... Winter 1974/75. Vladislav
Zolotariew made up his mind to apply for admission to the Composers' Union.
He told me that he wanted to be a member of this supreme body of the Soviet
Union, although he had no advanced training. Although this goal was at
that time almost unattainable (a degree through the final examination
of the Conservatory was absolutely essential), my friend seemed very determined.
admission procedure was rather complicated. One had to submit the required
documents and attend an interview with the Composers' Union of Moscow
and the Russian Composers' Union. Because of a concert tour I did not
have the opportunity to be at the first Commission (meeting). When I was
back in Moscow, I met Vladislav and learned that the first interview did
not go very well for him. The lack of a degree through advanced training
influenced the whole course of the Composers' Union meeting, and the tape
recordings of chamber music works must have proved unconvincing. Zolotariew
only passed with reservations, as it were.
"Will you be in Moscow, when the interview takes place at the meeting
of the Russian Composers' Union?", he asked me. I would like you to play
the third sonata. A live performance should leave a greater impression
on the Commission.
Fortunately, no concert tour was planned for this time, and I came on
the appointed day to the Composers' Union. The meeting took place in the
small hall upstairs. First Zolotariew played a tape recording of "Six
Romances on Lines by a Japanese Poet" (I do not remember who performed
it.) During this I was practising in the corridor. About half an hour
after the meeting started, the door opened. Vladislav came and invited
me into the hall. His tension was evident, and I too was rather excited.
There were not many people in the hall. The well-known composer, Grigory
Fried, opened the meeting. He briefly introduced me as the soloist and
announced the work. I began to play. How did I play? Probably quite well,
although in this case one should not be modest. It was very probably one
of my best interpretations of the third sonata, 1 was prepared to give
my friend my full backing and did my best ...
In the course of the 23 minutes - the duration of the sonata - there was
a tense silence, which comes when an audience of enthusiastic professionals
listens to music. Naturally the illustrious members of the Commission
could hear that they were dealing with a great talent and that, unlike
the many young composers who have attended composition classes at college
and aimed for the highest rank of composer, this talent was original and
had a unique way of musical thinking. What made the first interview become
a relative failure for Vladislav Zolotariew, to my amazement, did not
happen this time. A lot of people envied him. In particular, there was
a barely concealed jealousy among composers; and there were also "principles":
no training, "he did not attend the Conservatory", "homeless and no family",
he had however terrific success among Bayan players. But today there were
well-known composers in the hall such as Gubaidulina, Artyomov and a lot
of others. These were the people on whom the judgment on the applicant's
talent largely depended for membership of the Composers' Union.
... The last hushed chords of the finale died away. The music floated
through the silence. The Chairman thanked me and asked me to remain for
the discussion. I went up to Zolotariew, who was sitting near Gubaidulina.
The discussion was very emotional. Nearly everyone was keen to speak on
behalf of the young composer.
Gubaidulina was one of the first to speak. I saw her close for the first
time, but for Vladislav she was already an undisputed authority. She spoke
of the talent of the young composer, who definitely deserved support.
Her voice was not loud, but sounded very important. Among other speakers
I too asked to be allowed to speak. I stressed how important Zolotariew
was for us Bayan players.
The appearance of Vyacheslav Artyomov: I can remember nearly every word
he said: "What are we talking about here anyhow? It is about an extraordinarily
talented, highly professional, accomplished composer! I suggest that we
finish the interview and vote on admitting Zolotariew into the Composers'
Union." (Artyomov later became well known, when his Requiem and cycle
of symphonies were performed by Mstislav Rostropovich and the Washington
I looked at Vladislav sideways. I was filled with pride for my friend.
He was calm as always; just a slight smile of embarrassment revealed his
The final stroke was made to the discussion by the Chairman, Grigory Fried:
I must confess that ( have been literally overwhelmed by the Bayan sonata
and, if I had any doubts on first hearing Zolotariew's music, these have
now been completely dispelled."
At the end of the meeting many people rushed up to Vladislav to congratulate
him. First, Gubaidulina came and congratulated us both warmly and sincerely.
Then followed a whole lot of composers. Naturally I did not fail to question
her about her relationship with the Bayan and whether she would write
something: would gladly write a work for the Bayan, but I must familiarize
myself with this instrument, that is to say, I do not know it at all.
It seems to me that it has enormous potential. Could you help me with
I was in seventh heaven of happiness. Gubaidulina, the same Gubaidulina,
about whom Vladislav Zolotariew had told me so much already, is enthusiastic
about an instrument new to her and is actually inviting me to work with
her! We exchanged addresses and arranged a meeting.
Though the process of Solotaryov's admission to the Composers' Union had
a happy outcome, sadly it did not have its logical conclusion. While the
formalities of his membership of the Union were being finalized, on 13
May 1975 he committed suicide - a black day in the history of the Bayan.
On that day Vladislav Zolotariew died. He did away with himself ... (on
the possible reasons - another time)
... My contact with Gubaidulina began soon after this meeting at the Composers'
Union. She came to see me at the Institute, in the class and at home.
I naturally explained to her all the possibilities of the instrument,
the bellows technique, how sound is created, the registers. However, I
was astonished how pedantically she asked about all the details, how meticulously
she probed every detail which seemed of little importance to us Bayan
players. She was striving, so to speak, to penetrate under the hide of
this monster (as she subsequently called the Bayan) and to get to know
it from inside. Frankly, contact with her was always very pleasant and
informative. No hint of anything unusual. Absolutely approachable, she
radiated the light of both joy and sorrow. Moreover, there is no doubt
that she has a special relationship with God - one can feel this immediately.
In her presence one wants to be a better and purer person oneself, because
one feels a magnetic attraction from an aura of crystal-clear purity.
She never made any negative comment about a. single composer, and how
she loved those who performed her music!
