For May 2018, some of us contributing to #ClassicsaDay decided to mark May Day. Reason enough to post works by Soviet composers. I decided to go a little farther with my #SovietaDay posts and concentrate on Soviet prize winners.

Here are the posts I shared for week 3.

Gara Garayev (1918-1982) Leyli and Majnun, symphonic poem

Garayev was one of Azerbaijan’s most prominent composers. He held several key music-related government positions, eventually becoming a member of the Supreme Soviet. His tone poem “Leyli and Majnun” was based on a 12th Century poem by Nizami Ganjavi. It won the Stalin Prize in 1948.

 

Fikret Amirov (1922-1984) Symphonic Mughams

Amirov was Azerbaijani and used its folk music extensively in his compositions. A mugham is one such tradition. It’s an improvised piece based on a highly codified collection of melodies, motifs, and modes. Amirov’s symphonic version of this form won the Stalin Prize in 1949.

 

Reinhold Glière (1875-1956) String Quartet No. 4

Glières was a prominent composer both before and after the Revolution. He avoided politics and survived both the 1936 and 1948 ideological purges that ensnared many other composers. His fourth string quartet won the Stalin Prize in 1948. He was 73 at the time and considered something of a national treasure.

 

Otar Taktakishvili (1924-1989) Symphony No. 1 in A minor “Youth Symphony”

The Georgian-born Taktakishvili studied with Shostakovich, and they became life-long friends. Taktakishvili composed the Anthem for the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. His catalog includes operas and film scores, as well as concert works. His first symphony won the Stalin Prize in 1949.

 

Dmitri Kabalevsky (1900-1987) String Quartet No. 2

In the West, Kabelevsky’s a one-hit wonder (Comedian’s Galop), In the USSR, he was a major figure. He helped establish the Union of Soviet Composers and was at the forefront of children’s music education. He wrote over 100 works, including four symphonies, and seven concertos. The second of his two string quartets won the Stalin Prize in 1946.