He threw a chair for Shostakovich

He threw a chair for Shostakovich


norman lebrecht

August 09, 2020

Toccata have an album coming out of music by Herman Galynin:

Galynin (1922–66) was one of the brightest hopes of Russian music, admired by his teachers Shostakovich and Myaskovsky. His early, student compositions brought him swift fame, but a mental collapse confined him to an asylum. Even if the extraordinarily high voltage of his early music isn’t quite maintained in his later works, they still show both fire and finesse. Seen as a whole, the wild, freewheeling energy of his compositions – as witness these five works for strings – leave little doubt that he could have been one of the major musical voices of the second half of the twentieth century; as it is, what he did achieve is remarkable. Yuri Abdokov’s extensive booklet notes are informed by the memories of his own teachers, Boris Tchaikovsky and Nikolai Peyko, who were friends of Galynin’s from boyhood, after he had been rescued from his early life as an orphaned street urchin. Abdokov quotes Rudolf Barshai’s memoirs: ‘Once in the cold, without putting on a coat and hat, he went to Gorky Street, entered the Central Telegraph building, looked around and shouted loudly: “Stalin and Zhdanov are murderers!” He was seized, of course, and then put into a madhouse’. Abdokov mentions another such occasion, at a Party meeting, where the chairman had vilified Shostakovich. Galynin’s response was to defend his teacher – but not with words: he grabbed a chair and rushed at the chairman, before being forcibly restrained. His music is characterised by the same impulsiveness



  • Hal Hobbs says:

    Toccata have an…. *Toccata has

    • John Borstlap says:

      An organisation term which is generally thought to cover a group of people rather than one individual, invites the plural. “The government have…. the police have…. the Idiotic Composers Union have….” etc.

  • Minnesota says:

    Galynin sounds sane enough to me: Sort of like Yossarian, the hero of the great novel Catch-22. Interesting composer, though.

  • esfir ross says:

    Music of German Galynin was very popular in USSR in the 60th. I played his piano pieces, piano trio. Wonderful piano concerto, legend for violin and piano. He commit suicide when his music was published and performed.

  • David says:

    Well, I am now listening to his Suite for Piano. I have a new favorite composer. The music is impetuous, unexpected and really interesting.

  • IP says:

    Being a patient, or rather an inmate, at a Soviet asylum of the period is a first proof of sanity.

  • esfir ross says:

    Galynin wrote wonderful lieds on Herman Heine poetry