She completed her first work for Bayan "De Profundis" in 1978. She came
to me in the class at the Institute and played it on the grand piano.
I was enchanted, not only with the music, but also how well she used the
reeds of the Bayan which showed the acoustic potential of the instrument
in a fresh new way. At my request she introduced for the first time into
Russian musical literature the tonal glissando. Of course I had to make
some editorial corrections, when working on this piece, to, make the notation
more comfortable for Bayan players, but this was not work, but a pleasure.
In contrast, I used to receive from some authors works for the Bayan,
which I not only had to re-edit, but literally re-write. (I remember how
a fairly well-known composer, who invited me to play his piece in his
class after meeting in the corridor of the Institute, said to me beforehand*
"Pianists won't play this. Will you try; perhaps it will go better on
the Bayan." I never played that piece!)
On one of my few concert trips abroad at the time I put "De Profundis"
on the program. These concerts in Scandinavia were organized for me by
the well-known Danish musician and teacher, Mogens Ellegaard. The trip
was arranged by the concert agency, Gosconcert. In those days the correspondence
with the concert organizer and the formalities for a foreign trip lasted
months. Three weeks before my departure the telephone rang. The caller
was Vladimir Sergeyevich lvanov, an official from Gosconcert: "Friedrich,
you cannot play the piece by Gubaidulina in Scandinavia" "Why not? " "All
programs by artists making concert trips abroad must be approved by the
Central Committee of the Communist Party. This piece has not been approved."
"But it is a very good piece, and Gubaidulina is an excellent composer,
who is already very well known." "You know, this composer is not consistent.
Sometimes she writes well, then again badly. You had better play something
by Shostakovich." "But Shostakovich didn't write for the Bayan!" "Never
mind! Or by Chrennikov. Take a piece from the opera "In the Storm"
and adapt it." I have great respect for both Shostakovich and Chrennikov
and will certainly make an adaptation of their works in future, but for
this concert trip I would like to play abroad original works which have
been specially written for the Bayan."
I was very calm during this conversation, although a flood of thoughts
were spinning around in my head. I already sensed the possible consequences,
that the music of the troika well known among the initiated, Schnittke,
Gubaidulina and Denissov, was secretly forbidden. Gennady Roshdyestvensky
would therefore give the première of Schnittke's first symphony
not in Moscow, but in Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod); authors' evenings with
Denissov were canceled, in reports of meetings of the Composers' Union
its first Secretary, T Chrehnikov spoke of excessive enthusiasm of some
composers for religious themes (everyone knew that he was of course targeting
Gubaidulina). In general the dialogue was affected and trivial. I therefore
made the following resolution: if it is forbidden to mention the piece
on the poster - then I will play it outside the program. The consequences
of doing this could be grave: reviews appear in the western press on the
following day, all works are named and analyzed, the critics will give
particular prominence to Gubaidulina's place. The reviews reach the embassy,
which will in turn inform the appropriate office In Moscow, and then there
is one more musician who is no longer allowed to leave his/ her home town.
Vladimir Sergeyevich Ivanov was essentially a good man and always treated
me courteously. Therefore he did not try to put pressure on me, but led
me on to a higher authority.
"Ail right. If you persist - take the score and the Bayan and show the
work to Valery Michailovich Kurshiyamsky at the Ministry of Culture of
the USSR. Perhaps he can make a positive decision."
This turn made me happy. Even in my student days, when I was a soloist
in the concert department of Gosconcert, the future conductor of the philharmonic
department heard me, when I embarked on my artistic career. (I remember
playing at the time the "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" by Bach, "A la
Albeniz" by Schedrin and "Partita" by Zolotariew") and was the initiator
of my promotion to the philharmonic department. Later he worked as conductor
at the opera and ballet theater in Alma Ata, after which he returned to
Moscow to take up a management post in the Soviet Ministry of Culture
as Deputy Head of Administration of school and musical institutions
I took the score and went to the Ministry. Kurshiyamsky immediately hurled
questions at me: "Why do you want to play Gubaidulina abroad?" "Because
it is good music". "Give me the score!"
He began to look through
the score of the piece and asked his questions half jokingly in a deliberate
"What is that?" "That is a cluster."
"And that, what is that? " "That is a glissando with cluster." "And
"That is a tonal glissando ... and that is the sound of the air button."
I understood that our officials and party functionaries feared that composers
could reproduce something anti-Soviet with sounds, but I had good reason
to trust Kurshiyamsky; he was different. And I was not mistaken. Finally,
he shut the score, passed it to me and said: "For my part, I know that
you are a creative person. Play anything you like."
In the early 1990s I was working in Spain
and, on reading the monthly magazines that I usually take with me when
traveling, I learned that V M Kurshiyamsky had been murdered in the drive
at his home.
My expectations regarding reaction to Gubaidulina's
piece during my concert trip proved true: the critics, who altogether
reacted positively to my concerts, constantly emphasized the work "Sofia
Asgatovnas". Seppo Heikinheimo, the leading Finnish music critic of the
country's major newspaper, "Helsinki Sanomat" - a passionate admirer of
Gubaidulina's work, also well known as translator and editor of the Finnish
edition of Solomon Volkovís internationally infamous book on Dimitri Shostakovich
was so enthusiastic about the piece, that he suggested a performance at
the prestigious festival of organ music in Lahti.
... If I am asked my opinion about the role
of Viadislav Zolotariew and Sofia Gubaidulina in the history of the Bayan,
then I would briefly answer as follows: Zolotariew raised the Bayan through
his work and brought it out of the sphere of specific Bayan music into
the world of chamber music, and Gubaidulina, on the strength of her authority
and reputation, received the Bayan from the hands of Zolotariew and helped
him to his well-earned place on the academic stage.