"Ex oriente...": Ten Composers from the former USSR. Verlag Ernst Kuhn,

Berlin, 2002.




Margarita Katunyan




Vladimir Martynov is a remarkable phenomenon of contemporary culture. The universalism of his artistic thinking is sharply in keeping with the events of the last third of the 20th century, the overtones of which he very sensitively perceives. Not only are the stylistic orientations of his artistic language universal but, more broadly speaking, his fusion of the religious traditions of East and West, of the sacred and the secular, and of professional and folk art is highly organic. His historical and genealogical consciousness is also universal, allowing him to interpret the meanings and linguistic categories of the past, which are equally topical for our own time, like the realities of today. Martynov belongs to a circle of composers who see music as a merging of extra-musical sources, as a path towards what could be defined as a “new syncretism”. He himself embodies the syncretic culture: he is a composer, a pianist, a person of unusual education, particularly in the spheres of literature, art, philosophy, the history of world religions and theology. He teaches, is involved in publishing, and has written several books and a large number of articles[1].

It has now become clear that the twists in the path of Martynov's creative evolution are a logical result of his personality. He began as a representative of the avant-garde, a composer who displayed brilliant individuality, independent ideas and a refined technique. With such radical ideas, however, he very quickly stood out amongst the acknowledged Soviet leaders of this movement - Schnittke, Denisov and Gubaidulina - as an avant-garde ideologist of the next generation. And this is indeed what he became, but in the sphere of underground music. At the same time, he was passionately enthusiastic about folklore, about Eastern cultures, mediaeval music, electronics, the rock aesthetic and, later, minimalism. It was on this general foundation that he built his own method and style which define his up-to-the-minute view of composition.

The formation of Martynov's artistic consciousness was greatly influenced by his teacher Nikolai Sidelnikov, particularly between the ages of 14 and 16. This was the period when he studied most intensively with Sidelnikov, experiencing not only the magical influence of his teacher's personality, his “uniqueness” and his “grandiose hum”, but also the indirect influence of Sidelnikov's circle of acquaintance - people like Heinrich Neuhaus, Valentin Asmus, Boris Pasternak and Andrei Volkonsky. “Sidelnikov was my guru. I had a real teacher. Many people do not know what that is. If I have achieved anything then it is thanks to the fact that I was in a unique position and was given the opportunity to experience true Studentship”[2].

Martynov also names Yury Kholopov, with whom he studied a whole range of theoretical disciplines both at the College and at the Conservatoire, as one of the teachers who played an important role in his formation: “Kholopov had a very strong influence on me even at College [where Martynov studied piano - M. K.]. He taught all of our theoretical disciplines - analysis, harmony, solfeggio - right through to the Conservatoire. It was he who recommended me to study composition, although I was already studying with Sidelnikov at the time. If someone else had taken our theory lessons then I would not have received such a thorough schooling and such a taste for theorizing. I will always be grateful to him”.

As is often the case, the choice of musical reference points occurred spontaneously and intuitively, but surprisingly precisely. For Martynov, the key figure was Igor Stravinsky who opened up both 20th-century music and early European music for him. “Everything began with The rite of spring. I wore this record out - I must have listened to it five hundred times. It seemed to me that of all contemporary composers he was the most intellectually and historically orientated. He is constantly engaged in a dialogue with the past. In every interview - no matter how brief - he always referred to early music. Therefore I considered that I, too, must enter into some kind of dialogue with the past. Later my enthusiasm for Stravinsky burned out, but this idea remained”. Stravinsky's influence was strengthened by the experience of the “magical” moment when the 16-year-old man met the venerable maestro during Stravinsky's visit to the USSR in 1962. “He arrived at the very height of my passion for him. He was a god to me - higher than a god. My father was appointed as his escort which gave me the chance to meet Stravinsky himself. I presented him with archive photographs of his father. For me, it was simply an unforgettable meeting”.

It was from Stravinsky that Martynov inherited an interest in history - in Lully, the English virginalists, John Bull and Gesualdo. “At first it was the extravagant side of early music, such as the chromaticism of Gesualdo, which interested me. But later it was no longer just the chromaticisms”. The direction had been set. Later came Ockeghem, Obrecht, Machaut, Monteverdi, the Notre-Dame school, Leonin, Perotin and other old masters from his father's record collection, Yudina's concert programmes propagandizing contemporary and pre-classical music, the repertoire of Volkonsky's ensemble “Madrigal” and his Suite of Mirrors, and tours by foreign musicians - some performing Renaissance music, others - the works of Boulez and Messiaen. “It was clear that for me only music written in the 20th century or before the 18th century exists”. Looking ahead, we might note that his discovery of 18th and 19th-century music took place much later and from a completely different standpoint. At this time his avant-garde and historical aspirations were equally extreme - far beyond the standards and the worn-out classics; however, they shared a single source and were developed not separately, but in conjunction with one another.

In retrospect it is easy to trace many of the very individual aspects of his work which are clearly being developed today right back to the composer's youth. Everything that grabbed his attention was thoroughly studied and found its own place in his creative space. He still retains that intense interest in folklore which was fostered in his student years. In the words of Martynov himself, the folklore expeditions undertaken in his first years at the Conservatoire to different regions of Russia, to the Northern Caucausus and later to Pamir and the mountains of Tadzhikistan, “changed all my ideas about life, including my whole view of professional music”.

The first fruit of this new-found passion was the diploma work Overture in honour of Sapelkin (1970), dedicated to the Belgorod singer Efim Tarasovich Sapelkin. However, this interest in folk music has left a deep track throughout all his music right up to the present day. The acknowledgement of the priority of the “traditional channels” of art over the tradition of academic composition, which is ever more inclined towards subjective creativity and a crisis of self-expression, was the cardinal source of the study of folklore. Folklore pushed back the boundaries of the usual notions about music.

