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Tikhon Khrennikov

Biography

Born: June 10, 1913; Elets, Orlov Province, Russia   Died: August 14, 2007; Moscow, Russia  
Russian composer Tikhon Khrennikov is probably the most controversial figure in the history of Soviet music. In his capacity as Secretary to the Union of Soviet Composers, Khrennikov both denounced and elevated the reputations of his fellow composers, attempting to climb what was apparently a rather slippery slope. As a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and a representative of the Supreme Soviet Council, he was a Soviet Read more insider of a very high magnitude, and, according to Khrennikov, did what he could to satisfy Soviet authorities while privately protecting composers and musicians in whom the Secret Police entertained an interest.

Khrennikov studied composition with Mikhail Gniessen at the Gniessen Academy in Moscow and studied piano with Heinrich Neuhaus; his first major work was his Piano Concerto No. 1 (1932), the first of a cycle of four, the last appearing in 1991. Khrennikov's Symphony No. 1 (1935) gained the notice of conductor Leopold Stokowski and premiered outside Russia; it remains Khrennikov's best-known work in the West. In 1939, Khrennikov premiered the opera Into the Storm, the fruits of a three-year collaboration with producer Nemirovich-Damchenko. The enduring success of this revolutionary-themed, patriotic work established Khrennikov as a major voice in the Soviet socialist realism style as it applied to music. Khrennikov more firmly cemented this reputation with his Song of Moscow written for the film They Met in Moscow (1941), earning Khrennikov his first Stalin Prize; three more would be awarded him in his lifetime. Khrennikov's experience with the intrigues of the Soviet political regime came early; during the "Great Terror" in 1937, two of Khrennikov's brothers were arrested by the Secret Police. While he was miraculously able to save one of them, the other vanished in the Gulag system.

In 1948, Khrennikov was named Secretary to the Union of Soviet Composers under Andrei Zhdanov, the primary instigator of socialist realism under Stalin. With Khrennikov's cooperation, Zhdanov quickly commenced a purge of the Union of Soviet Composers. During this time, Khrennikov denounced both Sergey Prokofiev and Dmitry Shostakovich, among others, for practicing compositional styles linked to anti-revolutionary, formalist concepts derived from Western influence; Khrennikov later stated that he was reading from a prepared speech given to him by the Kremlin. With Zhdanov's sudden and unexpected death later in 1948, the situation gradually cooled, but these days are remembered as the darkest in the lives of both Prokofiev and Shostakovich; biographers of these famous composers have been quick to point to Khrennikov as an adversarial figure in this crisis.

