||Choice of Career
||From Boyhood to Maturity
|List of Key Works
|Honorary Titles and Awards
In the early 1960-s another star appeared on the musical skyline to add to the bright and colorful light shed by a constellation of already famous composers. That was the star of Edward Artemiev. It remained unnoticed for a certain period of time, its light growing gradually stronger and brighter, showing with each passing year how different it is from other stars and planets of the Musical Universe which surrounded it. But even at that time, at the very early stage, when the young star was just taking real shape, the light which it emanated gave a feeling of a certain enigma, mystery which is always present when a new world is born, and only the initiates are able to understand the true essence of the phenomenon, although anybody can take the pleasure of approaching its appealing beauty.
There are good grounds for Edward Artemiev to be considered the founder of the Russian electronic music and one of the major world acclaimed cinema composers of the second half of the XX and the start of the XX centuries. His growing into a musician and professional concurred with significant stages in the Russian history. The very first steps in art Artemiev made at a time which was further romantically termed the “Khrushchev’s thaw”. The natural talent was polished and developed under the Brezhnev’s “stagnation period” marked by an amazing concentration of artistic ideas and discoveries, while broader fame came to him at a dynamic time of democratic reform and transformations fraught with internal collapses and crack ups.
It would be fairly naive to try and discover certain regularities or interconnections between political and social events that have taken place in Russia over several decades and the creative quest of Edward Artemiev. Being a younger contemporary and a colleague of Alfred Schnittke, Edison Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina and other representatives of the Russian vanguard movement whose works added an original vigor and a very special coloring to the XX century music, Edward Artemiev has never been either in a group of artists working to an ideological order, or sided with those who were openly in opposition to the then existing system and to whom the interest of authorities was particularly intense. This to a considerable degree could be explained by an esoteric conduct of the composer himself who would prefer the solitude of his own studio, intensive work of mind and submergence into the world of musical fantasy to the brash showiness of public presentations, flashiness of social gatherings and parties. Maybe, that is the reason why despite his numerous meetings, both on friendly terms and for creative work, with the most famous musicians, poets, directors, and actors the outline of his biography outwardly would not seem to be rich in events pleasing the curiosity of journalists and the middlebrow. Meanwhile, the spiritual intensity and the powerful appeal of his musical works are evidence of an intent spiritual life, its dynamic development manifesting the tenacity and will of a person who is well aware of his purpose in life.
The book offered to the reader is an attempt to comprehensively study the life and creative work of Edward Artemiev, the People’s Artist of Russia and the winner of a number of State awards. It is only natural that before this book was written, approximately since the late 1970-s, articles, reviews, interviews would be published in the press, radio and TV programs would appear on the air. Nonetheless, in articles and programs devoted to E. Artemiev’s work the emphasis was mostly made on one of the aspects of his artistic activity related either to cinematography, or to electronic music. The objective of this monograph is to combine the two key components of Artemiev’s creativity into a single wholesome entity, and while studying the life of the composer and his musical pieces to try and produce a multi-dimensional portrait of a musician who is perceptive both to new discoveries in contemporary art and is able to delicately preserve the classical heritage of the previous generations.
I must confess that it took me long to write the book and I have put much love into it. The reason for writing the book for a long time was that I was waiting for the completion of a large-scale and undoubtedly most prominent work of the composer — the opera “Raskolnikov” based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel “Crime and Punishment”. As for love, for many years have we been tied not only by professional activity, but also by very warm human relationships, due to which, even involuntary, I will introduce a certain note of subjectivity into my work. Nevertheless, I do hope that the communication with the composer for such a long time, having the opportunity to follow the creative process relating to some of his works from the very concept of a composition to the artistic implementation and performance will help me to get closer to the understanding of the very essence of the musician’s nature, reveal the profoundness and the very special nature of the composer’s creativity with all the undeniable virtues and shortcomings inherent to it.
