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Alfred Schnittke

Works by Alfred Schnittke 35

Alfred Schnittke biography

1934Alfred Schnittke was born on 24th November in Engels (capital of the former Wolga-German Republic), his father is a journalist and his mother a German teacher.

1941 – During a visit to his grandparents in Moscow Alfred Schnittke is registered at a central music school, but the outbreak of war prevents the education. Return to Engels.

1946–1948 – Move to Vienna. He begins his musical education in Vienna, studies piano with Charlotte Ruber, attends opera performances and concerts, first compositions.

1948–1953 – Move to Valentinowka near Moskau. Studies choral conducting at a music school, studies piano and takes lessons in music theory.

1953–1958 – Studies at the Moscow Conservatory (counterpoint and composition with Jewgeni Golubew, instrumentation with Nikolai Rakow). Schnittke composes vocal works and piano variations.

19561st Violin Concerto.

1958–1961 – Composes the oratorio Nagasaki as his diploma thesis at the Moscow Conservatory. He is severely criticised for his expressionist and modern attitude. Schnittke joins the Union of Composers of the USSR.

1959 – Cantata Songs of War and Peace (world premiere in 1960 in Moscow).

1960Concerto for piano and orchestra.

1961–1972 – is appointed instructor in instrumentation (against a humble fee per hour) at the Conservatory. Writes numerous theoretical papers on new music. Trips to Poland and GDR.

1965Dialogue for violoncello and 7 instrumentalists.

19661st String Quartet, 2nd Violin Concerto.

1968... Pianissimo ... for large symphony orchestra; Serenade for chamber ensemble.

1969–19721st Symphony.

1972 – Concert tour to Germany and Austria with Gidon Kremer, Tatjana Grindenko and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Saulus Sondetzki.


19761st Concerto grosso, which becomes a great success.

1978 3rd Violin Concerto.

1979 – Schnittke is guest of the British Council. 2nd Symphony St. Florian.

1980 – Guest professor at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts. 2nd String Quartett.

1981 – Schnittke joins the West Berlin Academy of Fine Arts.

1982 – Cantata "Seid nüchtern und wachet..."

19844th Violin Concerto.

1985 – Schnittke suffers the first stroke. (K)ein Sommernachtstraum.

1986 – Becomes a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in Stockholm and the Academy of Fine Arts in München and East Berlin.
Ballet Peer Gynt (receives its world premiere in 1989 in Hamburg) commissioned by the Hamburg State Opera for John Neumeier.

1989 – Move to Berlin where he works as a fellow of the academic staff and ‚composer in residence’ of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra until July 1990. Concert for piano for 4 mains and chamber orchestra.

1990 – Move to Hamburg, receives the German citizenship. Teaches composition at the Hamburg music university, honorary member of the ‘Freie Akademie der Künste’ in Hamburg.

1991–1994 – Composes a gigantic late work consisting of 26 individual pieces; among which are the 3 operas Life with an idiot, Gesualdo, Historia von D. Johann Fausten, 3 symphonies (6–8), 8 orchestra works, 1 quartet, 1 trio and 2 sonatas, piano works, choral and vocal works.

1991 – Schnittke is awarded the Austrian State Prize. In July he suffers another stroke.
Completes his first opera Life with an Idiot which receives a fantastic world premiere in Amsterdam.

1992 – Japan’s Imperial Prize and the Bach Prize of the City of Hamburg. Presentation of the film The last Days of St. Petersburg with music by Alfred and Andrej Schnittke in Frankfurt/Main.

1993 – Russian Cultural Prize.

1994 – Schnittke suffers another series of strokes in June. His 60th birthday is celebrated with anniversary concerts and major festivals.

1998 – Alfred Schnittke dies on 3rd August in the Hamburg University hospital Eppendorf at the age of 63 years after suffering another stroke. On 10th August the composer is honored with a state funeral in Moscow.

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