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Tikhon Khrennikov


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Author Topic: Tikhon Khrennikov  (Read 1695 times)
Gauk
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« on: April 19, 2013, 06:18:50 pm »

For those fond of 2nd rate Soviet composers - just a note that the Melodiya re-issue of Khrennikov's complete symphonies is now shipping - my pre-order arrived today.

http://www.mdt.co.uk/khrennikov-tikhon-symphonies-concertos-melodiya-3cds.html
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 10:22:12 pm »

For those fond of 2nd rate Soviet composers - just a note that the Melodiya re-issue of Khrennikov's complete symphonies is now shipping - my pre-order arrived today.

http://www.mdt.co.uk/khrennikov-tikhon-symphonies-concertos-melodiya-3cds.html
Thank you for the information,Gauk! I,erm,already have these & the piano concertos. Khrennikov aside Roll Eyes,this is good news in one sense,as it seems to indicate that Melodiya are finally getting towards releasing the less well known composers in their catalogue. Well hopefully,anyway!
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2013, 01:49:06 am »

Khrennikov . . .

You obviously cannot forgive Khrennikov for his record as General Secretary of the Union of Soviet Composers. It is-there can now be little doubt-a shocking and disgraceful record and Khrennikov was clearly a pretty despicable character.

Do we dismiss his own music in consequence Huh

I really don't know but I understand and respect those who do.
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kyjo
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2013, 02:43:43 am »

Thanks for the info, Gauk! This set is especially welcome since those individual Melodiya discs of his orchestral music are quite hard to get ahold of. I may be in the minority here, but I try not to let a composer's background ruin my enjoyment of his/her music. Just because Khrennikov was a terrible man shouldn't mean I can't enjoy his music Smiley
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2013, 03:28:56 am »

Thanks for the info, Gauk! This set is especially welcome since those individual Melodiya discs of his orchestral music are quite hard to get ahold of. I may be in the minority here, but I try not to let a composer's background ruin my enjoyment of his/her music. Just because Khrennikov was a terrible man shouldn't mean I can't enjoy his music Smiley
Roll Eyes Shocked I appear to be part of that minority. Vandermolen,on the GMG forum,is another one (he likes the Second symphony).So,that's three of us! Roll Eyes Shocked I wonder how the Melodiya transfers compare to mine (I forget the label & it's too late to look). Presumably,they are of superior quality.
Anyway.............better leave it at that! Roll Eyes Smiley
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tapiola
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2013, 03:51:19 am »

One must draw the line somewhere. Khrennikov is where I draw the line. The music is not worth ignoring my personal beliefs.  What he put Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Myaskovsky, Popov, Shebalin, Weinberg, and on and on is not something I can just look past because the melodies are hummable.
He was a true rat of a a sub-human. Read the stories of Prokofiev doing without food and then listen to his empty music.  He made Myaskovsky's last years a torment. Weinberg was sent to prison.  Licking Zhdanov's boots. Denying that he ever did anything questionable, etc. etc.
I just cannot do it.
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2013, 05:22:57 am »

I just cannot do it.

I was having a very interesting discussion about Khrennikov with a highly respected senior living composer in Russia - let's not name him, but we can add that he is a prominent Jewish intellectual, and has never been a CP member.

He, and many other composers, are now coming to a different conclusion about Khrennikov - that in fact Khrennikov used his position to soften Zhdanov's revenge on composers, and deflect the heat directed at them by the Kremlin.

Compare the position of composers, with that of writers?  How many composers were sent to the Gulag? How many were subjected to criminal prosecution? (Being thrown out of the Composer's Union is not 'criminal prosecution').  And then look at the writers - Mandelstam, Gumilev, etc - who were shipped off to the Gulags.

Before we write-off Khrennikov in the terms which have been used above, we ought to know substantially more about the man.

It is easy to sit pontificating, of course.  But if he saved a great many men from the Gulag, there is another side to this story.  Sad

That is all I have to say on this topic.
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Gauk
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2013, 08:58:27 am »

The CD notes point out that he was re-elected to his Union post by secret ballot after perestroika - when you would think everyone would be out for revenge. So Neil may have a point.

