Alfred Schnittke's Concerto Grosso no. 1

ISBN : 9780190653729

Peter J. Schmelz
176 Pages
140 x 210 mm
Pub date
Jul 2019
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Concerto Grosso no. 1 is one of Alfred Schnittke's best-known and most compelling works, sounding the surface of late Soviet life while resonating with contemporary compositional currents around the world such as postmodernism. It marked a decisive point in Schnittke's development of the approach he called polystylism, which aimed to contain in a single composition the wide range of contemporary musical styles, including "jazz, pop, rock, or serial music." Thanks to it and his other similar compositions, Schnittke became one of the most-performed and most-recorded living composers at the end of the twentieth century.

Peter J. Schmelz's Alfred Schnittke's Concerto Grosso no. 1 represents the first accessible and comprehensive study of this composition. The novel structure of the book engages with the piece conceptually, historically, musically, and phenomenologically, with the six movements of the composition framing the six chapters. Augmenting and complicating the insights of existing English, Russian, and German publications on the Concerto Grosso no. 1, the book adds new information from underused primary sources, including Schnittke's unpublished correspondence and his many published interviews. It engages further with his sketches for the piece, and with contemporary Soviet musical criticism, resulting in a more objective, historical account of this rich, multifaceted composition, its influences, and its impact on music making in the USSR and worldwide.


About the Companion Website
1. Preludio
2. Toccata
3. Recitativo
4. Cadenza
5. Rondo
6. Postludio
Additional Sources for Reading and Listening

About the author: 

Peter J. Schmelz is Associate Professor of Musicology at Arizona State University, Tempe. A specialist in the music of the USSR, Russia, and Ukraine, he is the author of Such Freedom, If Only Musical: Unofficial Soviet Music during the Thaw (2009). He was a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2017.

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