There is another most significant element which compelled me to write this book. The matter is that I would like to dispel a notion, which has become fairly widespread, that Edward Artemiev is a composer who has reached high international standing and recognition exclusively due to the cinematograph. Indeed, the first time his name attracted universal attention of his compatriots was after the release of the films “Solaris”, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and “The Slave of Love” by Nikita Mikhalkov. Cooperation with these directors, and with many others, however, opened up extensive opportunities for his active work and the implementation of experimental and innovative ideas of electronic music by which he was so much carried away at the time. His success in cinematography was marked by St. George Prize awarded at the XXIII Moscow International Cinema Festival for a “significant contribution to the world cinematography”. Edward Artemiev was twice awarded the national Nike Prize “for the best film score” and 4 times was the winner of the State Prize, and OPTIMA Prize for the art to bring closer the human being and information in the nomination “Art”.
However, apart from composing popular music soundtracks to Russian and foreign films, Edward Artemiev’s creative work is also rich in samples of academic genres (opera’s, cantatas, symphonies, instrumental works and vocal music), music to theatrical performances, and certainly, electroacoustic compositions which brought world fame to him. It so happened though that the latter are more famous abroad than in his motherland. The evidence to it is the election of Edward Artemiev Member of the Academy of Electroacoustic Music in Bourges (France), award of the title of an Honorary Citizen of the city of Baltimore in the USA, organization of concerts and festivals of his works and films with his music in countries of Western Europe.
For all our respect to the fans of Edward Artemiev’s talent abroad, we cannot really put up with the fact that his popularity has not reached the same scope in Russia.
Therefore, the key goal of the monograph offered to the reader is not only to objectively cover the musical achievements of the composer, but to eliminate gaps and black holes in the activity of one of the major maîtres of contemporary art, as well as to comprehensively tell the reader about all his works for them to be appreciated to the full merit. It should be added here that a considerable portion of Edward Artemiev’s works is recorded on compact discs, others are published and performed in concerts. But there are also those awaiting their time. It is also my objective to tell the reader about them.
In conclusion, I would wish to express my sincere gratitude to Edward and Izolda Artemievs who so kindly provided the materials, sheet music, letters, documents from their family archive, and also all those who rendered help and assistance to me in getting the necessary information. My special thanks are extended to the Director of the Moscow Conservatoire archive L. Starostinova.
Tatiana Yegorova: «Edward Artemiev’s Musical Universe»
(«Vagrius Publishers», Moscow, 2007)
I first heard the music of Russian composer and electronic musician Edward Artemiev nearly 10 years ago, when I was sent a batch of CDs from the «Electroshock Records» label, run by Edward’s son Artemiy, also a fine composer and musician. I had actually been introduced to Artemiev much earlier, though I had been unaware of it, when I saw «Solaris», the popular science fiction film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. Artemiev creates both challenging experimental music and beautifully symphonic works. And in addition to «Solaris» he has scored the soundtracks to many films in Russia, as well as the American TV movie, «The Odyssey».
In »Edward Artemiev’s Musical Universe», Tatiana Yegorova tells Edward Artemiev’s story, an artist she considers to be the founder of Russian electronic music. The book is both biography and detailed analysis of Artemiev’s work. Born November 30, 1937, Artemiev came of age as an artist in the Khrushchev and Brezhnev years. Characterized by both post-Stalinist «thaw» and later stagnation, Artemiev’s experience in this era is representative of what many Russian artists experienced as they struggled to express themselves.
Yegorova points out that most works about Artemiev have focused on either his film work or electronic music. And the author’s stated intention is, to combine the two key components of Artemiev’s creativity into a single wholesome entity, and while studying the life of the composer and his musical pieces, try and produce a multidimensional portrait of a musician who is perceptive both to new discoveries in contemporary art, and is able to delicately preserve the classical heritage of the previous generations.
We learn how as a young man Artemiev’s uncle was the first to notice his talents. He received a good education and encouragement while enrolled in a 10 year course at the Choir School for boys, and after that enrolled in the department of theory and composition at the Moscow State Conservatoire. Yegorova goes into detail about the conflicting nature of Russian culture at this time, struggling with cracking open the iron curtain to Western countries, exposing Russian artists to this new world, yet censorship remained and much was still closed to the public. Yegorova describes life for Artemiev at the Conservatory, some of his experiences being typical of any student in higher education struggling with pressures to conform (sometimes a necessity to secure stipends) vs. following their own muse. She also discusses the compositions he submitted in this period, and opposition that he, and other students, faced from professors in the department of composition, particularly political-ideological obstacles they had to contend with.
