Silvestrov Valentin


Silvestrov’s works include nine symphonies, works for chorus, chamber ensembles, works for piano, songs. Today, he is the best-known and most recognised Ukrainian composer.

VALENTIN SILVESTROV (b. 1937, Kyiv) graduated from the Kyiv Institute of Civil Engineering in 1955, while in 1958-64 he studied composition with Boris Lyatoshynsky and harmony and counterpoint with Levko Revutsky at the Kyiv Conservatory of Music. He was a central figure in the Kyiv musical avant-garde in the 1960s. He made his debut in 1961 at a “plenum” of young Ukrainian composers, where his first major work, Piano Quintet, caused a kind of sensation. In his first period, he took over the twelve-tone technique from Schönberg and Webern.

Works written using this technique were the cause of bitter disputes during their premieres, and as a result Silvestrov, like other composers of the Kyiv avant-garde, remained on censorship for a long time. During this time he was expelled from the Composers’ Union. In 1966, he receives a commission from the Kusevitsky Music Foundation. A piece called Eschatophonia (1966) is written, which is premiered in Darmstadt in 1968, conducted by Bruno Maderny. The first period of his work culminates in the three-movement work Drama (1972), the first movement of which is a violin sonata, the second a cello sonata and the third a trio. This work is considered the most important work of the composer’s first period. Here there is a radical turn towards diatonic, where Sylvestrov, referring to the genres and stylistic norms of the 17th-19th centuries, finds a very personal form of expression, in his own way approaching minimalism. The year 1973 brought a whole series of works written in the “old style.” This style reaches maturity in String Quartet No. 1 (1974). This was followed by Symphony No. 4 for brass and strings(1976), Serenade for strings (1978), Symphony No. 5 (1980-82), Widmung, concerto for violin and orchestra (1991-92), Metamusic for piano and orchestra (1992), Elegy to the poetry of T. Shevchenko for mixed choir a cappella (1996) and others. Metamusic was premiered in Berlin with Alexei Lubimov and the Berlin Radio Orchestra conducted by Arturo Tamayo. Silvestrov’s works include nine symphonies, works for choir, chamber ensembles, works for piano, songs, and a “Requiem for Larissa” dedicated to the memory of the composer’s wife.

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