GEORGY VASIL'YEVICH SVIRIDOV (1915 - 1998)
Georgy Vasil’yevich Sviridov was born in Kursk Oblast, about one hundred miles from the Russian border with Ukraine, in 1915. Following early musical training at the music school in Kursk, he moved to St Petersburg (then Leningrad) to study at the city’s Central Music Tekhnikum from 1932–1936. In 1935, he scored his first success with a cycle of songs to texts by Aleksandr Pushkin: his settings, lyrical and simple in their harmonies and texture, gave them a freshness that was to become characteristic of Sviridov’s approach.
The following year, Sviridov entered the Leningrad Conservatory, where his teachers included Dmitry Shostakovich. He continued his studies there until 1941, and Shostakovich’s compositional approach was to leave a significant imprint on his young student’s works of the 1940s. In 1956, Sviridov moved to Moscow, where he remained until his death in 1998. He was to become a celebrated figure of the Soviet regime, and among the various honours bestowed upon him were the Lenin Prize, and the titles of National Artist of the Soviet Union and Hero of Socialist Labour. He was also a committee member of the Composers’ Union from 1962–1974, acting as its head from 1968–1973, having taken over this leading role from Shostakovich.
A prolific composer—his output includes film scores, incidental music, symphonic suites, and other instrumental works—Sviridov is particularly important as a composer of vocal music. In addition to several thousand songs, he wrote many choral works for both small ensembles and large-scale forces.