Academic music - i. e. music belonging to the professional written tradition - seemed just a separate channel, running alongside the mighty and ancient channel of folklore, with an independent structure and a completely different ontological nature. And folklore is not the only other channel: the “youth” culture of the cities and the rock music of the 60s-70s forms another. This “grass roots” culture constantly demonstrates fresh ideas, an informal spirit and permeable boundaries. Rock-culture deals with many of the topical issues in contemporary life, such as the realization of one's roots, demonstrating an openness towards the non-European world and a move towards non-personal, objective thinking. For a young composer who had been introduced to the many temptations of the avant-garde, his own views and alternatives to that avant-garde were also significant. These were formed later, but for the time being... Martynov passionately and creatively passed on his enthusiasm for rock-music to a circle of like-minded individuals. “We were Beatles-maniacs. In 1967 we organized a 'Sergeant Pepper' club with its own coat of arms, flag and other paraphenalia. We had regular meetings and stood ceremonially as our hymn - 'Sergeant Pepper' - was played. It was an artistic and poetic environment. We got together at each other's houses, organized art exhibitions and poetry evenings, wrote verses and published collections ourselves. We listened to records by the Beatles and later Pink Floyd”. The refined young intellectual wrote poetry, drew, played the recorder, and gravitated towards the avant-garde in his own compositions. But his most tender attachments were to the English Renaissance, John Dowland and the Beatles.

The compositions from the late 60s and early 70s belong to the avant-garde aesthetic. Even in his student years Martynov had written several works intended “not for the Conservatoire but for myself”, although he did show them to Sidelnikov nevertheless. The five-movement Quartet (1966) which Martynov wrote at the end of his first year is one such work. This piece, which at the time caused a lot of noise, is least like a student composition. It is clear from the fluent and confident way in which the 20-year-old composer controls the contemporary musical language - particularly the twelve-tone material - and works with historical idioms that he had long since crossed the line of purely intuitive construction: a refined musicality is combined with a clear, complex meaning and an accurate embodiment of it. It is interesting to note that in the spring of 1966 Nadya Boulanger visited Moscow as a member of the jury for the Third Tchaikovsky Competition. During this visit she also gave a master-class at the Union of Composers and heard this piece by the first-year student along with other student works. The musicologist Mark Podberezsky, who escorted the world-renowned and authoritative teacher around Moscow and acted as translator, later recalled that: “Volodya exhibited only one composition. She regarded it with great interest. At the end they asked her to sum up her impressions and she mentioned this composition, saying that she liked it most of all. Two days later I met her again somewhere else and returned to the conversation about Volodya, and she added that he was a talent of international class”[3].

The compositions from Martynov's student period include the Serenades for mixed chamber ensemble, two orchestral concertos - for flute and for oboe, the Overture in honour of Sapelkin, and a series of others. This run was sufficient to enable Martynov to announce himself as an established composer, capable of occupying his own ecological niche in contemporary music when, in the early 70s, he laid his first post-Conservatoire works before the public. The works in question were Epistole amorose (1970), Hexagram (1971), Variants (1972) and the Sonata for violin and piano (1973). All of these are written using dodecaphonic technique. Having studied the works of the great masters of dodecaphony, particularly Webern whom Martynov rated especially highly, and become fully conversant with the music of the composers of the second avant-garde - Boulez, Stockhausen and his compatriots - he very quickly found his own method of interpreting serial technique which he applied to twelve-tone material. The fore-mentioned works demonstrate a series of common characteristics. The young composer subordinated the serial writing to his own artistic ideas, interpreting it in an unorthodox but consistent manner. The series takes on the significance of the regulating rule of the game, whose conditions are dictated by the concept of the piece. The absence of stereotypes is a characteristic which may be regarded as a constant throughout all his music.

Epistole amorose (Love letters, 1970) is a chamber sonata for a mixed ensemble of nine instruments. It is arranged as a polyphonic five-movement cycle: Preludio - Epistola prima - Interludio - Epistola secunda - Postludio. The design of the love dialogue determined the choice of polyserial material. Two sets - “them both” and “him and her” - form the basis of the poly-canonic polyphonic structure, in which both sets are developed like the Netherlandish cantus using all possible transformations, including micro-canonic work with individual segments which creates a sonorous highlight like a layer of commentary. The composer's performance note in the score, insisting that “all movements should be played at the same tempo (crotchet = 56) and the same dynamic level (mp)” is very symptomatic. In this way the composer advises the performers not to play about love, as though the music of Berg's Lyric suite was on the music-stand in front of them, but to meditate on love. In this way Epistole amorose conceptually anticipates Martynov's post-avant-garde works - for example, Come in! or the Magnificat - with its non-contrasting flow of music which intensively but imperceptibly recurs without changing state.

In Hexagram for piano (1971) Martynov radically changes the way in which he works with the series. This large-scale one-movement work is intended as a “logical illustration” of the fortune-telling book I-Ching - “The Book of Changes”. The 64 hexagrams symbolize the 64 situations “which embrace the whole cosmic process”. Primordially the chosen series is accompanied by a division into two groups of six.


Example 1. Hexagram


Its later non-transposed occurrences in straight-forward and crabwise variants continuously renew the order of notes in any sector of the set without returning it to its initial form. The heightened semiotics of Hexagram is expressed in the treatment of individual parameters other than pitch - through the dynamic, the articulation and the rhythm: although the multi-parameter sets were formed without these, a definite line of change may still be traced through them. It is constructed on the basis of binary opposition, for example yin/yang, masculine/feminine, light/shade and so on, and may be seen in dynamic contrasts (soft/loud), rhythmic contrasts (short notes/long notes or pedals), and in contrasts in the articulation (point/line, staccato/legato). All of these multi-parameter pairs are superimposed onto the constantly-renewing pitch set in various combinations, symbolizing the principle of alea - the idea of non-repeating situations.

Subsequent works from the first half of the 70s - Variants, Canzoni and the Violin Sonata - continue the strict structuring of twelve-tone material. Martynov has even worked out his own version of serial technique. The firm characteristics of this version include a narrowing of the circle of transposition of sets to the point of non-transposition, the use of segmentation, the stability of individual segments, a certain freedom (although it is also controlled), and the rearrangement and “intersection” of segments.

