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Edison Vassilievich Denisov (1929-1996); RUS

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Edison Vassilievich Denisov

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Edison Denisov was born in 1929 in Tomsk, Siberia, where he first studied mathematics at the local university before turning his attention more seriously to music. He entered the Moscow Conservatory, studying composition with Visarion Chabalin, orchestration with Nicolai Rakov, analysis with Viktor Zuckerman, and piano with Vladimir Below; he graduated in 1956. Following a period of intense self-study, Denisov achieved his first public success in 1965, when his vocal-chamber work Le Soleil des Incas was performed by Pierre Boulez' Domaine Musical, conducted by Bruno Moderna.

In the wake of this success, Denisov turned his attention to large-scale works, and received commissions to write several concertos during the 1970s, by such esteemed soloists as flutist Aurèle Nicolet, oboist Heinz Holliger, clarinetist Eduard Brunner, and violinist Gidon Kremer. Among his major compositions written during the 1980s include the opera L'ecume des jours (premiered at the Opéra Comique in Paris, 1986), the ballet La Confession, and the Requiem Mass - a non-religious work, now considered among his masterpieces; these years also saw two important commissions from French sources: the vocal-chamber work Au plus haut des cieux (1986) for the 10th Anniversary of the Ensemble InterContemporain, and his Symphonie (1987) for Daniel Barenboïm and the Orchestre de Paris. His final years, during the 1990s, saw a further development of metaphysical and even religious themes, in works such as his Histoire de la Vie et de la mort de Notre Seigneur Jésus Christ (1992) and Morgentraum (1993).

Parallel to his concert music activities, Denisov also enjoyed a 30-year collaboration with Yuri Lyubimov, director of the Taganka Theater in Moscow, for which he wrote incidental works, as well as film scores for productions in Russia and throughout Europe.

In the years since his death, in Paris, in 1996, Denisov has been widely acknowledged as among the most important leaders of the post-Shostakovich generation in Russia, as well as a vital link between Russian and European composers such as Boulez, Stockhausen, Nono, and others with whom he had contact beginning in the 1950s. His music has been, and continues to be, performed by top orchestras, ensembles, and soloists around the world, including by such esteemed conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Charles Dutoit, Daniel Barenboïm, Neeme Järvi, Pierre Boulez, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, and many others. His music is available on numerous record labels, including Columbia, Bis, and Mélodia, among others; and is published by such esteemed houses as Boosey & Hawkes, Breitkopf & Härtel, G.Schirmer, Universal Edition, and Le Chant du Monde, among others.

Beyond his compositional legacy, Denisov is also valued as being an important teacher in Russia - both at the Moscow Conservatory, where he taught from 1959, and privately. He likewise taught at IRCAM in Paris, and was the Director of Moscow's Association of Contemporary Music from 1990 until his death. In 1986 he was named Officer of the Academy of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture, and received the Grand Prix of the City of Paris in 1993.

Edison Denisov is certainly a major composer of the late 20th century, and we are pleased to feature his music here at the Classical Archives.

Edison Denisov

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Below are works by E.Denisov that every music lover should explore:
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