Nikolai Sidelnikov

I've created other world in mind
And other images have dropped into existence…
Mikhail Lermontov

Nikolai Sidelnikov (1930-1992) – an outstanding Russian composer, with honorary titles – Honored  Artist and People's Artist of  Russia, the winner of the Glinka State Prize, professor of the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory.

The name of Nikolai Sidelnikov is included into the Golden Fund of Russian musical culture of the second half of the XX century. The composer left a significant musical legacy, covering almost all musical genres. His works include chamber, instrumental, vocal and choral music; symphonies, oratorios, 3 operas and a ballet. Sidelnikov was also the author of music for several theatrical performances, radio and television productions; more than 35 films, including Zastava Ilyicha / The Ilyich Checkpoint (dir. M. Khutsiev, 1965), Tri Tolstyaka / Three Fat Men (dir. A. Batalov, 1966), Nos / The Nose (dir. R. Bykov, 1977). In some of his works he acted not only as a composer, but also as a librettist.

The most important thing in his work Sidelnikov considered to be deep ties with national culture, and in this regard Stravinsky was an example for him: "It was he who taught me to treat the folklore from the depths, from deep inside...". Sidelnikov also relied on the traditions laid down by Mikhail Glinka, Modest Mussorgsky, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff, but created his own, original and unique idiostyle.

Many of the composer's works are addressed to various layers of Russian folklore. For some works he took historical events of his motherland as a basis, but also involved the cultural heritage of other peoples, using the latest and modern means of composition. "It is not by chance that I turn to different languages, to the folklore of different nations. According to my favorite philosopher Plato, the truly national is at the same time universal, and therefore I want to show everyone with my modest efforts that in our troubled age there are still far more things that unite people than divide them," Nikolai Sidelnikov wrote.

In the composer's works polystylistics prevails, in which traditions of Russian Orthodox music, the heritage of Russian and foreign classics, elements of jazz, rock and other stylistic trends including symbolism, impressionism, futurism, surrealism and postmodernism are combined.

The composer was distinguished by his fundamental erudition, phenomenal memory, and deep knowledge of Russian and world literature. In his work he referred to Leskov, Bulgakov and Aksakov; Lermontov, Khlebnikov and Blok, texts of the Holy Scripture, poetry of Ovid, Garcia Lorca and Du Fu, as well as аncient Russian chronicles of the XII-XVI centuries and Hebrew folk poetry.

Sidelnikov was particularly interested in painting, he himself was a talented graphic artist. Parallels with fine art can be traced in the ideas, titles and compositional structure of his works: Romantic Symphony-Divertimento in four portraits, sonata for violin and piano Slavic triptych, Labyrinths – a novel-symphony in five frescoes for piano, etc.

His love for painting and theater allowed him to create conceptual works that synthesize different types of art, contain an original plot idea, a vivid code or program, which the composer considered extremely important. Sidelnikov said that any music is always program. From the priority of "program" idea follows the composer's special attention to the word, to vocal-choral and synthetic genres: two of his symphonies, created in the 1960s, include chorus, soloists, reciter and bear the imprint of oratorio, like some other his works.

Sidelnikov's music is incredibly recognizable. The thematic of his works is bright, aphoristic, pictorial. According to the researchers of his work, already in his early opuses the composer uses the leitmotif-trichord, which eventually acquires the meaning of "the author’s mask " and in the later opuses becomes his special signature line (motif-monogram H-D-E: C-(H)-d-(D)-e-(E)-lnikov).

During his lifetime, Nikolai Sidelnikov’s works were performed by outstanding musicians and conductors of the XX century: N. Shakhovskaya, M. Pekarsky, V. Kraynev, G. Kremer, N. Gabunia, S. Yakovenko, G. Rozhdestvensky, K. Kondrashin, D. Kakhidze, V. Polyansky, V. Chernushenko and others.

Sidelnikov’s music sounded with great success in Europe, Asia and America. The concert for twelve soloists Russian tales was among the top ten compositions of the World Concert Season 1970/71 at the UNESCO’s International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) in Paris.

The last performances of Sidelnikov's compositions when he was still alive were successfully held in New York, at some of them the composer was personally present. In March 1990 at Merkin Concert Hall the chamber symphony Duels was performed, and in February 1991 – vocal and instrumental symphony on poem of  Mikhail Lermontov Rebellious World of the Poet. In 1991, Sacred Concert for a cappella choir conducted by Andrew Goodman premiered in Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.

The world of themes and images covered by Sidelnikov's work is a whole universe: the composer was thrilled by the transience of time, the uniqueness of each moment; loneliness, the insecurity of beauty, as well as the comprehension of the mysteries of the universe, life and death... Striking in his portrait as a creator is the widest coverage of the world and culture as a kind of unity.

Composer Nikolai Sidelnikov has always followed the way   -   artist–time–culture–world...

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