The Violin Sonata (1973), in which the composer works with a non-transposed set, is especially remarkable: “I do not feel the need for transposition. I have always found modulation in general to be undesirable. Even when still at school, I was fascinated by Machaut's hocketing, his minimalism, and the fact that something happens while at the same time nothing happens”. A kind of elemental minimalism is also found in the Violin Sonata. Here the composer realized his intention “to reduce the serial element to such clarity that it may be comprehended by the ear, in contrast to Webern or Boulez”. The set is divided into six pairs of stable semitone-segments, the order of which is varied in each of the three movements of the sonata. The serial “minimalism” is presented most clearly in the second movement where the set is developed horizontally in the two-voice texture in the form of a crabwise canon. The spatial idea is capricious: the canon is interjected like an echo. The game of palindromes is very inventive: the tritone transposition of the crabwise movement does not change the pitches of the semitone-segments, only the echo announces the interjection in its mirrored reflection.


Example 2. Violin Sonata


In the compositions from the avant-garde period one already begins to sense a gradual tendency towards the separation of material. The poly-canonic and highly polyphonic Epistole amorose and the cantilena style are in the past. In their place is a rarefied texture made up of points, lines and pauses. In the composition Asana for double bass, for example, the material is reduced to a single sound which is illuminated in different ways by sonorous effects. This minimization of material is accompanied by a compression of its significance and conceptual idea and a maximum emphasis on structure in accordance with the avant-garde style. The structural tension is the result of a subtle and inventive game of ideas.

Another innovative characteristic is the para-musical aspect. The attempt to exceed the boundaries of the purely musical sphere becomes ever clearer in Martynov's compositions. The momentum of theoretical activity intensifies step by step. Initially the games follow a set plan, as in Variants for violin and piano. In later pieces, such as Music for piano and percussion (1974) and Music for piano, two violins and percussion (1974), the actions of the performers introduce elements of improvization  into the content of the piece, like the instrumental theatre of Kagel. It was at just this time (1972-1974) that Martynov, together with Aleksei Lyubimov and Mark Pekarsky, organized and performed in the first musical “happening” in the USSR. The composer humorously recalls that several of these “happenings” provoked scandals and stormy reactions, such as the refusal to let them enter the city of Riga. However, everything began in an entirely respectable fashion, with the mounting of a musical evening in memory of Nikolai Roerich in the Moscow House of Friendship.

An event which followed shortly after the “happening” resulted in the creation of the composition entitled Protection from the comet Kohoutek for two pianos in eight hands (1973). This work was conceived as an appeal to the highest cosmic forces. According to a press communication, the world's astronomers predicted a global catastrophe resulting from the Earth's passage through the tail of the comet Kohoutek (named after the scientist who discovered it). The composer planned to create a collective work recalling the ancient shaman's ritual of exorcism - “I decided to save humanity”. The piece was performed in the summer of 1973 in the chamber music forum of the Union of Composers (“I recall that Schnittke was present”). It was performed by Valery Afanasiev, Evgeny Korolev, the composer himself and Tatiana Grindenko. “The result was that the comet changed its trajectory. It had been anticipated that the danger would occur in the winter of 1974, but in December it became clear that, because the comet had remained close to Jupiter, its trajectory had changed. It was a sonorous minimalist piece”. When questioned about the score the composer answered: “The score did not survive; there was no more need of it. It executed itself”. Ritual as ritual. Consistent to the end. There is even a certain logic in the fact that the score of Protection from the comet Kohoutek disappeared without trace once it had saved mankind, as though it had fulfilled its purpose.

However, we are concerned with the logical realization of the idea of syncretism. From the mid 70s and on through the 80s and 90s, all of Martynov's creative work is imbued with this fundamental idea - a symbol of contemporary European culture. To quote his words about the poet Velimir Khlebnikov, who exerted a fundamental influence on him: “Art cannot be an end in itself. It is simply a kind of vehicle which can deliver you to the truth for which you are seeking. And when you have found that truth then the vehicle can be abandoned - there is no need to attract attention to it. It is very characteristic that when reading his own verse Khlebnikov often said: 'And so on'. He came up against such a barrier of existence, reached such deep layers, that neither poetry nor music - nothing human, nothing comprehended by the mind or perceived by the senses - could penetrate. Music, poetry and philosophy are all aspects of a craft. Khlebnikov smashed the shells of individual activities. It is probable that we find the truth at the boundaries between activities. Syncretism is both philosophy and poetry, music and magic. The time has now come when this can be said. Man must be syncretic. He does not have to be a philosopher, he does not have to be a poet, he does not have to be a musician. He must be all of these things at the same time. This is exactly what I am referring to when I speak of the Shaman. The Shaman stands for action and for a much closer cosmic unity than the philosopher, the poet or the musician. Whereas the artist or philosopher simply expresses or interprets the idea of unity, the Shaman actually embodies it - he truly realizes it”[4].

 A definitive change in aesthetic, ethical and spiritual orientation occurred in 1974 when Martynov and Aleksei Lyubimov travelled to Pamir to study Tadzhik folklore. “The people there preserved the old way of life and the ancient spiritual order. We have tried to reconstruct this spiritual order in our own disorderly environment, but this cannot be achieved if we simply transplant such borrowed spiritual structures”[5]. Music begins to take on a subsidiary role in the whole way of life, not just the creative life; it becomes even more syncretically linked with ceremony and with the para-musical idea of ritual order. And therefore its language must direct it away from the subjective creative will to that objective reality and cosmic harmony which is expressed in ritual and in the ceremony of ritual. The composer later said of that time: “In 1974 I broke away from the avant-garde”.

The appeal to the hierarchical order through ritual and magical activity is the idea which forms the basis of Martynov's compositions from the mid 70s onwards. These include a series of works written for Mark Pekarsky and his percussion ensemble: The hierarchy of logical values (1976) and The order of the day (1978). They are also affiliated with later compositions - The triumph of aerobics (1989) and The discovery of an absolutely beautiful sound (1993). In Martynov's opinion, the brilliant Pekarsky ensemble was the very best performing group of its time, and could not have realized his ideas regarding ritual in music any more fully. “Percussion instruments are the very oldest instruments - they are almost relics. They are the least affected by European culture. The violin, piano and flute all carry the ballast of civilization. They cannot reach that deep level which percussion instruments can achieve. They are magical instruments. They somehow participate in the structures of spells and in magical rhythmic formulas. They alone possess an elemental hierarchical power[6].

