Tragic death of Schnittke’s son, 55

Tragic death of Schnittke’s son, 55


norman lebrecht

June 05, 2020

The composer and photographer Andrei Schnittke has died suddenly in Hamburg, reportedly of a heart attack.

He migrated with his parents to Germany in 1991 and worked with his father Alfred on film music and the opera, Faust. Later, he focussed on photography and had exhibitions of his work in several countries. He leaves a child and a grandchild.

Alfred Schnittke’s music needs to be heard a lot more.



  • batonbaton says:

    Agreed – Alfred Schnittke’s music is perfect for these distracted times, yet totally life affirming. RIP Andrei.

  • Lena Vieru Conta says:

    So sorry! I knew Alfred and Irina, as they were friends with my parents, Nina and Anatol Vieru.

    My deepest sympathies to Irina.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Alfred Schnittke’s “Faust” opera had an unusual genesis, stemming from his love of Thomas Mann’s great musical novel “Doktor Faustus”, in which the fictitional composer Adrian Leverkuehn ‘s imaginary composition “The Lamentation of Dr. Faustus” is minutely described. Other interested readers besides Schnittke have been Bruno Walter, Hermann Hesse, Wilhelm Furtwaengler, Heinrich Mann, Theodor Weiss-Adorno, Clifton Fadiman, Arnold Schoenberg, and Alan Gilbert.

    Schnittke found it intolerable that this music did not actually exist, so he wrote it himself, first as the “Faust Cantata”, then expanded and incorporated it into the full opera with his cantata as the second act.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Very interesting story.

      Mann’s book is by itself already something spectacular, with the clear-sighted thesis that musical modernism was a ‘taking-back of Beethoven’s 9th symphony’.

      • Edgar Self says:

        Just so, John. No wondeer Alfred Schnittke was fascinated by Mann’s “Doktor Faustus”almost to the point of obsession. It has echoes of Martin Luther, Nietzsche, Schoenberg (to his bitter and lasting fury), the Pennsylvania cult an its primitive musical notation, and reproduces entire lecture-recitals by the stammering American music master “Wendell Kretschmar” on them, also on “Beethoven and the Fugue”, and why the late sonatas have only two movements, with a profound lecture-performance on Op. 111 that even Furtwaengler found a little excessive, though Bruno Walter was deeply impressed and told Mann so. They were old Munich friends fromc. 1914, Mahler, and the premier of Pfitzner’s opera “Palestrina” that Walter conducted and Mann loved although he later split entirely with Pfitzner.

        There are also specific mentions of Klemperer, tenor Karl Erb(e), with echoes of Arnold Schoenberg (to his fury), and other recognisable persons. It is both exhaustive and inexhaustible. I’ve worn out two copies of it. The depictions of student life at university, and of music-loving Munich ircles, are not the least of its attractions. But, written during WWII, almost in despair, its effect can b crushing. Ars longa, vida brevis.

  • Svetlana & Marc Villeger says:

    Our condolences to Irina Schnittke and her family from Svetlana & Marc in Vancouver

    Our modest contribution back then in 2003 with Yuri Nikolaevsky conducting his ultimate concert.