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  COMPOSERS
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Lev KNIPPER
1898-1974

 Lev Knipper belongs to that group of eminent Soviet composers whose works started to be noticed in the 1920’s.
Born in Tiflis in 1898 into a highly educated and noble family, Knipper received an excellent education. He was fluent in French and in German and had a great knowledge of literature and painting. A nephew of Olga Knipper-Ychekhova (one of the founders of the Art Theater of Moscow), Lev Knipper was a close friend of some of the great artists of his time, from a very young age.
Trained as a pianist (he studied with Elena Gnessina), Knipper turned to composition later on, studying under the composers R. Glière et N. Jalaïev.

In the middle of the 1920’s, Knipper was one of the most active members of  the Association for Contemporary Music. During the same period, he also became involved in conducting.
From the beginning, Knipper the composer established himself as a master orchestrator and showed a great interest in numerous musical genres.  Because of its expressive originality and masterly orchestral writing, his Plaster God’s Tales
attracted the attention of music specialists and music lovers.
In the 1930’s, Knipper’s opera, North Wind, was successfully staged by Nemirovich Dantchenko at the Stanislavsky Theater. This work, which bears the subtitle of “a tragic representation in 9 scenes” (from Kirschon’s The City of Winds) stands today as one of the most typical examples of creative research of this period.
 
Knipper’s Fourth Symphony has gained world recognition. The final theme of this vast musical cycle is the song ‘Plain, my plain’, composed by Knipper on a text by the poet Viktor Goussef.
The symphonic works are the cornerstone of Knipper’s catalogue. He wrote 20 symphonies, many orchestral suites and concertos for various formations. His first violin concerto is dedicated to Olga Knipper Tchekhjova. Knipper’s works have been performed by numerous famous musicians and orchestras conducted by personalities as prestigious as Evgueni Svetlanov, Guennadi Rojdestvenski, Alexander Melik-Pachaiev, among others.

An accomplished sportsman, football and tennis player, Knipper was also an adept of Alpinism, this “sport of the brave”. Many works – the Mountain Serenade, for string orchestra, The North Caucasian Overture for orchestra, the Iranian-like piece Radif, for string quartet and chamber orchestra, and the Vantch Suite, named after the vast, turbulent river that sinks into the foothills of Pamir (Tadjikistan) – were created at different periods of his artistic life, from the enchantment felt under the spell of such natural beauty spots as the North Caucasus, Pamir and Tian-Chan.

From the 1960’s the directness of his musical expression (“poster style”), the intensity of his extremely picturesque orchestral colours, without losing the expressive strength of their enunciation, acquires a more philosophical and lyric-epic dimension. The oboe, bassoon, clarinet, violin and cello concertos written during this period are close to a particular type of instrumental monologue which shares the composer’s thoughts and feelings with the listener, thus revealing his complex inner world, sometimes contradictory, yet invariably beautiful.

The Concerto-Poem, for cello, strings and percussion (1968) belongs to this category. It was dedicated to the famous cellist Natalia Chakhovskaïa, who gave it its first performance.

In the last part of his fruitful and original artistic life, the philosophical and theatrical tale in three parts written in 1969 –1971 should be mentioned: Le Petit Prince (after Saint-Exupéry). This work was first performed in 1978, four years avec the composer’s death (1974), to commemorate his eightieth birthday.

Knipper’s creative streak remained vigorous until his last breath. On the final page of his diary, one can read: “I fear I won’t have time to do the essential, what I could achieve in my life, but didn’t manage to achieve yet.” It is not for nothing that the great conductor Evgeny Svetlanov gave the following title to  the book he has dedicated to Knipper: Nulla dies sine linea.  


Works available in the catalogue :

Scores :
  Candide (REF:PN4202)
  Concerto-Poème pour violoncelle, cordes et percussions (REF:PO4320)
  Plaine, ma plaine (REF:VF1004A)
  Plaine, ma plaine (REF:VF1004B)
  Plaine, ma plaine (REF:VF1004C)
  Quatuor à cordes n°1 (REF:MC4209)
  Quatuor à cordes n°2 (REF:MC4210)
  Scherzo de concert (REF:VP4204)
  Symphonie n°4, "plaine ma plaine" (REF:PO4907)
  Trio avec piano n°1 (REF:MC4207)
  Trio avec piano n°2 (REF:MC4208)

Orchestral Material :
  Maku
  Symphonie n°4, "plaine ma plaine" (REF:PO4907)
 
 
     
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