Yuri Falik – cellist, composer, conductor and teacher
It happens occasionally that several forms of creativity – as composer, artist and conductor – manifest themselves in one person. People’s Artist of Russia, Professor Yuri Alexandrovich Falik was unique in national and international musical culture. An outstanding composer, a contemporary classic, he showed real ability in everything that he undertook.
Yuri Falik graduated in cello from Leningrad Conservatoire, studying with celebrated teachers and musicians – Alexander Yakovlevich Shtrimer, then Mstitslav Rostropovich, composer Yuri Anatolievich Balkashin and Professor Boris Alexandrovich Arapov. He began his career as a brilliant cellist, with the prospect of a promising solo career (winner of the Helsinki International Cello Competition 1962). Yuri at this point chose the hard road of the composer, which would bring him fame and world-wide recognition.
He worked for over 50 years at the St Petersburg Conservatoire – the master showed himself to be an excellent teacher, of cello, composition, orchestration; he trained a whole generation of gifted musicians and composers. Conducting was another of Yuri Falik’s interests. And here he achieved outstanding results. For several years he conducted the Student Chamber Orchestra of the St Petersburg Conservatoire, and performed with leading symphony orchestras in Russia (in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Rostov, Odessa), also in Chicago, Baltimore etc. As conductor he participated in the second (1997 St Petersburg) and third (2000 Baltimore) World Congress of cellists under the direction of Mstislav Rostropovich. Among the soloists he worked with were such renowned musicians as N. Gutman, E. Virsaladze, A. Shtarkman, S. Stadler, D. Geringas, V. Warner, H. Chang and A. Noras.
Lifelong musicianship and personal friendship linked Yuri Falik to Natalia Gutman, the outstanding Russian cellist. This was reflected in the music that Falik wrote for their joint concert performances, performance which became a token of thanks to their teacher Mstislav Rostropovich. Natalia Gutman gave many performances conducted by Yuri Falik.
In later years, creative cooperation and warm friendship brought links between Yuri Alexandrovich Falik and the renowned choral conductor and People’s Artist of the Russian Federation, Professor of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire Boris Grigorievich Tevlin.
Yuri Falik often served as a judge in various competitions, including the cello section of the XIII Tchaikovsky International Competition in 2007.
His legacy as a master of composition is at the forefront of his work. He was a deep and subtle artist, a great master, wielding all sorts of compositional technique, with a strong sense of identity, he developed the best traditions of music, moving towards something clear, natural, simple and at the same time meaningful. He sought new language as a composer, with flair but always based on impeccable taste, concision, integrity and depth.
Among the composer’s most significant works is the comic opera ‘Scarpan’s tricks’, the choreographic tragedy ‘The Oresteia’, the ‘Light Symphony’ for orchestra, a Concerto No 1 for orchestra based on the legend of Till Eulenspiegel, a Concerto No 2 for orchestra ‘Symphonic Etudes’, Concerto for brass and percussion entitled ‘Buffoons’, eight string quartets, Concerto della Passione for cello and orchestra, Symphony No 2 ‘Kaddish’, a Mass for soloists, choir and orchestra. Yuri Falik’s choral music occupies a special place in his work. He was the author of a choral concert ‘The Poetry of Igor Severianin’; ‘Liturgical Chants’ for soloists and choir singing a capella, based on texts from the breviary; ‘Elegy’, a concerto for soprano solo and chorus singing a capella; Concertos for Choir (settings of poems by Marina Tsvetaeva, Boris Pasternak, Alexander Pushkin, Anna Akhmatova and Nikolai Gumilev); ‘Book of Songs’ (from European poets of the XIth–XVIIth Centuries); ‘Prayer for Russia’, text by Alexander Solzhenitsyn; ‘Canons for Choir’, settings of verses by foreign poets. ‘Stranger’, with words by Alexander Blok, has become a favourite of many choirs.
Traits of Yuri Falik’s music include ease and flexibility of musical thought, spirituality, dynamic themes, theatricality, witty and spectacular orchestration. Brilliance of concept, convincing solutions, exciting musical development, beauty of sound – all of these are reflected in the work of a master of ingenuity, strict inner discipline and the highest compositional skill.
