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Born: 1934, Engels, RussiaDied: 1998, Hamburg, Germany

“I see no conflict in being both serious and comic in the same piece. In fact, I cannot have one without the other.”

A polystylistic idiom is the hallmark of Schnittke’s music, which ranges from concert works, oratorios, ballets, operas, songs, and chamber music to 66 film scores. Though Schnittke studied at the Moscow Conservatory and even taught there himself, his approach to music was shaped by study as a teenager in Vienna, where his father, a journalist, was posted. Schnittke began working with Webernesque serialism, but soon moved in more personal, stylistically eclectic directions. He suffered several strokes in the last decade of his life, but continued to compose, though in an increasingly austere style.

Further listening:Violin Concerto No. 4 (1984)Gidon Kremer, Philharmonia, Christoph Eschenbach (Telarc)

Symphony No. 8 (1994)Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Gennady Rozhdestvensky (Chandos)