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Thread: Tikhon Khrennikov

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Default Tikhon Khrennikov



    Tikhon Khrennikov was a pretty good composer who was made General Secretary of the Soviet Composer's union in 1948 by the head of the anti-formalist movement, Andrei Zhdanov. He presided over the persecution of many whose names we know well: Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Myaskovsky, Khachaturian, and others. And when Prokofiev's wife was sent to a prison camp, he refused to offer any help. He did try to shield some composers from the worst effects of the campaign, but the overall memory of his actions in those years seems to be negative.

    Khrennikov remained head of the Composer's Union until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, when it ceased to exist. He was a dedicated Stalinist until his death in 2007: "Stalin, in my opinion, knew music better than any of us." Oddly, in the 1980s he used some serial techniques in his Third Symphony, something he had attacked vigorously in earlier years.

    Here's his Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 14.



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    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    A slippery creature who didn't just advocate the party line to keep out of trouble but seemed to believe 100% in what he was doing, and arguably one of a mere handful of Soviet public figures who not only managed to remain fireproof during the Stalin era but actually thrived and remained as influential as ever after it. If, as some have suggested, he was a mere puppet then his strings must have been made from elevator cable.

    This notwithstanding, I have listened to numerous extracts of his music over the years while trying desperately to block out my prior knowledge and overriding opinion of him so as to avoid clouding my judgement as much as I could. The conclusion I reached based on what I heard was that he seemed very capable with a gift for melody in a Kabalevsky or Myaskovsky-lite sort of way but it all sounds a bit, well, synthetic - when the music does become occasionally heated it seems as if it's with the aid of a one-bar electric fire rather than with a hearth crackling with wood or coal.

    Perhaps he had the wherewithal to compose works of more substance and adventure (using serial techniques in his 3rd was something I DIDN'T expect) but there's the rub - he knew which side his bread was buttered and to the very end he composed well within himself because there was no need or motivation to do anything different while the honours were still pouring in.
    Last edited by elgars ghost; Apr-14-2015 at 12:58.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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    First composer ever who brought Lenin on opera stage. Unfortunately, in this opera, which was called "Into the Storm" Lenin was not singing (I'd love to hear some contratenor voice here) just strolling around the scene and telling few words in a very inspiring manner.

    Khrennikov and his music was on Soviet TV very often in my childhood years. By some divine grace I was able to clean it from my memory completely.

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    Senior Member sharik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elgars ghost View Post
    A slippery creature who didn't just advocate the party line to keep out of trouble but seemed to believe 100% in what he was doing
    a bit of contradiction here: a 'slippery creature' that has beliefs?.. man can't be both these ways at the same time.

    Quote Originally Posted by elgars ghost View Post
    he knew which side his bread was buttered
    that in itself isn't a sin, is it? Britten or Williams, for example, aren't known for biting the hand that fed them either.

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    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    I'm quite pleased as I think I got off lightly with you, Sharik - my post was three paragraphs long yet you pull me up on only two points.

    The first point is political and horns can be tiresomely locked for ever over such points, but as regards your second I really can't see the connection with Khrennikov especially as neither VW not Britten held any state-sanctioned position of influence, unless you might be suggesting that they were composers of moderate talent who were exaggeratedly praised during their lifetime and after.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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    Senior Member sharik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elgars ghost View Post
    neither VW not Britten held any state-sanctioned position of influence
    well, they were lucky that the Queen didn't entitle any of them with the 'sir' status or something of that kind, otherwise they'd have to comply as Khrennikov did http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_Soviet_Composers - and what's not to like about it?

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    A reminding, relevant link in the Wiki above on Khrennikov´s Seven, with some pros and cons:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khrennikov%27s_Seven
    Last edited by joen_cph; Apr-25-2015 at 09:26.

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    Senior Member sharik's Avatar
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    'Inside the USSR, the speech was almost without consequences for the composers'

    however in the west it was taken as a proof of restrictive cultural politics
    that is, the West exaggerates, as always; we should take it with grain of salt. Russia never does good, from Western point of view, whatever she does whenever and anywhere; such is the Western party line.

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    Khrennikov gives an interesting case to anybody who cares to research Soviet cultural life. "Composer", who didn't write a single piece of music worth listening was a head of State music (1948-1991) and someone who influenced everything related to music for many decades. By the way, his influence was not limited to USSR - he initiated Bartók's music ban in Hungary and created difficulties to Ligeti as well.

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    Senior Member sharik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnotherSpin View Post
    "Composer", who didn't write a single piece of music worth listening was a head of State music (1948-1991)
    that's nothing new in this world, right?

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    His symphonies are just fun! They are neither deep nor too academic, I think they are enoughly enjoyable if you tolerate the bombastic thing, although there are some lyrical moments. Considering just these works, I think he was a pretty nice orchestrator.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    It's interesting how we insist our composers be paragons of virtue. Not just virtue, but virtue of the moment -- that complex of values that we adhere to today , but that none have clung to in the past or are likely to view in the future with other than laughter. Yet how earnestly we advance our morality as the highest and best truth!
    Last edited by KenOC; Oct-19-2017 at 06:45.


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