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Alfred Schnittke was a leading Soviet composer from the post-Shostakovich generation * Father of German-Jewish extraction from Baltic area, mother a Volga German of Catholic background * The young composer’s first language is German, and from 1945 to 1948 lives in Vienna where he studies piano and hears much classical music * From 1953 to 1961 studies at Moscow Conservatoire with Evgeny Golubev (composition) and Nikolai Rakov (orchestration) * In 1962 begins work as film-composer, eventually writing scores for more than 60 films * Serious compositions in 1960s show him mastering various languages of modern music, producing a colourful and expressive synthesis in a work like Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2 (‘Quasi una sonata’) * In 1972 completes Symphony No.1, a monumental and tragic fresco of collage and stylisation, compared to Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, whose first performance caused conflict with the authorities * Invents the term ‘polystylism’ to describe such working with different styles * From late 1970s increasingly deeply religious in outlook * In 1980s moves away from ‘polystylism’ towards more integrated and personal style, as seen in Viola Concerto and Cello Concerto No.1 Central to middle-period output are many string concertos for the leading players of his day including Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet and Mstislav Rostropovich * In 1985 has first of several strokes * From 1989 he and his wife spend more time outside USSR, travelling or living in Hamburg * Last years marked by marked outward fame and inward withdrawal from the world, in pieces like Symphony No.6 and String Quartet No.4 * Dies after long illness

Works by Alfred Schnittke include:
Symphonies Nos.1-8 (1972-98)
Life with an Idiot opera in 3 acts (1991)
Viola Concerto (1985)

Works by Schnittke are represented by Boosey & Hawkes in the UK, British Commonwealth (excluding Canada) and the Republic of Ireland

"How important it is to catch up with yourself! There are enormous forces lurking within everyone, but many people die without having discovered this." — Alfred Schnittke

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