I am quite fond of Lokshin's symphonies and have been wanting to listen to them. I don't know where on earth I put them at the moment, but I realized happily that I had this disc in one of my "unopened/unheard" piles so now I can get my fix, albeit not thoroughly symphonic. I really would have liked to post his symphonies first, as they are his crowning achievements. That said, I'm certain the music here will be of the highest quality, with much to enjoy.
Alexander Lokshin (1920-1987) was born in Biysk (Western Siberia), in Russia. A student of the great Russian composer Nikolai Myaskovsky, Lokshin was highly spoken of by Shostakovich who became a close friend to the composer. Tragically, he was not appreciated in his lifetime due to his lack of compromise with the Soviet regime, whom made his life very difficult. Ungrounded accusations amounted to slander, Lokshin was persecuted by the KGB and his music was being rejected by the censors. For decades, his name was in oblivion both in Russia and in the West. It is a real pleasure that BIS has been recording Lokshin's music; here's hoping it will prove to be a 'complete' survey..of his published works.
I've included the booklet notes which look to have a good biography on this fascinating composer.
Straight from the maestro, here is Alexander Lokshin's autobiography:
I, Alexander Lazarevich Lokshin, was born on September 19, 1920, in the town of Biysk, in the Altay Region. My father, Lazar Zakharovich Lokshin (1880-1943) worked as bookkeeper. My mother, Maria Borisovna Korotkina (1886-1963), worked as obstetrician. I started to study music at the age of 6 (by learning to play the piano). In 1930 our family moved to Novosibirsk. There I studied at a school providing general education along with a musical school. From the age of 10 I participated in the students amateur concerts, city and regional competitions. In 1936 I was sent by the Novosibirsk City Education Department to Moscow to continue my musical education. In the autumn of 1936 I entered professor G. Litinsky's class as a second year student at the musical school affiliated to the Moscow Conservatoire. In the spring of 1937 I was transferred to Professor N. Myaskovsky's class at the Moscow Conservatoire, there again as a second year student. In May of 1941 I was admitted to the Composers Union of the USSR. In June of 1941 I joined the levies of the Krasnopresnensky District of Moscow. A week later the medical commission of the district military commissariat exempted me from military service because of poor health (stomach ulcer and strong myopia). Until the autumn of 1941 I served in the antiaircraft guard on the roof of the Conservatoire hostel, but later I went back to Novosibirsk and joined my parents. In Novosibirsk I went to work at the Chkalov Plant Club as coordinator of amateur musical activities. I organized concerts in clubs and hospitals. In April of 1943, at the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Concert Hall my symphonic poem Wait for Me (based on the poem by K. Simonov) for the first time ever was performed by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under E. Mravinsky. In December I was summoned by the Conservatoire and returned to Moscow. There (in the spring of 1944) I passed the state examinations, receiving the diploma with distinction. From 1945 I taught instrumentation, score reading and musical literature at the Conservatoire.
From the beginning of the 1950's I dedicated my entire work to the composition of music. I worked a lot on music for cinema and radio performances, and wrote music for drama theatres. In the period from 1950 to the present day I wrote 11 symphonies, 3 quintets, several orchestral suites, a number of chamber compositions and cantatas. Most of them were performed in Moscow and Leningrad. The 3rd Symphony was performed in London, the 4th - in Stuttgart, the 5th - in London, New York, and Amsterdam. Record companies in Western Germany released the 4th and 5th Symphonies twice. In Moscow, the label Melodya released records of the 4th, 5th, 7th, 11th Symphonies, and one of The Scenes from Faust – The Songs of Margaret, as well as the suite On the Jungle Path.
March 22, 1982
Of all my work, to my reckoning, the best are all the eleven symphonies, oratorio (or better say, cantata) Mater Dolorosa, Three Scenes from Goethe's Faust, String Quintet, a short comic oratorio Tarakanische, a piece for soprano and chamber orchestra The Art of Poetry. Among the aforementioned compositions I have never heard the 1st, 6th and 8th Symphonies performed, as well as Mater Dolorosa, the oratorio Tarakanische, and the two first pieces from the Three Scenes from Goethe's Faust (written much later then the third one, initially entitled The Songs of Margaret).
October 11, 1986 A. Lokshin
P.S. What made me realize for the first time that I had run out of new musical ideas and sensations was a musical piece called The Art of Poetry (which, nevertheless, I still love). The subsequent creative quest only confirmed the fact. Apparently, I have outlived myself.
P.P.S. When I studied at the Conservatoire I idolized Skryabin, Debussy, Oscar Wild, and many others. At that time I wrote a composition as elaborate, as it was amateurish: 3 pieces for soprano and symphony orchestra based on the verses by Baudelaire. Then there followed a long and serious illness, which ended with the resection of stomach, as well as the resection of my decadent past. The Winter Road provided a decisive impulse. I wrote the Variations for the piano in the style of Shostakovich, then the Clarinet Quintet in two parts: the former piece presenting a paradoxical combination of Shostakovich and Vertinsky, and the latter being influenced by Stravinsky (Dumbarton Oaks). Strange as it might seem, no difference in style could be detected. It was quite professional a piece of work.
I became earnest about writing music since 1957. This time I was strongly influenced by Schubert, Brahms, Berg, Mahler, and the Scene in the Countess's Bedroom . All these, apparently, melted together, and only now I realize, from where what I call my "own style" came. This period ended in 1980.
Let's all get acquainted with this lesser-known Russian composer and his 'lesser-known' works!