Intolerance of some of the Conservatory professors to the growing dissent of some students was followed by repercussions against the disobedient and demonstrations of a rigid and dogmatic stand with regard to new trends in the composition techniques of the second half of the 20th century. At the same time, there were progressive minded people at the Conservatory with advanced views on art, and differences in views would actually lead to internal conflicts within the Conservatory.
Chapter III is where the book starts to get especially interesting. Yegorova gives a good history of the ANS synthesizer and the development of electronic music in Russia, and we learn how the peculiarities of Russian-Soviet politics and culture left an opening for artists interested in electronic music.
In the 1950s and 60s party bureaucrats went on a cultural crusade against what they called «trends generated by the agonizing capitalist system». Electronic music, however, seem to be somewhat spared, «since there were no normal conditions whatsoever in Russia for its development, and the minimum that had been created by the efforts of some enthusiasts happened to fall out of the focus of attention of the bureaucrats in the artistic sphere. Carried away by the struggle with postmodernism, at a certain moment they just lost sight of electronic music, which made it possible to first organize a laboratory, and later, in 1967 an Electronic Music Studio on the premises of the museum-apartment of A. Skriabin.
However, this proved to have its own set of challenges, because, as Yegorova explains, electronic music was denied the right to be regarded as art, which had a negative effect on its development. Yegorova goes into detail to describe the opportunities that lead to the many film scores Artemiev would compose, as well as theater work that brought him attention. Also, and among some of the more enlightening parts of the story, are the descriptions of Artemiev’s experiments with new compositional techniques — his work with sound, magnetic tape and electronic equipment. Another interesting milestone is what Yegorova describes as Artemiev’s pivotal discovery of pop music in 1969. And by „pop music“ she is referring to such music as „King Crimson“, Klaus Schulze, „Ash Ra Tempel“, „Tangerine Dream“, „Kraftwerk“, „Pink Floyd“, „Emerson Lake & Palmer“, and Vangelis. And recalling the recordings I have from the „Electroshock“ label its clear how the influence of Rock music and the Progressive rock of the late 60s and early 70s has impacted his work.
Over 40 years Edward Artemiev has score approximately 150 films and worked with a variety of directors, though globally he is probably best known for his work with Tarkovsky. He also wrote the opening and closing ceremony music for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, which seems quite an achievement given Yegorova’s insistence that he is relatively unknown in his own country. I was surprised to read that Artemiev is better known around the world (he is an honorary citizen of Baltimore, Maryland) then he is in Russia.
Unfortunately, the electronic composition „The Three View of the Revolution“ by Edward Artemiev that gained wide popularity and was frequently performed in the West, remained quite unaccountably in oblivion in the composer’s Motherland and was a terra incognita for the audience. That actually meant that, on the one hand, both the authorities and the heads of the Composers' Union, and the critics would unconditionally recognize him as one of the best composers of the Soviet Union, and on the other would keep demonstrating their absolute indifference to his work, which with the passing years was becoming more diverse and profound with regard to the creative concept, and the original electroacoustic means of expression. Furthermore, we read that…
In 1999, he was awarded an honorary title of the People’s Artist of the Russian Federation, was granted the title of the laureate of the OPTIMA prize (The Art of Unificiation of a Human Being and Information), got three „Nike“ cinema awards in the best music nomination, and, finally, at the opening of the XXIII Moscow International Cinema Festival he was awarded for the first time in history of the MICF the prize of Saint George for the significant contribution to the world cinematograph.
Much of the later part of the book finds Yegorova steeped in detailed analysis of Artemiev’s work, which the reader interested in biography and cultural history might find tiresome. Case in point is the final chapter of the book, The Opera, which details this recently released 2-CD set, an ambitious Artemiev work based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel „Crime and Punishment“. Still, I found the book to be a fascinating read, and easily skimmed over the academic analysis to get back to the biographical and cultural historical parts of the story.
