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Bizarre Soviet composer has died

June 14, 2016 by norman lebrecht

5 comments.


Oleg Karavaichuk, a Shostakovich student who worked mostly in film because that was all the KGB would allow, has died at 88.

Some considered him a genius and a martyr. He lived with his mother, dressed in beret and galoshes in all weathers and was viewed by the authorities as half-mad.

In public recitals, he would play the piano with a pillow on his head.

His father, chief music editor at Lenfilm, introduced him to the studios and encouraged him to compose.

oleg karavaichuk


Comments (5)

  1. John Borstlap says:

    The 1st video comes across as a faint echo of the Russian 19th century in an age of madness; the 2nd as the expression of being mute in that same age. Tragic…. and very Russian.

  2. David Osborne says:

    More like him please, just what music needs. Maybe sort of a Russian Satie?

    1. Hans-Dieter Glaubke says:

      That elusive element of creativity, which may not be immediately be apparent, or, do I say, understood, is too often summarily dismissed as “bizzare”, to consider Mr. Lebrecht’s quicky description. Long live harmless, yet, intoxicating excentricities! Let’s not summarily dismiss them. Dare we embrace them and be influenced by them? Understanding them is secondary, if not tertiary. Allow the flow.

  3. Steven Holloway says:

    I am not at all inclined to be dismissive of him. There is, I suppose, a substantial element of performance art in the first video. The waltz had me rather captivated. This is a very odd comparison, I freely confess, but what suddenly came into my mind were the ‘fractured lyrics’ of the rather eccentric American actress and singer, Tammy Grimes. That name may not ring a bell with many now, but she was a considerable Broadway and club star in the later 50s and 60s.

  4. Peter Owen says:

    This is an interesting clip from 1960 with him looking more like Quentin Crisp than ever.
    I presume upstairs is decadent and Western whilst downstairs is Soviet and wholesome.
    If any who speaks russian could convey the gist I’d be most grateful.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzWakF4Ql9k


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