Birth: Nov 28, 1943
Genre: Vocal Music, Chamber Music, Music for Keyboard
On the one hand, Russian composer Alexander Knaifel (Knayfel'), who was born in the city of Tashket in Uzbekistan in the autumn of 1943, seems a throwback to an age gone by. In an era during which composers and academic institutions - universities, colleges, and conservatories - are sewn together to a sometimes unhealthy degree, a composer who, like Knaifel, maintains no faculty position, nor even a less formal teaching post, is bound to stand out. But in many significant ways, Knaifel and his music represent modernism of a most uncompromising kind. One can often hear little, sometimes virtually nothing, of the composers that Knaifel himself loves and admires in Knaifel's massive musical essays. The landmarks by which the traditionally-inclined composer orients himself - melody and harmony (whether tonal or atonal) - are essentially absent.
Knaifel was introduced to his profession by his musician parents, both of whom taught at the Leningrad Conservatory. Strict training began at age seven with cello lessons at the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music (an affiliate of the Leningrad Conservatory), and then in 1960 he entered the class of the legendary Rostropovich at the Moscow Conservatory. But a career as a cellist was not in his cards - injury-plagued and frustrated, Knaifel abandoned his cello studies to pursue a course in composition back at the Leningrad Conservatory (1963 - 1967). He has since then worked and lived in that city (now St. Petersburg).
Knaifel is something of a musical metaphysicist, one inclined towards both undefined abstraction and deep spiritual-religious sentiment. (He is a confirmed member of the Russian Orthodox Church.) He reduces music to its most basic building blocks: sound as sound, and for the sake of sound. But basic does not mean short, and Knaifel has written many pieces that last several hours (only one of which, The Canterville Ghost of 1966, is an opera and might thus be expected to be of great size). He does not apply traditional, generic titles (like "symphony" or "quartet") to his pieces, preferring instead either pseudo-descriptive ones, like Bezumie (Madness, 1987), or liturgical ones, like Agnus Dei (also 1987), and he has divided his energy almost equally between instruments and the human voice.
-Blair Johnston (All Music Guide)
Александр Кнайфель родился 28 ноября 1943 года в семье музыкантов. Отец, Арон Иосифович Кнайфель - скрипач, солист, ансамблист. Мать, Муза Вениаминовна Шапиро-Кнайфель, преподавала музыкально-теоретические дисциплины в cредней специальной музыкальной школе при Ленинградской консерватории. Эту же школу по классу виолончели у Эммануила Фишмана закончил в 1961 году закончил Александр Кнайфель. Затем продолжил образование в консерваториях - Московской (1961-63), где учился у Мстислава Ростроповича,и в Ленинградской (1963-67) по классу композиции у Бориса Арапова.
Автор свыше 70 композиций во всех областях музыкального творчества. Премьеры его произведений звучат на крупнейших музыкальных фестивалях в Париже, Лондоне, Амстердаме, Нью-Йорке, Цюрихе, Зальцбурге, Берлине, Франкфурте, Кельне, Маастрихте, Ферраре.
Александр Кнайфель первым из российских музыкантов удостоен международной премии DAAD (Немецкой академической службы обменов). Член Союза композиторов (с 1968) и кинематографистов (с 1987).
Свободный художник, заслуженный деятель искусств России (1996), Александр Кнайфель живет и работает в Санкт-Петербурге.
Написал музыку более чем к 40 художественным и художественно-публицистическим фильмам. Опера "Кентервильское привидение" (1965), балет "Петроградские воробьи" (1967), кантаты, "Агнус Деи" (1985).
Жена - певица Татьяна Мелентьева, дочь Анна, внук Арсений.
Alexander Knaifel was born on 28th November 1943 into a family of musicians. His father, Aron Iossifovich Knaifel, was a violinist and played as a soloist and in ensembles. His mother, Muza Veniaminovna Shapiro-Knaifel, taught theoretical musical subjects in the music school annexed to the Leningrad Academy of Music. Alexander Knaifel also studied there, mastering the cello under Emmanuel Fishman's instruction. He continued his studies at the Moscow Academy of Music (1961 - 1963), where his teacher was Mstislav Rostropovich - another reason why this recording is particularly important for him - and at the Leningrad Academy of Music in Boris Arapov's composition class.
In addition to his more than 70 works in many areas of composition, Knaifel has written music for more than 40 feature films and documentaries. He was the first Russian musician to be awarded the international DAAD prize. A free-lance musician, he holds the title of Honoured Artist of Russia (1996). He lives and works in St Petersburg.