The hierarchy of logical values is the first of a series of compositions for percussion. It is a six-movement cycle based on verses by Velimir Khlebnikov - fragments from the play Zangesi and the poem Real [Nastojaschee]. The percussionists themselves declaim the texts. The movements are entitled: “People”, “Birds”, “Gods”, “Reason”, “The whole” and “Presentiment of the unseen”. The sequence of movements reflects a sequence of hierarchical steps from lower to higher. On the lowest step stands mutinous and revolutionary man, who violates the laws of cosmic harmony:

Tsars, Tsars trembled,

Tsars, Tsars tremble.

To the

To the axe men...

[Tsari, tsari drozhali,

Tsari, tsari drozhat.

Na o

Na obuh gospod…”]

Birds occupy a higher position: “They are more in harmony with the cosmos; each of their songs is a ritual”[7]. And so on to the pinnacle of the cosmic hierarchy.

This work represents an unusual combination of the avant-garde aesthetic and shaman activity. For Martynov, it is logical. He disputes its traditional element as though engaged in polemics with a diverging postulate on the destructiveness of the avant-garde: “The avant-garde appeals to deeper traditions. Khlebnikov and Joyce, for example, regarded tradition more seriously than is generally considered”. It is clear that the minimalism which is so primordially anticipated in the rhythms of Khlebnikov and accurately answered in the timbral and rhythmic structures of Martynov is rooted somewhere in the depths of ritual tradition.

Other compositions for percussion ensemble are also imbued with the idea of ritual order. The order of the day is associated with the ceremonial traditions of the East. A list of the percussion instruments for which this four-movement cycle is scored will give some idea of the sound colouring. The outer movements - “Morning meditation” and “Evening song” - which are based on pentatonic scales, are scored for vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, antique cymbals, Indian bells, bells, hanging cymbals, triangle, mini-chimes and gong. The second movement - “Meditation” - is a solo piece for Mark Pekarsky: an improvizational raga of sorts, seemingly removed from time, which is performed on tiplipitom, darabuka and Guinean tam-tam. The penultimate third movement - the climactic “Action” - is a very powerful movement thanks to the energy produced by the increasing volume of the ostinato. It is performed by five groups of percussion: three different drums, six tom-toms, six bongos, three kettle-drums and a large drum. It is so gripping that the public usually demands an encore.

In 1973 Martynov began to work in the Electronic Studio of E. Murzin. In those years the Studio was the focus for the most extreme experiments and the most brilliant composers. Sofia Gubaidulina, Eduard Artemyev, Edison Denisov, Aleksandr Nemtin, Alfred Schnittke, the theoretician Pyotr Meshchaninov and others all worked there. By this time Martynov was known as a composer who belonged to the so-called extreme left wing, and he was invited to the Studio by Artemyev to try his hand at electronic music. In the mid 70s the Electronic Studio was a rather colourful specimen of the Soviet underground. Its non-conformist spirit attracted the most interesting representatives of Moscow's intellectual elite - creative people of very different persuasions. Besides composers there were philosophers, specialists in Hinduism and the East, rock musicians, people from religious orders, artists, film directors and students... Celebrities from abroad such as Michel Legrand, Michelangelo Antonioni and Francis Ford Coppola also visited. New works by these composers were given unofficial first performances at the Studio, along with then unknown works by Stockhausen, Cage, Ligeti and other Western composers. Traditional Eastern music was played, as well as electronic art-rock by groups such as Genesis, Yes, Makhavishna, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Tangerine Dream. Experiments with colour-music took place, and religious meetings were even held there. As Martynov recalls, the studio subsequently produced several clergymen and senior monastic priests; many of the rockers turned to Christianity, and took part in the ensemble which Martynov formed to sing early Russian church music.

Martynov produced several compositions in the Electronic Studio. However, they no longer bore any relation to the avant-garde. For him electronic music was somehow directly linked with rock-music. The electronic “sound”, the meditative quality, the hypnotism of the East, and the religious mentality all exerted an irresistible influence on him. His passion for rock-music found a resonance in the passion for Eastern cults (the trip to Pamir took place just at this time). Martynov's work in the Electronic Studio may be defined as non-European, non-secular, non-academic, and not traditionally acoustic. His electronic compositions include: Aum - forms of radiance (1976), psychedelic meditative electronic rock with clear elements of minimalism in the tradition of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze; Invitation to travel (1976), electronic interpretations of works by past composers (Summer canon by an anonymous English composer, a song by John Bull, a solo madrigal by Monteverdi, movements from Bach's Goldberg Variations and Debussy’s Canope (1976); Francis of Assisi (1978), a rock-opera for soloists, chorus, rock-group and string ensemble; Hymns (1978), a cycle of religious songs based on verses by 17th-century English poets for voice, guitar solo, violin and rock-group, whose style is based on traditional Indian and Chinese music and the English Renaissance; and Autumn song for harpsichord and electronic phonogram (1978).

Martynov's electronic compositions turned out to have a very successful performance future. They were included, along with the music of Artemyev, Terry Riley, Cage and Stockhausen, in the repertoire of the Moscow rock-ensemble Bumerang which was formed as a result of the Electronic Studio. Later Martynov formed his own rock-group called Forpost (1977-1978) with which he performed both Hymns and the opera The angelic visions of St Francis of Assisi. His electronic reworkings of the classics, together with analogous compositions by Artemyev, are released on a joint recording entitled Metamorphoses (1980).

From the mid 70s Martynov's work has developed along the lines of minimalism. He is generally accepted as the most consistent representative of this style. Between 1974 and 1976 a radical departure from the structural refinement of dodecaphony and the elements of serialism and a move towards a “new simplicity” occurred simultaneously in the music of Pärt, Martynov and Silvestrov. “At exactly the same time, but independently of one another, we discovered tonality”. However, whereas many composers denied the past in a rather similar way - through a dissatisfaction with the excessive role of the rational element and a renunciation of the avant-garde elite for the sake of a more democratic, emotional expression - the discovery of a “new simplicity” was expressed in a different way by each composer. No collective metaphor could define the “new simplicity” of Martynov's music, Pärt's “tintinnabuli” style, and the “quiet music” of Silvestrov. His own Partita for solo violin, Leaf from an album, Christmas music (Weihnachtsmusik) and Aum - forms of radiance are very dissimilar in style even though they were written in the same year. They differ both in the degree to which the material is organized into a pattern - from the micro-elements in Leaf from an album to the developing song structures - and in the character of the repetition which affects the character of the musical process - dynamic but retarded in Leaf from an album and static in Christmas music. They are distinguished by the way in which the very idea of minimalism is treated. It is as though Martynov studies the method, experiments with its various possibilities on different stylistic foundations and applies it to various artistic tasks.