Nevertheless, Khrennikov held onto his position as Secretary to the Union of Soviet Composers until the position was dissolved after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Moreover, a gradual thaw toward musical styles in the Soviet Union arrived somewhat earlier than in other artistic disciplines; in 1962, arch-modernist Igor Stravinsky was invited back to the Soviet Union for his first visit since before the October Revolution, mostly at Khrennikov's behest. Khrennikov also helped establish the careers of high-grade concert virtuosi such as Mstislav Rostropovich and Leonid Kogan. Khrennikov himself enjoyed a very active concert career as a pianist, being named People's Artist of the U.S.S.R. in 1963. In his later music, Khrennikov adopted some measure of the "modernist" techniques he had denounced earlier in his career as composer, though these coalesced rather uncomfortably with the "na_ve optimism" (Grove's) that had characterized his music since the 1930s.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Khrennikov was widely vilified by experts on Soviet music as a kind of pariah, but when pressed about his role in the Zhdanov purges, Khrennikov stated that he had no regrets; he wrote a memoir, That Is How It Was, in 1994 to answer all such questions, supported by state documents. He continued to compose up to about the year 2001, producing at least 10 operas; three symphonies; numerous ballets, concertos, and songs; some chamber music; and 22 film scores, the last genre in which Khrennikov seems to have gathered the most acclaim in his home country. Read less
Browse 1-12 of 12 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Khrennikov: Violin Concertos, Piano Concertos / Vengerov, Kissin, Repin
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9448 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tikhon Khrennikov
    Performer:  Vadim Repin,  Evgeni Kissin,  Maxim Vengerov,  Tikhon Khrennikov
    Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Khrennikov: Symphonies; Concertos / Svetlanov, USSR State Academic Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002086 Release Date: 09/10/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Tikhon Khrennikov
    Performer:  Vadim Repin,  Valetin Feigin,  Mikhail Khomitser,  Tikhon Khrennikov Jr.  ... 
    Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov,  Maxim Shostakovich,  Dmitri Kitayenko
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ussr State Academic Orchestra,  Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Academic Symphony Orchestra Of The Moscow State Philharmonic  ... 
    CD: $44.49
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  • 3.
    60 Jahre Munchner Rundfunkorchester: Great Singers Live
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900309 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Francesco Cilèa,  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Lucia Popp,  Hermann Prey  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ghiaurov,  Kurt Eichhorn,  Georges Prêtre,  Alfredo Antonini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
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  • 4.
    Wartime Music, Vol. 17 / Titov, St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Northern Flowers   Catalog: 99101 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Matvey Blanter,  Vasily Solov'yov-Sedoy,  Tikhon Khrennikov,  Boris Mokrousov  ... 
    Performer:  Boris Pinkhasovich,  Boris Stepanov,  Olga Kondina,  Vitaly Psaryov  ... 
    Conductor:  Alexander Titov
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  • 5.
    Anthology Of Piano Music By Russian And Soviet Composers, Part 1 Vol. 1
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1001963 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nikolay Myaskovsky,  Aram Khachaturian,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Tikhon Khrennikov
    Performer:  Yuri Favorin,  Nikita Mndoyants,  Andrei Korobeinikov,  Jr. Tikhon Khrennikov
    CD: $18.99
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  • 6.
    Great Singers Live - Nicolai Ghiaurov
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900304 Release Date: 05/31/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Georges Bizet,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Mikhail Glinka  ... 
    Performer:  Nicolai Ghiaurov
    Conductor:  Georges Prêtre,  Alfredo Antonini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Chorus,  Munich Radio Orchestra
    CD: $12.99
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  • 7.
    1967 Carnegie Hall Marathon / Rostropovich, Rozhdestvensky, Et Al
    Label: Doremi Records   Catalog: 7974 Release Date: 10/13/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Walter Piston,  Boris Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Glynne Adams,  Itzhak Perlman
    Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky,  Lukas Foss
    On sale! $111.98
    CD: $93.99
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  • 8.
    Russian Settings Of Robert Burns - Shostakovich, Denisov, Levitin, Etc / Savenko, Blok
    Label: Toccata Classics   Catalog: 39 Release Date: 05/12/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gyorgy Sviridov,  Edison Denisov,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Yuri Abramovitch Levitin  ... 
    Performer:  Vassily Savenko,  Alexander Blok
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  • 9.
    Label: Relief Classical   Catalog: 991058 Release Date: 01/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tikhon Khrennikov
    CD: $17.99
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  • 10.
    Daniil Shtoda - Tenor
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3348 Release Date: 09/20/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Alexander Grechaninov,  Antonio Spadavecchia,  Eduard Nápravník  ... 
    Performer:  Daniil Shtoda,  Elena Tsvetkova
    Conductor:  Constantine Orbelian
    CD: $17.99
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  • 11.
    Moscow Nights / Hvorostovsky, Orbelian, Et Al
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3339 Release Date: 03/08/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kiril Molchanov,  Alexandra Pakhmutova,  Konstantin Orbelian,  Arno Babadjanyan  ... 
    Performer:  Dmitri Hvorostovsky
    Conductor:  Constantine Orbelian
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Style of Five,  Moscow Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 12.
    Russian Adagios /Svetlanov, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Ondine   Catalog: 938 Release Date: 02/22/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Glazunov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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