- Gerard McBurney
(b Tashkent, May 28, 1934). Russian composer. Born to Russian-speaking parents of partly Polish-Jewish extraction, he studied the violin and composition at the Tashkent Conservatory, graduating in 1957 and 1959 respectively. He pursued a career as a violinist for a while: firstly in the Uzbek State SO (from 1954) and later as a member of the Uzbek Radio String Quartet. In 1961 he was appointed to teach at the Tashkent Conservatory and subsequently became professor of composition there. His works immediately suggest that he is a composer of Western sympathies – he has written symphonies, string quartets, set Latin texts from the Catholic tradition and written an opera after Anouilh. But given that he has spent his life in Asia, this alliance is in fact unusual and not typical of his background. Although Western music exerted a strong appeal on Soviet composers during the period during his younger years, Yanov-Yanovsky was doubly isolated by his existence in the then musically provincial Tashkent. His creative reaction to this political and geographical isolation was not protest but a patient construction of very personal musical bridges which reach out towards the European and even Russian traditions to which he felt closest and from which he might otherwise be separated. The result is a language of subtle culture and emotional generosity, in which surface modesty and reticence mask impressive strength and commitment of utterance. His particularly muscular and passionate string writing reflects his experience of playing the symphonic and chamber music of the Austro-Germanic tradition. It would, however, be wrong to suggest that he has ignored the Asiatic traditions which surround him: he has set texts by Asian writers and, more importantly and generally, he has brought an Eastern perspective to his forays into the Western mind....