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Valentyn Silvestrov at the
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich,


Already fed up with Mozart Year (like me and so many other Mozart addicts)? Why not try some Silvestrov? Just listen to The Herald, a short piece for strings and piano. It is like hearing a chamber orchestra playing Mozart al fresco, at the border of a calm lake, while you are sitting in a little boat, the full moon glistening, seagrass weeping in the light breeze that blows over Mozart's wonderful sounds.

Want some more elements of well-known composers? Perhaps Schubert or Wagner? In his Two Dialogues with Epilogue Silvestrov evokes both. Be it Mozart, Schubert or Wagner, you always have the impression of recognizing something of the great old masters in his music. But in the next second the theme is broken, and Silvestrov leads you in an unsuspected direction. A very interesting contemporary composer indeed!

Who is this man playing so virtuously with epoques, styles, and, at least, listening habits?

Valentyn Vasilyevich Silvestrov (born 1937 in Kyiv, Ukraine) began studying music at the age of fifteen, but then decided to become something more normal, like a construction engineer. But in 1958 his real determination brought him back to music. Studying piano, counterpoint, and harmony at the National Music Academy of the Ukraine gave him the tools for his further work. He went on to teach music theory at various schools in Ukraine and started composing. Now he is, as his collegue Arvo Pärt said in an interview with The New Yorker, 'one of the greatest composers of our time'.

The Museum of Modern Art, Munich. Photo © 2006 Sissy von Kotzebue
The Museum of Modern Art, Munich. Photo © 2006 Sissy von Kotzebue

At the concert in his honor on 11 February 2006, the great composer is so humble and shy that nobody identifies him as the star of the evening. None of the elegant guests takes a second look at the elderly slim man with huge amber glasses and grey jumper who seems a bit lost in the crowd. In Munich's latest pride, the Pinakothek der Moderne (Museum for Modern Art), they have established a series named 'Night Music' (no Mozart, promised) using the rotunda of the museum as concert hall. It is an elegant setting for elegant conoisseurs d'art.

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Copyright © 27 February 2006 Sissy von Kotzebue, Munich, Germany


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