How Eri Klas brought Schnittke back to life

Martin Anderson contributes a splendid story about the Estonian conductor, who died last week.

schnittke

Eri used to tell a wonderful Schnittke story. He was with Alfred and Irina Schnittke at the Kiev Festival when Schnittke had a stroke (perhaps the first one, in 1985 — I’m not sure) — so severe that, although they got him to hospital and he was lying on a stretcher, they couldn’t get any sign of life from him: he was completely paralysed.

Eri leant over him and said: “Khrennikov” — and Schnittke gave a defiant laugh: “Ha!”

 

 

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    • I agree with you. I still have some Soviet-era LPs of his symphonic music I bought in Moscow in the early 1980s. Some of it is indeed very good and certainly deserves not to be entirely forgotten. However that doesn’t alter the fact that, as head of the Union of Soviet Composers he was an enthusiastic party hack and dogs-body who caused great difficulties forf so-called “formalist” composers such as Prokoviev, Shostakovitch and others.

      Hence Schnittke’s derisive laugh.

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