In Russia, it is necessary to create its own brands of synthesizers, the national song is dying, and in the academic music of the 21st century, the melody comes to the fore. About it Izvestia was told by the composer, conductor and artistic director of the Academic Bolshoi Concert Orchestra. Yu.V. Silantieva Alexander Klevitsky. The conversation took place on the eve of his author’s concert in the Great Hall of the Conservatory (June 8). The evening opens with the Born by Russia music festival.
— Your author’s concert will feature three world premieres – a symphony and two concerts. How relevant are these genres today?
— The relevance of any essay is assessed from two positions – commercial and artistic. Almost all tickets for my concert have been sold. This means that the public has an interest in major academic genres… Today, musical aesthetics are constantly changing, thousands of compositions in different genres appear every day. And while composers are looking for new approaches to symphony and concert, they remain relevant. For both authors and listeners.
Modern man gets lost in the flow of musical information. Young people are mostly absorbed in rap. But I am a man of sounds and try not to divide music into genres and styles. There is good music and bad, talented and tasteless. And in rap you can find some kind of valuable grain. It’s not all bad.
As for academic music, in the 20th century, rhythm was in the foreground, and less attention was paid to melody. Today, both the composer and the listener are again interested in a beautiful melody, which, as you know, is the queen of music.
– Your symphony “XXI century. The fight continues ”was written before the pandemic, but at the same time it is absolutely in tune with current events. Did you have a presentiment for 2020?
– I really had a presentiment. Any musician has psychic abilities to some extent.
– Why is the “struggle going on”? What does the name mean?
— Living in the XX century, we hoped that in the XXI we will love each other, unite in the fight against the elements, bureaucracy and other troubles. Unfortunately, it turned out the other way around. The piece begins with vibraphone sounds, which are transformed into bells by the end of the symphony. Like Hemingway: “For whom does the bell toll?” For each of us.
– This is your first symphony. You wrote it at the age of 65, and before that you worked a lot in the field of popular music. Why, as an accomplished author, did you decide to turn to major academic genres?
– A symphony can be compared to a novel. You need to mature to write it. And here I was helped by the fact that I am a conductor and have been leading the orchestra for 15 years, I work with him every day. During this time, of course, I managed to deeply study its capabilities and potential.
Composer and conductor Alexander Klevitsky
Фото: Global Look Press/Anatoly Lomokhov
As for the turn from popular music to academic – the fact is that at some stage I realized that the genre of the song is cramped for me. A modern popular song is the lot of young people. It will be funny if I write a rap. I can, of course, if something comes to my mind, there are no forbidden directions for me. But now I’m more interested in the academic field. I am very sorry that I did not write in these serious genres before. But in general, I am not a supporter of dividing everything into styles. Yes, there are genre features, but for me the indivisible richness of sounds is more important.
– For many years you worked in the Union of Composers of the USSR as deputy chairman of the commission on jazz-pop and song music. What, in your opinion, was the status of the song then and now?
— Then the song was a wonderful phenomenon – a fusion of great directions. The Soviet song has absorbed a lot, it is a synthetic genre. In addition, great composers and poets worked in it. Therefore, masterpieces appeared. I will say this: they used to write poetry, now they write words. By the way, after all, people celebrated some events mostly at home. And they almost always sang. This can be called a Soviet tradition, a national phenomenon. And everyone knew the songs that were created by professional composers. The melodies were like diamonds. I’m not even talking about a huge, wonderful layer of wartime music. This is real art!
At the end of the eras, when everything collapsed, instead of real songs, they began to write ridiculous crafts with stupid words. Everyone decided that he could now be a composer and poet. As a result, we got from amazing art what we see now.… All radio stations began broadcasting foreign songs in English 24 hours a day. I have always been a fan of The Beatles, Deep Purple, Queen, but I was very sorry that such a huge part of the culture as the national song is dying.
– Is the Composers’ Union doing something to preserve song traditions?
– Of course, the Union of Composers has a song commission. We try to keep traditions. But it all depends on the market situation. And it is such that young people today are drawn to someone else.
Fortunately, we are at our best in the academic genre, the Russian school of composition exists and is still very strong. Why is it different in popular music? Why should we sing in English, order songs from foreign authors? We have great composers who can write trendy music. Otherwise, we will become a third world country. We need our good, and not imposed other people’s tricks.
In general, we need to develop our pop and music industry as a whole. For example, it would be great if our industry started creating modern musical instruments. We use foreign synthesizers, guitars. Can’t we create our own brands that would be popular in the world? Because our programmers who create music software are leaving for the West. I would very much like to change that.
– How do you feel about modern trends in popular music? How do you look at Morgenstern, for example?
– With tears in his eyes. How else can a professional musician feel about this? Morgenstern is a shocking, artificially created image. But, unfortunately, if an outstanding violinist plays on one TV channel, and a madman shows his naked ass on the other, the people will prefer the latter. Engaging base feelings is the easiest way to get attention.
Photo: Izvestia / Andrey Ershtrem
You can blame the Soviet government for the fact that there were artistic councils. But they would definitely not have missed such phenomena. Wherein Morgerstern could exist in the USSR, but as a representative of the underground. Why not? The underground is also needed, young people should go to clubs and dance to something there. Therefore, if someone likes Morgenstern, I do not mind. But it shouldn’t be on the central TV channels.
– Nevertheless, you say that you can hear something good in rap too.
– Yes, sometimes I hear a nice melody. Throw away the rubbish they read and leave the music!
– It is known that you have been very seriously ill with coronavirus. How did this affect your music?
— I was in intensive care, I had 87% lung damage. But even when I was really bad, I remained optimistic. I had a tablet with a music program with me. I wrote down some ideas there, and as soon as I got out of the intensive care unit, in ten days I wrote a piano concerto without going to the instrument… When I was composing, I thought about Ekaterina Mechetina (pianist, soloist of the Moscow Philharmonic – Izvestia). After leaving the hospital, I called her, sent her notes by e-mail. She liked the music, and now she plays it in the Great Hall of the Conservatory.
And in pursuit of the piano concert, he also created a concert for French horn “Winter’s Tale”. The winter was snowy and beautiful. I lived outside the city. They ate standing in the snow – beauty! So this kind of music was born. It begins with a lullaby, then evil forces arrive, there is a struggle, but in the end everything calms down and ends peacefully. I tend to create light images. And this situation with a serious illness only strengthened my desire for light.
– Will you get vaccinated?
— Due to the severe course of the disease, I still have many antibodies to the virus. When they fall, I’ll immediately run to get vaccinated – I won’t wish the enemy to go through what I was when I was sick with covid.
Photo: Izvestia / Alexander Polegenko
– Vladimir Putin instructed the government to make proposals for the systematic support of composers in Russia. How do you think it should be done?
— I am glad that the President paid attention to the problem. I think we should remember the Soviet experience. In the USSR, there was a wonderful mechanism worked out: a procurement commission worked, which, on a competitive basis, selected published essays. There was a scale of rates, and the commission decided what price to award a given composition. These purchases were made every year. Due to this, a lot of new music was created. Of course, academic composers weren’t rich, but this system kept the composer school afloat.
— Leonid Desyatnikov believes that the end of the composers’ time, predicted by Vladimir Martynov, has already come. Do you agree?
– I fundamentally disagree. When they talk about the end of the time of composers, they mean that all great things have already been written. But Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky could have said the same, because before him there were Mozart, Beethoven, Glinka. There is always a baggage of art from the past. But this should not prevent you from creating. You just have to sit and write music. It is desirable – good.