CLoSer You Decide!: Composer Profiles

Still wondering who to vote for? We’ve put together a quick profile for each of our composers in order to help you decide. Whether it’s December or Mozart a la Haydn you prefer, the piece with the most votes WILL be performed at our next CLoSer in February, so have a read, have a listen and choose which piece you’d like to hear performed at Village Underground!

Name: Alfred Schnittke

Birth and death: Born in 1934 and died in 1998 at the age of 63.

Nationality: Russian

Background: The son of a German Jewish journalist, Schnittke was born in the Soviet Union but later moved to Vienna. Stimulated by the cultural landscape of Vienna, Schnittke was inspired by the Mozarts, Schuberts and legends of Vienna’s past, making countless references to German ‘Classical’ composers in his compositions. After moving back to Moscow, he began his career composing film scores but soon developed a distinctive style, away from the cinema. Schnittke’s music was viewed suspiciously by Soviet bureaucracy, who banned some of his compositions. Schnittke struggled with his health later in life, suffering from multiple strokes and was declared clinically dead on several occasions, but recovered and continued to compose.

Breakthrough moment: Schnittke’s ambition was to ‘unify serious music and light music’, which he realised in the late 1960s through the creation of a new style that came to be known as ‘Polystylism’. The idea behind Polystylism was to combine music of various styles, past and present, and is a quirky and prominent feature of much of Schnittke’s music.

CLoSer option 1:

Name: Michael Torke

Age: 51

Nationality: American

Background: Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Torke studied at music college and went on to be a composition student at Yale University. Adopting the ‘post-minimalist’ style, Torke’s music utilises the repetitive structure of minimalism, but brings elements of traditional classical and contemporary pop music into the mix. At 23, he cut short his graduate study to begin his career in New York City where he began a five year collaboration with New York City Ballet. Torke has accepted commissions from Walt Disney, for the Olympics and for numerous ballets throughout his career. In recent years, Torke has composed the rock opera, Pop-pea, which was premiered in Paris.

Breakthrough moment: Torke signed a publishing deal with Boosey and Hawkes (publishers of composers such as Stravinsky and Copland) in his early twenties through which he gained great recognition. He is often celebrated as a pioneer of post-minimalist music.

CLoSer option 2:

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