Jerry Kranitz („Aural Innovations“)
This biography of Russian composer and electro-acoustic pioneer Edward Artemiev acts as a welcome introduction to the work of a musician who has explored and pushed forward the barriers of musical exploration. Set amidst a backdrop of Soviet Russia and its political and artistic repression, the composer studied classical music at state conservatories but his eagerness to discover new forms of music and ways to express them pushed him towards a new invention, the synthesiser. This book charts Edward Artemiev’s life and struggles to achieve success both as a composer and explorer of the new musical dynamics that arrived in the 1960s. It is not often that those on the cutting edge of music also find artistic and commercial success, but this has happened to Artemiev, thanks to a move into writing soundtrack scores for Russian movies such as »Solaris», «Stalker» and many other important movies, plus groundbreaking work for the Russian theatre. The success of this led him to being invited to Hollywood where he has provided scores for several movies and TV movies. Alongside this strand of his musical career, Artemiev has also explored what the synthesiser and the modern recording studio can create, creating a body of work that is highly experimental and yet still approachable. The book ends with a description of Artemiev’s lifelong desire to turn the famous Russian novel «Crime and Punishment» by F. M. Dostoyevsky into an opera.
The «Musical Universe» is profusely illustrated with photographs, reviews of Artemiev’s recorded releases, and a whole section of musical examples in the form of reprints from his scores for those who can read musical notation. The reader should be advised that this book is written for the academic musician and even in this English translation it is couched in the language of academia rather than conventional English. For a non-musician like myself it was not an «easy» read, but anyone interested in how modern contemporary and experimental music has developed in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia, and in particular Edward Artemiev, then it is an invaluable reference source.
Accompanying this book was a double CD set recording of the above mentioned «Crime and Punishment» opera — the music was composed by Edward Artemiev, with lyrics by A. Konchalovsky, M. Rozovsky and J. Ryashentsev. I’ve never read the source book for this opera, and as it is sung in Russian I don’t really have a clue what it is all about, but musically it is very interesting indeed. The opera is a melting pot of so many musical styles: from conventional orchestral to prog rock grandeur, electronic atmospherics to Brechtian and Broadway musical theatricality. This continual shift in musical styles certainly makes for stimulating listening, and I can only applaud the cast and musicians involved for a superb performance. Unfortunately, the CD packaging is all in Russian so I can’t mention the musicians and singers by name. I have been told that an English language recording is due sometime during 2010 and I look forward to hearing that in the future.
I’m not sure if the CD set is part of a package with the book or available separately, so if you are interested in either or both items then I suggest you contact Artemiy Artemiev via e-mail for more information availability.
John M. Peters («The Borderland»)
Edward Artemiev, a pioneer of electronic music, not only has limited himself to exploring new paths of musical expression, like other pioneers have done, but also, first and foremost, he is a great artist. With his vast imagination he has broken many frontiers, working with elements from an infinity of genres that once had been considered as impossible to combine, including Classical Music, Space Music, Electroacoustic Music, Rock, World Music, and others. The result of his inspired adventures has been given expression in albums, movie soundtracks and live performances. In his book «Edward Artemiev’s Musical Universe», Tatiana Yegorova, an expert in music and in cinema with numerous works published both inside and outside of Russia, has carried out an excellent task by reviewing and analyzing Artemiev’s career. Available in English, and written in a clear, enjoyable style, the book offers an accurate biographical and musical journey throughout the life of the composer. Yegorova, in contact with Artemiev, has garnered first-hand information from him, and she narrates the most important facts in the life of the composer, also including anecdotes. The photographs shown in the book are likewise very interesting indeed, as they show us not only the artist at work or taking part in public events, but also some family shots or glimpses of his private life, at different stages, which helps us to get to know both the composer and the person, just like so many things that Yegorova explains. It comes very clear then, throughout the book, the fact that Artemiev is not only an artist devoted to his art, but also the fact that he is one of those few lucid geniuses who achieve the materialization of artistic ideas that exceed the limits beyond which almost no one could believe it was possible to arrive.
Jorge Munnshe («Amazing Sounds»)