Re-known artist of Russia, Composer, International cello performers Contest laureate (awarded the golden medal for the year 1992, Helsinki), Conductor, Yuri Aleksandrovich was born in 1936 in Odessa and got his musical formation in the famous P. Stolyarovsky musical school, afterwards, in Leningrad Conservatory where he studied two specialties: (1) cello play with professor A. Shtrimer, first, and then while on his post-graduate studies - with professor M. Rostropovich; (2) to be a composer, at a class of professor B. Arapov. Today Y.A.Falik is himself a professor of the St. Petersburg Conservatory of N.A.Rimsky-Korsakov, of the composition and instrumentalist class, his career there has been more than 40 years on; in addition he is a professor of the Nizhegorod State Conservatory of M.I. Glinka. Among his students in "the Falik composition class" the ten are the members of the St. Petersburg Union of Composers (he is the member also). The graduates of his instrumentalist class are world-known conductors - V. Gergiyev, A. Chistyakov, E. Tsirlin, P. Lilye, I. Kozhukharov. Falik's work also includes-puff-opera "The pranks of Skapen" (after J.-B. Moliere), choreographic Tragedy "Orestea" (after Eschil), Light Symphony for an orchestra, Symphony for a string orchestra with percussions, First Orchestra Concert (after the legends on Til Ulengshpigel), Second Orchestra Concert - "Symphonic Etudes", Chamber Concert for Three Flutes and A String Orchestra, Concert for Violin and Orchestra, Concerto della Passione for cello and a symphony orchestra, "Requiem upon I. Stravinsky" ("Eulogy Music" for 4 trombones and the 16 strings), Concerts for "a cappella" choirs (on the verses of I. Severyanin, B. Pasternak, M. Tsvetaeva, A. Pushkin), Concert for brass and percussions "Skomorokhi", eight String Quartets, Quintet for Brass, Choir and Vocal Cycles. Among his very last big compositions are liturgy songs for solos and "a cappella" choir on psalms' texts (1992), Symphony #2 ("Cadish", 1993), Mass for solos, choir and a chamber orchestra (1996), "Elegies" - concert for soling soprano and "a cappella" choir on the verses of A. Akhmatova and N. Gumelev (2001), the Eighth Quartet (2001).
Yuri Falik compositions are widely performed and edited not only in Russia but in many foreign countries as well. In 1990 the symphony orchestra of Сhicago together with the Chicago Children's Choir staged Falik's premier of "Pollie and Dinozaurs", fairy-tale. The conductor was Yuri Falik himself.
In March of 1999 in Youngstown, in the Ohio state Saint-John Episcopal Cathedral, American premier of the Mass for solos, choir and a chamber orchestra under his own direction took place. Falik's many chamber and choir works has been performed both by European and American ensembles and choir groups. The composer's symphony work such famous conductors as -- E. Svetlanov, G. Rozhdestvensky, M. Yansons, V. Gergiyev, A. Dmitriyev, V. Yampolsky (USA), Mario di Bonaventura (USA), S. Edwards (Breat Britan) -- perform.
The composing work and pedagogy Falik successfully combines with conductor's activities in different cities of Russia and abroad. Besides his performances for the orchestras of various Russian cities during the 1991 - 1992 season, the composer worked as invited professor for the North-West University of Evanstown (IL, USA). In May of 2000 he conducted the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra during the concerts at the Third World Congress of Cello Players; the solos were the world leading performers.
Equal in professionalism is the performance of an orchestra under his direction of classics repertoire compositions - of the works of Haidne, Mozart, Brahms, Chaikovsky, Prokofeyev, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, as well as of the 20th century music, composed of St. Petersburg modern authors- Berg, Lutoslavsky, Basner, Grinblat, Eshpai, B. Chaikovsky, P. Chaikovsky, and Falik's own works. Among the solos having performed with Falik are such outstanding musicians as N. Gutman, E. Virsaladze, A. Shtarkman, S. Stadler, D. Geringas (Germany), M. Alaverdyan, V. Vorner, KH. Chang (USA), A. Noras (Finland).
In 1999 Y.A. Falik was awarded Pushkin Golden Medal for his contribution to the dead of maintenance and enrichment of national cultural traditions.