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Hattoff
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2013, 09:06:46 am »

Khrennikov suffered as much as any other composer at that time. Messenger shooting has been promoted by political prejudice. He was not an evil man, Stalin and Zhdanov were.
His music is not very good though there are occasional lashes of light.
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christopher
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« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2013, 10:23:01 am »

His obituary in the Economist neatly catches how Russians view him - I quote it in full below. And the Economist is anti all things Soviet.



Tikhon Khrennikov, Stalin's music master, died on August 14th, aged 94


HAD he been born in Iowa, Tikhon Khrennikov might have enjoyed a modest fame. Early discovery as a talented pianist; studies in composition, perhaps at the Juilliard School; schmoozing with Hollywood actors and directors, who would have appreciated his amiable character and his ear for a good tune. Irving Berlin and George Gershwin might have been his friends; he might have been remembered, like them, for hummable classics.

But Mr Khrennikov was born, one of ten children, into a horse-trading family in provincial Yelets, four years before the Russian revolution; and he died 16 years after the Soviet Union became Russia again. Over this period he was presented with moral choices and political demands which, as a musician, he should have been spared. He was not—like Sergei Prokofiev or Dmitri Shostakovich—a great composer. But he was the chief composer.

As secretary of the composers' union, a title he received from Joseph Stalin in 1948 and kept until the USSR disintegrated, in 1991, Mr Khrennikov had enormous powers. But he had never sought them. He had come to Moscow to be a musician, and seemed likely to succeed: not so much with classical pieces, though his first symphony was conducted by the flamboyant and popularising Leopold Stokowski, but with scores for theatre and film.

The music that made him most popular was the set of songs and serenades he wrote for the 1936 production of “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Vakhtangov theatre in Moscow. That moment was one of respite and relief, squeezed between brutal collectivisation and the beginning of the great terror. In 1935 Stalin proclaimed that “Life has become better, comrades, life is becoming more joyful,” and Mr Khrennikov's music fitted perfectly that brief, cloudless mood. In the imagined world of the Vakhtangov production evil was simply a mistake, introduced from outside, that had to be corrected.


Water-glasses and storms
Two years later such a mistake crept into Mr Khrennikov's own life. His two brothers were arrested on bogus charges. He tried to correct this evil, hiring the best lawyer he could find, and, incredibly, managed to rescue one of them. The other, however, disappeared in the Gulag.

Mr Khrennikov was scarred, but his music was unaffected. Just as Shostakovich captured the tragic side of Soviet culture, so Mr Khrennikov unswervingly expressed its optimism and Social-Realist clarity. At school, a favourite instrument had been the bright, sunny-sounding water-glasses. In later life, his songs were like him: benevolent, lyrical, slightly overweight, decent and well-meaning.

In 1939 his opera “Into the Storm”, based on a heavyweight novel by Nikolai Virta, was the first in which Lenin appeared as a character on the stage. The production was praised by Stalin and encouraged him, later, to give Mr Khrennikov his post at the composers' union. This appointment, coinciding with Stalin's campaign against “formalism” and “rootless cosmopolitans” proved as much a curse as a reward. Mr Khrennikov was only 35; his career was young. “I want to write music. What am I to do?” he asked Alexander Fadeev, the head of the writers' union, as both men waited for their special food parcels. “Connive,” replied Fadeev.

Mr Khrennikov did so. That year he read out a draconian speech which condemned Shostakovich and Prokofiev for their formalism, accusing Prokofiev of “grunting and scraping”. But he claimed that the speech had been pre-written in the Kremlin; he himself liked Prokofiev's music as much as he liked Bach and Tchaikovsky. “Live and let live” had been his father's advice to him. For all his rhetoric, he attended Prokofiev's funeral in 1953 and helped his first wife when she came out of prison. Though he publicly disliked the avant-garde music of Alfred Schnittke, he was among the first to help Schnittke when he suffered a stroke in 1985. And he was instrumental in inviting Igor Stravinsky to Russia in 1962.