Leaf from an album bears several traces of the influence of American minimal music: the simplicity and brevity of the pattern and the sense of distillation from some stylistic allusions (Example 3A). In the Partita for violin solo the title alone already conjures up associations with the Bach violin cycles and these do, in fact, materialize: the six movements of this large-scale work (duration 28 minutes) are constructed as a process of gradual renewal of the pattern[8], but the silhouette of the baroque partita shines through (Example 3B). The refined style of the electronic zen-rock harks back to the pentatonic pattern of Autumn song (Example 3C).

In comparison with the two works already discussed, Martynov's Christmas music is a phenomenon of a completely different nature. It is primordially orientated towards a historical style. Whereas the Partita and Leaf from an album had been accepted as an extreme splash of the avant-garde (thanks to the purity of the experiment with diatonic primary elements: the major chord in the first composition and the perfect fifth in the second) and were met with understanding, the Christmas music provoked a reaction closer to shock. The public had grown accustomed to surprises from this composer who never repeats himself; they eagerly await the premieres of Martynov's works, anticipating a sensation. However this surprise took many people aback. First and foremost it presented a new problem: the turning towards historical material was unusual. And it is not treated in the tradition of the neoclassicists, i. e. in a dialogue with the composer's own material. In general, the symbiosis of various styles which are interwoven to form a mosaic does not reveal the explicit presence of the composer's own material, for the basic minimalist pattern is already presented as something which the composer has intentionally borrowed (Example 3D).


Example 3 A, B, C & D


The eleven-movement cycle (which lasts around an hour) consists of both instrumental and vocal movements. The first movement - “Book for instruments” - consists of three preludes: 1. Prelude for star and wise men, 2. Prelude for angels and shepherds, and 3. Prelude for children. The second movement - “Book of songs” - is based on texts taken from the 1912 publication “The word of Life in sacred verses for the common people”. It is scored for strings with solo violin and cello, flute, oboe, bassoons, organ, chimes and boys' chorus with soloists. The composer's performance note, insisting that “it is compulsory that the piece be performed by a children's chorus” - concurs with the commentary in the concert programme, which explains that the purpose is “to combine the wisdom of the magi with the simplicity of the shepherds, and this combination is naturally conferred to each person during childhood”. And so it is said: “If you do not revert and be like little children, you will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven”.

A complex post-modernist text is laid out before us. These are Christmas songs for children with naive religious couplets, from which the aroma of primordial primitivism arises. It does not matter whether these voices belong to children from the House of Pioneers or a church Sunday school - the essence is the same: a pure childish consciousness is invested in these simple-hearted chants. This mass culture, raised to the level of kitch, is only one layer. The profusion of Christmas music from all over Europe from the end of the 16th century until the present day (in accordance with the principle “a lot and for all”) forms another layer. Counterpoints and variations are superimposed onto the simplest chord pattern and alternated as in an English ground, providing echoes of different times and styles: the strains of virginal dances, the textural patterns of the Baroque, intonations of the Lutheran lied from the time of Hans Leo Hassler, allusions to Pergolesi, Schubert, Schumann and Mahler, and children's musical lexicons from the time of Kabalevsky and Prokofiev can all be recognised. An ecstatic tutti apotheosis in Christian rock style crowns the whole mosaic.

Thus is created a grandiose culturological utopia. It undoubtedly contains traces of Martynov's recent “happenings” and echoes of the then-popular rock music - a manifestation of Christian youth. The traditions of sacred Christmas rites are also kept alive. It is as though the composer walks, like an Umberto Eco hero, through the labyrinth of a library which contains all the music in the world and where composers from every age, whose names stand side by side on folio spines, exist as though outside the realms of history. From his standpoint outside history and time he sees them clearly in a single time and space, in a kind of mythological “always” which also implies a mythological “now”. And in this sacred Utopia all of them - contemporaries and fellow-composers surrounded by angels, children, magi and shepherds - turn to the listeners with the words of the last couplet “Brothers, we will hurry to accept the Lord, we will hurry to welcome him with bread and salt...” set to music in which one can no longer distinguish Schubert from the anonymous rock-composer.

The idea of the anonymous author is by no means of minor importance in Martynov's work. Its source lies in a global problem faced by every composer: the correlation of the individual and the non-individual, the original and the borrowed in 20th-century art. Martynov formulated his own view on this dilemma in the title of his book The end of the time of composers (1996). In referring to the way in which the composer expresses himself by the terms “creative work” and “art” and in speaking of their end, he implies an exhaustion of their possibilities. Martynov's “new simplicity” took various individual forms: the primary elements of music, intentionally borrowed from the Americans Steve Reich and Terry Riley, as in Leaf from an album; the melodic archetypes of Eastern music, passed through the psychedelic rock style, as in the electronic composition with solo harpsichord Autumn song, and the use of authorized quotation or “quote-metaphor”, i. e. something less than a quote but more than an allusion to a source which may be accurately recognized by the listener but is never quoted directly. These types of material are all characteristic of the role of the extra-personal source in Martynov's compositions from the mid 70s.

In 1978 a period to which he himself refers as “a withdrawal from music” began in Martynov's creative work. For several years he devoted himself entirely to religious service. For some time he served as a chorister and since 1979 he has taught in a precentors' school and in the Academy of the Troitse-Sergiev Monastery near Moscow. His words - “I stopped being a composer” - must be understood from the point of view of the difference between music and liturgical singing, between the composer and the church-singer, the artist and the icon-painter: in other words, between the original and the borrowed, and even anonymous canonic creation as a form of sacred artistic work. With his inherent inclination towards research, Martynov immersed himself in the study of Orthodox liturgical singing, its history and its treasures. Later he published a series of articles and a monograph entitled The history of liturgical singing, in which he analyzes and interprets the history of both Western and Eastern Christian liturgical singing from the point of view of the composer[9]. He worked on the reconstruction of early Russian choral manuscripts in the archives of a series of monasteries, and has restored a 16th-century znamenny liturgy and a 17th-century strochny liturgy. These have both been performed during worship in the Uspensky Cathedral of the Troitse-Sergiev Monastery. One must imagine the significance and scale of this event, when the Orthodox service was performed for the first time in 400 years with the ancient ceremony of chant resurrected without any trace of contemporary influence. With the support of Metropolitan Pitirim he formed a choir attached to the publishing department of the Moscow Patriarchate to sing early Russian church music and perform the reconstructed treasures. At the same time he continued to work on a series of publications of early Western-European music which was begun in 1976. Under Martynov's editorship various collections of instrumental ensembles by Heinrich Isaac (1976), Guillaume de Machaut (1977), Andrea Gabrieli (1977), John Dunstable (1978) and Guillaume Dufay (1979) were published.

