The following essay was originally published in the November/December 2004 edition of Accordion World magazine (editor: David Keen).
This essay was written by Friedrich Lips with a Forward written by David Keen. This work is presented here by the permission of Accordion World.
(See our review of Accordion World Magazine) .
We hope that the publication of a translation of Friedrich Lips's monograph on Solotaryov in two instalments has enabled readers to gain a greater understanding of the man and his music. Solotaryov in the 1960's and early 1970's changed the direction of musical composition for the accordion in the old Soviet Union. Only perhaps Mogens Elegaard in the west produced anything like the same radical effect and then in a very different way.
In Russia this was not done without controversy as Lips explains in this Postscript. Lips' original manuscript for this article was written soon after Solotaryov's death but not published for some years. This final story of the monograph's publication demonstrates how the world over the accordion has moved forward in the classical field through controversy.
The story in this Postscript shows also how difficult it was in the old Soviet Union to get work published if it was not approved of by Party members. Lips was obviously not a Party member. The principal villain of Lips' story is Akimov, who used the rivalry between Nicholai Tchaikin and Solotaryov to thwart publication. Akimov was a Principal of the Gnessin Institute and a secretary of the Composer's Union with, according to Lips, no other musical qualifications than Party membership! Many readers of ACCORDION WORLD will know that Tchaikin (a former Vice-President of the CIA) wrote a considerable amount of music for the accordion and most of his early work in particular was for standard bass. Some of it is well known especially his two concertos for accordion and symphony orchestra and many pieces in the current Schmulling catalogue. He came from Kharkov in the Ukraine and was also a professor at the Onessin Institute in Moscow. He died in Moscow in February 2000 aged 85. The rivalry of which Lips writes in this Postscript needs to be understood in terms of the fact that Tchaikin in the mid 1960's had an established reputation as a composer in his 50's, which came under challenge from Solotaryov as a very young man in his mid 20's with a new approach.
A POSTSCRIPT (2002)
Before you, dear reader, lies the slightly amended fragment of my monograph on 'The Work of Vladislav Solotaryov', which was published in 1984 in volume No 6 'Bayan and Bayan Players' by the Soviet Composer's publishing house. The story of its publication is extremely interesting.
In Vladislav's lifetime I endeavoured to write down various thoughts about his work, arising from our contact. In the 4 years of our friendship I developed an anxiety syndrome about his whereabouts on this sinful earth, however pompous that sounds. He was all too easily vulnerable, a human being without skin, with exposed nerves.
It seemed to me that he was some extraterrestrial creature from the cosmos, who had come to us for a certain mission and, after fulfilling it, would leave us. I constantly had the feeling, and I was afraid to admit it to myself, that I could lose him. The article was finished soon after Solotaryov's death (around 1975/76) and was handed over to J Akimov, the editor of the collection 'Bayan and Bayan Players'. It remained on his file until he also committed suicide in 1979, without anything being done about it. For this reason my relationship with him was not of the best; accordingly, my relations with the principal editor of the publishing house, the composer Pyotr Londonov, who was very close to Akimov, were also strained. Somehow, it happened spontaneously that my relations with Londonov became completely normal after Akimov's death, and even so familiar, that one night my telephone rang:
'Friedrich, take the collection 'Bayan and Bayan Players' into your hands, I suggest that you become the editor.'
'No thank you, Pyotr Petrovich, it is not for me. I would rather handle repertoire volumes. For scientific-methodical volumes B M Yegorov would be a better candidate.'
'No, he could not do it on his own. Do it between the two of you.'
I managed to avoid further pressure from Londonov by proposing S M Kolobkov to strengthen the editorial committee. Londonov was enthusiastic, but immediately voiced some doubts:
'But he will not agree immediately, because he is already very busy as Rector.'I telephoned Yegorov and Kolobkov straight away, apologised for the late call (it was already 12.30 at night, but the opportunity had to be seized quickly to get the benefit of the authority of the principal editor), to explain the nature of the urgent problem and, as I expected, received both support and understanding. Then I informed Londonov by another telephone call the same night.
Of course, before long I was interested in the fate of my article on Solotaryov, Londonov revealed to me the editorial 'secret'. If an editor does not want to publish an article, he sends it to an anonymous referee (behind closed doors), who as a rule is critical.
'Akimov did not want to publish your article and forwarded it to Nicholai Tchaikin for review. That is why he has kept it so long. Ring him and ask him to hurry.'
The situation was finally cleared up. The fact that Akimov didn't want me was obvious, and I had known this for a long time, but he couldn't stand Solotaryov because of his outstanding, but for him incomprehensible, music. I remember that he did not congratulate us after the premiere of the third Sonata, but the next day we happened to meet in the corridor of the Institute, where he reluctantly shook my hand:
'Now, I congratulate you on yesterday, but I did not like the music at all."And so the Deputy Head of Faculty ended our brief dialogue as only he could. Akimov had given my article to Tchaikin for review and knowing very well the jealousy of the acknowledged master of bayan music towards Solotaryov, he thus achieved his goal and washed his hands of it.
'Perhaps you didn't understand it, hearing it for the first time?' I said, trying to mitigate his obviously badly informed judgement.
'No, it is precisely because I have understood it that I don't like it at all.'
I had to ring Tchaikin several times before he finally submitted his review to the publisher. The review was typed on 16 pages. The review was scathing, beginning with an epigraph, which I must take from this publication: 'The poet has no career, the poet has a destiny!' I find that these words by the poet Aleksandr Blok get closest to Vladislav's nature. 'Why?'asked Tchaikin indignantly. 'Solotaryov is a Soviet poet!' That means a Soviet poet has no career! That means a Soviet poet has a destiny! (The word Soviet was written in red letters each time, in a spirit of high ideology and Party.) I do not think that these critical remarks were directed at me personally. I am convinced that Tchaikin was fully aware of what talent Vladislav Solotaryov had in the field of the bayan. Through my article, where I naturally gave free rein to my enthusiasm for a friend, the master, who at that time was an undisputed authority, felt hurt. But it cannot be helped: the turn of the century produces the problem of generational conflict. The approach to it can only be philosophical. The review ended with the following conclusion:
'In its present form the article cannot be recommended for printing. Only after fundamental revision of the material and a further review by another referee with a positive opinion should the article be published.'
Really depressed, I showed Tchaikin's work to Londonov. But the situation had already changed: Londonov was now on my side -- it was one of those rare moments in life, when the wind is not blowing in one's face, but from behind. Artfully, he turned over the pages of the review (he had long anticipated what was in it!), after the last page he covered almost the whole of the last paragraph with his hand and left only the last five words visible:
"These read: 'the article can be published; Agreed? Correct what you think necessary, and we shall publish it in the sixth volume 'Bayan and Bayan Players'."
However, because of all my good will, Tchaikin's pointed arrows also contributed to B Yegorov and A Sudarikov becoming the new editors of the volume.
One must be fair to Tchaikin. His exacting analysis objected to a number of inaccuracies and mistakes, over which a kinder reviewer might have passed lightly, or not even noticed. Therein lies the benefit of a rigorous review.
The German translation of this article came from Dr Herbert Scheibenreif and was authorised by Friedrich Lips. This English translation by Miss Barbara Harrison comes from Dr Scheibenreif's German version with the author's permission.
The help of Mr Artem Vassiliev of the Royal Academy of Music is gratefully acknowledged. Mr Vassiliev read both the Russian original and the draft of the English version and made a number of suggestions for improvement.
(copyright) Accordion World 2004
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