He was part of a ruthless system; but he did not deliver up Jewish composers to Stalin's goons, and did not write negative references when the party demanded them. (Instead, he would say that the composer had been warned of the dangers of modernism, as if the lesson was already safely learned.) None of the composers he had charge of was killed; very few were arrested. Many, however, reported on him—for being influenced by his Jewish wife, Klara Vaks, and for sheltering Jews. But Stalin's approval gave him a certain freedom. Instead of writing hymns to his boss, like many of his peers, he made songs about the soft light in Moscow windows.

Having made himself comfortable within the regime, he extended these comforts to others. The Soviet Union looked after its artists well. Mr Khrennikov had a huge budget which was spent on building special apartments and dacha compounds for composers. The world he created behind the gates of the Ruza compound by the Moscow river, where among small lanes and woods “his” composers could find a strange, beguiling privacy, was much more tolerant than the country. The Western press called him a lackey and dictator when he died, but Russians, who knew him, did not.


Aug 30th 2007

http://www.economist.com/node/9721710




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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2013, 12:28:52 pm »

I said I wasn't going to add anything else, but just by way of underlining what Christopher has posted:

http://www.russiandvd.com/store/product.asp?sku=35715



Is it really likely that in 1993 - after the USSR had conked-out, and old scores were being settled - that Rostro, a politically-persecuted musician and champion of those who'd been trampled on by the USSR - would record Khrennikov's works, if the latter were truly "a true rat of a sub-human"?   Huh
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2013, 02:39:55 pm »

All I can say is that,when I put my cd of Khrennikov's symphonies in my cd player,it stays there on repeat. I particularly enjoy the Second & Third symphonies,although the Second is the better of the two. The music is full of tunes & harmonies that stay in the mind. He's not one of the worlds most original composers,but I think,within his limitations,he was a talented composer. I like this music. I also have his Piano Concertos. Khrennikov plays them himself & he was obviously a very fine pianist. There are some truly spectacular & memorable moments;although I think allot of that is down to Khrennikov's prowess as a pianist & not the music itself. It would be interesting to hear him playing some music by other composers. Are there any recordings available,I wonder? Incidentally,Khrennikov aside,some of the orchestral playing in the recording of his Second Symphony is of quite staggering virtuosity. Those poor,nameless musicians. Even if you think Khrennikov's music is a bore,they deserve an accolade of their own.
As everyone knows,Adolf Hitler was a dreary,uninspired painter,although he could draw a little bit,I suppose? 'Mein Kampf',is a political tract really,so it doesn't count here (Yes,it's evil,but my goodness,it's a yawn to read. I gave up after a few pages.....zzzzzzzzzzz!!) The late,Saddam Hussein fancied himself as a novelist & playwright. The one novel I have encountered read like a Middle Eastern Barbara Cartland,or Mills & Boon,with an allegorical bent;although,to be fair,the translation was probably of questionable quality. Mind you,did Saddam actually write the book,anyway? This is open to debate. But,Tikhon Khrennikov,bad or not,was imho quite a talented composer. I enjoy some of his music & if he really was a horrible person,I honestly wish I could say otherwise,but I like what I hear,so I can't!! I may buy the 3cd set,when the price falls!
Conversely,I won't be revisiting the paintings & novels of Hitler,or Saddam Hussein. Having said that,I can only be grateful that their creative efforts were dire! Imagine having to admit that you enjoyed the novels of Saddam Hussein,or liked the paintings of Adolf Hitler?!!!!  Maybe,even I'd have to throw in the towel there!
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BrianA
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« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2013, 03:39:22 pm »

I am probably less well informed than you erudite gentlemen on the life and times of T. Khrennikov, other than a very generalized awareness of his reputation as a musico-political ogre and generally unsavoury character,  but I must confess, I do enjoy his music (sorry, Tapiola!).  Why, indeed, should the devil have all the best tunes?
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Hattoff
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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2013, 10:21:26 pm »

Here#s a photo of Khrennikov with his daughter. He really doesn't look like a thuggish ogre?
http://www.mediafire.com/view/?gzogs4g8u5pezl2
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2013, 10:44:25 pm »

I can think of one Soviet composer who spent 10 years in the gulag-Mikhail Nosyrev Sad

Although it is true that he was sent there while a member of an orchestra in Leningrad. He composed in the gulag(where he also led an orchestra of inmates) and after being released.
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