Martynov speaks laconically about his music from this period: “I wrote compositions exclusively intended for liturgical use”. This is a detail of no small importance! Not many composers of recent years whose interests have moved towards Christian liturgical genres have heard their compositions performed in a church during worship rather than in a concert hall. And here was a whole body of liturgical chant, including the All-Night Vigil and the Liturgy, recreated and performed during services in the Uspensky Cathedral and the Pokrovsky Church of the Troitse-Sergiev Monastery, and in the Church of the Resurrection in Moscow. Judging by the few specimens which were performed in festivals of Orthodox music in 1990 and 1991, Martynov had already realized both the idea of the anonymous work - in spirit and in letter - and the move towards canon in these “non-composing” years.

A return to composition followed in 1984. It was enriched with the experience of six years silence. In his music from the 80s and 90s many aspects of Martynov's work merged together to form a new kind of unity. All the components of the past “pre-church” period can still be recognized: the magic of ritual; the appeal to an objective source of spiritual order; culturology and the associated topical interpretation of historical linguistic paradigms; the interest in boundary stylistic and genre situations, and work at the juncture of academic music and “traditional streams”. But now the spectrum of components had widened to include folklore, art-rock and liturgical singing. Other new facets were also added: the use of liturgical genres, as in the Stabat mater (1994), Magnificat (1993) and Requiem (1995); and para-liturgical genres, as in Apocalypse (1991), The lamentations of Jeremiah (1992) and Canticum fratris Solis (1996), which replace the “musics” and “songs” of the 70s. Another innovation is the replenishment of the stylistic catalogue with the znamenny chant, strochny and partesny singing found in Russian sacred music, sacred concertos, Western-European music from the Carolinian era, organum, post-Renaissance elements, classicism, and 19th-century romanticism. This is demonstrated in such compositions as Opus posth I (1984), Come in! (1985), Opus posth II (1993), Requiem, Magnificat, Folk dance (1997), and Canticum fratris Solis.

The minimalist method continued to provide the foundation for the compositions of the 80s and 90s. The works Opus posth I for piano, percussion and treble, Opus posth II for two pianos and treble (1993), The esoteric dances of Kali-Yuga for piano and The exoteric dances of Kali-Yuga for instrumental ensemble (both 1995), Autumn song for chamber ensemble and treble (1984), The twelve victories of King Arthur for seven pianos (1990), Night in Galicia (1996), and Koan for fIute solo (1996) are all written within this framework. These works combine various characteristics primordially inherent to the minimalist style, such as the use of short structures (in Night in Galicia and in Koan the fundamental core is reduced to a single sound), repetition, and the static quality of the harmonic process which is regulated by a diatonic sound-series. But here the similarity with the classical forms of minimalism ends. Even in 70s Martynov had very quickly moved away from the American minimalists. On the whole their stylistic hermetism remained alien to him - a composer of Western-European roots, possessing a sensitive genealogical consciousness. For him the names of Ockeghem, Obrecht, Dunstable, Pierre de la Rue, Monteverdi, Purcell, Schubert and Mahler were sacred. The piece for seven pianos entitled The twelve victories of King Arthur may serve as a model of his own version of minimalism. It was written for the collective multi-piano cycle Seven pianos. According to the plan drawn up by the organizers of the festival Alternative-90, the concert programme would consist of seven pieces written for an increasing number of pianos: Waiting by John Cage (for one piano); Nikolai Korndorf Lullaby (for two pianos); The eternal something else by Sergei Zagnii (for three pianos); La belle musique by Aleksandr Rabinovich (for four pianos); Morton Feldman's Five pianos; Six pianos by Steve Reich, and Martynov's The twelve victories of King Arthur for seven pianos. It represents a combination of English folklore - “an allusion to the musical epos of the Celts or, to be more precise, an echo of the playing of Celtic harpists” - with the techniques of minimalism and repetition.

Martynov accepted post-modernism with its culturological accents as a sign of the times. Of the characteristic traits inherent in this trend - irony and allegory - the composer chose the latter since irony contains a destructive impulse. Martynov explains his own post-modernist works of the 80s and 90s as “an attempt to deprive post-modernism of its destructive character and to make something positive using this method”. The principle of “double material” or “the indirect use of material”, which is seen in the treatment of the stylistic formulae, structural model and genre as metaphors, gravitates towards allegory. The composer sees this as a transference to mythological thinking which “is used together with fragments of former beliefs”. Thus the composer ceases to be a composer and becomes an interpreter of cultural myth.

In Come in! for violin and orchestra the style of the Romantic Adagio is reproduced as a symbol of contemporary beauty. It gathers together the whole 19th-century violin idyll: the idioms and clichés of the romantic lyric - of Schumann, Mendelsohn, Saint-Saens, Brahms, Wagner and Tchaikovsky - are easily recognized.


Example 4. Come in!


However, they are not placed in their characteristic surroundings: the free flow of melody is interrupted by the knock of the ritual hammer and the sounds of the glockenspiel which represent another stylistic medium (repetitive “heavenly” music), a general stop ensues, and then everything begins again. There are six circles and in each new circle the “theme” acquires new expressive details, becoming more protracted. The development and repetition of events in a strict order forms its own structure over and above the undivided musical flow. In these circumstances the romantic idiom reveals a second and even a third meaning...

