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Yuri Falik

Yuri Falik

It happens occasionally that several forms of creativity – as composer, artist and conductor – manifest themselves in one person. People’s Artist of Russia, Professor Yuri Alexandrovich Falik was unique in national and international musical culture. An outstanding composer, a contemporary classic, he showed real ability in everything that he undertook.

Yuri Falik graduated in cello from Leningrad Conservatoire, studying with celebrated teachers and musicians – Alexander Yakovlevich Shtrimer, then Mstitslav Rostropovich, composer Yuri Anatolievich Balkashin and Professor Boris Alexandrovich Arapov. He began his career as a brilliant cellist, with the prospect of a promising solo career (winner of the Helsinki International Cello Competition 1962). Yuri at this point chose the hard road of the composer, which would bring him fame and world-wide recognition.

He worked for over 50 years at the St Petersburg Conservatoire – the master showed himself to be an excellent teacher, of cello, composition, orchestration; he trained a whole generation of gifted musicians and composers. Conducting was another of Yuri Falik’s interests. And here he achieved outstanding results. For several years he conducted the Student Chamber Orchestra of the St Petersburg Conservatoire, and performed with leading symphony orchestras in Russia (in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Rostov, Odessa), also in Chicago, Baltimore etc. As conductor he participated in the second (1997 St Petersburg) and third (2000 Baltimore) World Congress of cellists under the direction of Mstislav Rostropovich. Among the soloists he worked with were such renowned musicians as N. Gutman, E. Virsaladze, A. Shtarkman, S. Stadler, D. Geringas, V. Warner, H. Chang and A. Noras.

Lifelong musicianship and personal friendship linked Yuri Falik to Natalia Gutman, the outstanding Russian cellist. This was reflected in the music that Falik wrote for their joint concert performances, performance which became a token of thanks to their teacher Mstislav Rostropovich. Natalia Gutman gave many performances conducted by Yuri Falik.

In later years, creative cooperation and warm friendship brought links between Yuri Alexandrovich Falik and the renowned choral conductor and People’s Artist of the Russian Federation, Professor of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire Boris Grigorievich Tevlin.

Yuri Falik often served as a judge in various competitions, including the cello section of the XIII Tchaikovsky International Competition in 2007.

His legacy as a master of composition is at the forefront of his work. He was a deep and subtle artist, a great master, wielding all sorts of compositional technique, with a strong sense of identity, he developed the best traditions of music, moving towards something clear, natural, simple and at the same time meaningful. He sought new language as a composer, with flair but always based on impeccable taste, concision, integrity and depth.

Among the composer’s most significant works is the comic opera ‘Scarpan’s tricks’, the choreographic tragedy ‘The Oresteia’, the ‘Light Symphony’ for orchestra, a Concerto No 1 for orchestra based on the legend of Till Eulenspiegel, a Concerto No 2 for orchestra ‘Symphonic Etudes’, Concerto for brass and percussion entitled ‘Buffoons’, eight string quartets, Concerto della Passione for cello and orchestra, Symphony No 2 ‘Kaddish’, a Mass for soloists, choir and orchestra. Yuri Falik’s choral music occupies a special place in his work. He was the author of a choral concert ‘The Poetry of Igor Severianin’; ‘Liturgical Chants’ for soloists and choir singing a capella, based on texts from the breviary; ‘Elegy’, a concerto for soprano solo and chorus singing a capella; Concertos for Choir (settings of poems by Marina Tsvetaeva, Boris Pasternak, Alexander Pushkin, Anna Akhmatova and Nikolai Gumilev); ‘Book of Songs’ (from European poets of the XIth–XVIIth Centuries); ‘Prayer for Russia’, text by Alexander Solzhenitsyn; ‘Canons for Choir’, settings of verses by foreign poets. ‘Stranger’, with words by Alexander Blok, has become a favourite of many choirs.

Traits of Yuri Falik’s music include ease and flexibility of musical thought, spirituality, dynamic themes, theatricality, witty and spectacular orchestration. Brilliance of concept, convincing solutions, exciting musical development, beauty of sound – all of these are reflected in the work of a master of ingenuity, strict inner discipline and the highest compositional skill.

Olga Rudneva