Musical Innovator Dies Abroad

Alfred Schnittke, the world-famous Russian composer, died this August in Hamburg of a stroke. Schnittke had been bedridden in recent years after a previous stroke, but nevertheless continued working on his music until his death. Schnittke's music was performed by all the world's great musicians and wrote music in all genres - from chamber music to opera, ballets and symphonic concertos. Like Beethoven, he wrote 9 symphonies. His ballets were staged in Munich and Hamburg. Schnittke, considered here to be a representative of the true Russian intelligentsia, was German by origin; he was born in the town of Engels, not far from Saratov in the then Republic of Volga Germans (see Russian Life, June/July 1998). A stroke of luck allowed his family to avoid the WWII deportation of Volga Germans. Considered a musical innovator, he enjoyed his long-deserved fame in Russia much too late. In Soviet times, many famous musicians were forbidden from playing his music by apparatchiks from different cultural agencies. According to long-standing tradition, Schnittke was buried at Novodevichy monastery in Moscow, among the pantheon of other members of Russia's creative intelligentsia.

Reprinted with permission of Russian Life, October/November, 1998, page 5.


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