The text of the poetic programme with which the composer prefaces his work concurs: “An ancient zealot said to his pupil: Strive to enter into the inner store of your being and you will see the heavenly store. The former and the latter are one: by a single entrance you will enter into both. The Ladder to the Heavenly Kingdom is found within yourself: it exists secretly in your soul'. Some day we must knock on the secret door of our heart in the hope that this door will open, for it is said: Knock, and it shall be opened unto you”. The words of the ancient zealot contain the same metaphor. Ascetic simplicity and sensual luxury exist side by side, but they do not meet. There is a vertical link, a common structure between these worlds. The six-fold repetition of the music is seen as an ever more persistent call to ascend the ladder of one's heart once again, and to knock on Heaven's door (the ritual hammer). The path becomes more difficult with each new attempt, but in the end the door is opened: the conductor turns to the listeners and says: “Come in!”. The piece is interrupted at the moment in which the most important event begins and music is no longer necessary: it remains on the outside. The piece acts as a preliminary to something which extends beyond its boundaries. Conceptual action is contained in this design. A certain nostalgia for a past era, in which it was possible to pour one's feelings onto the page without allegory, forms yet another layer. A striving for an illusory “place” was inherent to the Romantics. For Martynov, like Silvestrov, Peletsis and Rabinovich, this “place” is the real cultural past. Music becomes a myth, and the composer its interpreter. This “attempt to turn back time, to live again, to force the music not to end but to play for evermore” may be perceived in the uninterrupted Postludia. Come in! is written both passionately and with a certain aloofness. Martynov has the capacity to delicately lead the playing while engrossed in an ecstasy of fervoured playing; to be absorbed in the music, to structure the cosmos with music and yet, at the same time, to be nostalgic about it. Hence the intense link between the three “texts” - the music itself, the conceptual action and the philosophical contemplation of the music - and the various ways in which it is perceived: as “very beautiful”, “a spiritual work”, “a requiem in music” or “a loving contemplation in forgiving tones”. The present exists in parallel with the conceptual future and the post-modernist past, giving rise to the genre symbiosis: prelude - postlude.

Martynov realizes his own idea of the canon on the basis of minimalism or, to be more precise, on its ability to communicate the ontological essence of time, and to provide a symbol of equality between the moment and eternity. In essence, canonic creativity forms a commentary - a method which is very different from composition. This may be understood as the use of a certain borrowed constant - a cantus prius factus. Through the development of this device every artist may express his own interpretation and, by his choice of source, his own time. By developing the cantus, the mediaeval masters constructed their own world: a work from a work. Today, compositions are still based on a borrowed cantus, but only in the very widest sense - now the whole of musical culture may form this cantus. And the result is very different - a work about a work. The idea of the canon dates back to the ancient mediaeval mentality but, given a topical slant by the entire evolution of contemporary culture, it becomes a key element in Martynov's work: music about music in Come in!; an opera about opera in The exercises and dances of Guido (1997); and a liturgy about the liturgy in Apocalypse. Analogies may be found both in the metaphorical style of Silvestrov's Messenger (1996) and the piano dialogue Correspondence by Peletsis and Martynov. The canonic method is also related to other phenomena in contemporary art: for example, the culturology of Borghese - books about books; the illusionism of Peter Greenaway who makes films about particular works and uses formulae of 17th-century thinking in The draughtsman's contract, Prospero's books and The baby of Macon; or the cosmology of Umberto Eco, who arranges the artistic space of The name of the rose - a novel about a book - according to the canons of the Middle Ages. In Apocalypse it is the cantus firmus of the ancient Russian znamenny chant, reworked by Martynov in the styles of “all periods and schools”, which serves as the canon. The composer treats meta-historical consciousness as the new canon in the same way that he understands “canon” in its widest possible sense, as historical layers and stylistic paradigms. The old understanding of “canon” - church canon - does not lose its topicality, but it is now linked with the concept of “new sacred space” or “new church culture”: “we cannot limit ourselves to a single reproduction of the old church canons, if only because we do not have the right to ignore that cry of pain which the whole essence of 20th-century culture has tom up. We will never create anything truly spiritual in the cultural sphere if we do not experience The black square within ourselves”[10].

Martynov explains his concept of “new sacred space” as “the connection of archaic melodic formulas and structures with the contemporary methods of post-modernism”. This idea is brilliantly embodied in his Canticum fratris Solis. Octo tonorum (“Hymn to Brother Sun, or Praise to all creation”) based on the poetic text of the prayer of St Francis of Assisi - an attempt to return to the melodic forms of the liturgy. The eight hymns to God's creatures, to whom the words of St Francis are addressed, are sung according to the system of eight psalm tones used in Gregorian monody. The stylistic complex is supplemented by Venetian arabesques in the style of St Mark's Cathedral (in the authentic performance given by Mark Tucker, Martynov's post-Renaissance Alliluias recalled the Monteverdi Vespers) and ritual dance, whose intonations capture the spirit of the Mediterranean. The beautiful structural idea of a numerical progression which unites the cosmic order with sound is perceived as a reference to the traditions of the Pythagoras school and to a time when music, arithmetic, astronomy and geometry were conceived as a single system[11].

In the Stabat mater (1994) it is the stylistic complex of 17th-century music - of Monteverdi and Purcell - which is taken as a generalized formula or code of the whole culture-historical layer and used as a cantus. The composer treats it just as the old masters did: preparing a modal and melodic context for it; commenting on it, and extracting meanings and symbols appropriate for his own time.


Example 5 A & B. Stabat mater


In terms of stylization Martynov's talent is unique: not only are his attributable quotations authentic but they also possess the energy of the original. Moreover, they always contain some extra element which turns them into a product of today's culture. The film director Andrei Khrzhanovsky, an artist who has expressed a great interest in culturology, once said: “Martynov is very delicate stylist and knows how to 'shoot' his own work in such a way that it is viewed in a temporal projection. It allows us to feel as though we are witnesses of, and even participants in the atmosphere of the original, whilst unobtrusively building a bridge to the present day”[12].

