath” of accordion etc. became usual way of expression for composer’s ideas in soviet accordion repertoire.
The beginning of renewing for Russian accordion music and first step into contemporary style became “Sonata N. 3” by Vladislav Zolotarev (1974). This piece immediately became one of the most often performed compositions in accordion repertoire.
In next articles I would like to write about modern Russian composers, who composed for bayan successfully. With important names in accordion repertoire like Sofia Gubaidulina, Sergey Berinsky, Viatcheslav Semionov, Efrem Podgaits (and may be some others) and their works I’ll try to describe the modern situation with accordion music in Russia. The selection of composers’ names based on my point of view that these authors, each in its own way, are the flagships of different trends in accordion art and, of course, they form the image of modern Russian music for accordion. According to the authors we can decide what is going on in the Russian accordion school affairs. Works of these composers determines the course of the accordion repertoire in the XXI century.
by Yulia Amerikova
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