Apocalypse (1991) demonstrates the richness and consistency of Martynov's realization of the canonic method. This grandiose multi-movement composition for two unaccompanied choruses and soloists (with the soprano and alto parts sung by boys) was commissioned by the city of Mainz for the choir of Mainz Cathedral. It was originally entitled Missa rossica, and this title together with the dedication - “Russian sacred music for a Gothic basilica” - explains the work's complex and divergent genealogy. Apocalypse unites the traditions of liturgical singing of both eastern and western Christianity. Although it is a para-liturgical composition, it contains the canonic sound forms of the eastern and western liturgies - unison-octave and polyphonic singing, psalmody, responses and antiphony - and thus the semantics of the sacred rite are both meditative and extraordinarily weighty. For Martynov each work represents a step on the journey through life. As the first large-scale work to be written after several years of silence, Apocalypse is therefore a particularly significant landmark on the composer's creative path: it is essentially a concentrated inner work. It is a new work in every sense: in terms of genre, spirit and the scale of what is expressed in the composition there is simply nothing with which to compare it. It followed many years of study of the early Russian choral manuscripts which, as the composer discovered, provide a testimony to the spiritual greatness of past centuries. Coming after Martynov's work on the restoration of ancient memorials and his composition of chants for the Orthodox liturgy, this composition - which is undoubtedly a “composed” work - still bears the imprint of the restorer and chorister, i. e. of that anonymous selfless service which the composer himself describes as the lost ideal of the artist's work, and which he strove to resurrect.

The concept of Apocalypse is unique. Martynov's neo-canonic method is primarily expressed in the reliance on borrowed material. In this sense the method is executed with the same consistency as the general Christian idea on which it is founded, and to which it is organically linked. On the smaller scale, there are two factors which contribute to the unique quality of this work. Firstly, it is based on a cantus firmus, as the revival of the traditional techniques of reworking the cantus in Western sacred music from the Middle Ages to the 20th century is defined. Secondly, the composer uses the melody of one of the most archaic Russian znamenny chants - “Dome Efrafov grade svyatyi”, a podoben from the Oktoikh, written in the second glas - as the cantus, and with it is introduced a series of the canonic forms of reworking a source found in Orthodox music. The entire composition has grown out of the chant like a contemporary commentary to it.

In the composer's own words, “there is not a single free note in this work”. He could have been referring to the serial works of the second avant-garde or the Netherlandish masses of Obrecht or Josquin. In fact, Apocalypse possesses such a high structural tension that these are not just analogies: these are the real precursors of this work - the early generations of a single ancient line. However, there is also a third component which colours the whole composition with a sharply contemporary hue: the reunification of different traditions is underpinned by a minimalist foundation into which the ideas of canonic creation (particularly formulaic writing with its use of variation, combination and ostinato - the earliest predecessor of the repetitive minimalist method) are easily inserted. The style of Apocalypse is a logical derivative of this rare fusion. The monodic znamenny chant exists side by side with the polyphony and antiphonal writing for double chorus (of which it forms the basis); the use of formulaic popevki is related to the technique of segmentation. The composer simultaneously works in three hypostases: he is the contemporary minimalist, the anonymous Russian chorister, and the contrapuntists, the descendent of the Netherlandish, English, Venetian and German schools. In Apocalypse Martynov resurrects the ancient Russian tradition of singing the sacred text on the basis of a modal formula while, at the same time, he revives that technique of reworking the cantus and developing the modal formulae within a polycanonic counterpoint which he used in the Summer canon. The use of ison is almost indistinguishable from the prolonged cantus firmus which is sung in the background, just as the ancient Russian podoben with its melismatic insertions is virtually indistinguishable from the technique of colouration. Antiphonal choral exchanges in the Venetian style, reworkings of the Protestant chorale from German cantatas, and subtle allusions to the rock aesthetic may also be recognized.


Example 6 A, B & C. Apocalypse


United in a single person, the ancient Russian singer and the mediaeval Western contrapuntist each adds their own contribution to the creation of a common sacred space: from the former comes the ecstatic and forceful passion of prayer; from the latter - that refinement of structure which is used as a means of meditation and narrative.

The approach to the text from the Book of Revelation - which is theological and not purely musical - is also canonic. The text of St John the Divine is read (as a psalm), sung and commented upon. However, this is not only a musical work - which in itself would have been a unique achievement for a composer - but a theological reading which contains an intensity and agitation inspired by the mystical visions of John: a reading with the help of musical resources. It would seem that the aim of the music is not to paint the apocalyptic pictures but, in some mystical way, to experience them. Thus the composition could be defined as a musical theological choir book. This interpretation is evident in the delicate treatment of the significance of the text (and not in its expression, although the composition is not lacking in individual elements of musical rhetoric). This is primarily achieved with the help of the cantus. The introduction of the podoben - “The house of Euphraph” - is already a commentary, as is its removal (the figure of silence): through its interruption and restoration the composer highlights the associations in meaning between the movements, elucidating these references in his own way. It is only in the final movement - “The Heavenly Jerusalem” - that the chant of the podoben is presented in full with its original text, but it permeates virtually the whole composition as a symbol of the foretelling and expectation of the future. In the finale Martynov compares and contrasts the reading of parallel passages. Using a textual collage, he interprets the symbol of the Heavenly city through a dialogue between the two choirs: each phrase of the chant is commented on using a verse from Revelation (Revelation, 21:3).





[O] house of Euphraph

Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,

[O] holy city

and He will dwell with them;

[O] of the prophets, glory be to the house

they will be His people,


for in it is born the Divine One.

and God Himself will be their God.




Dome Efrafov

grade svjatyj

prorokov slava ukrasi dom

v nem zhe Bozhestvennyj rozhdaetsja

Se, skinija Boga s chelovekami,

i On budet obitat’ s nimi;

oni budut Ego narodom,

i Sam Bog budet Bogom ih.


Numbers play an important role in Apocalypse. For Martynov the number is both a symbol and a structural rule. The number seven has a particular significance in the sacred symbolism of the Revelation of St John the Divine. It is also projected onto Apocalypse where it regulates the various levels of the pitch hierarchy from the simplest elements - intervals (from the first to the seventh within the seven popevki) and melodic formulae (the seven degrees of the diatonic scale - Martynov interprets this as the symbol of the ladder of prayer) - to the large-scale cyclic structure, including the overall view of the composition in its entirety. The large-scale polyphonic construction - a fourteen-voice perpetual canon with seven proposti which forms a vast mass of choral sound - symbolizes the “seven lamps of fire” and “the rainbow around the throne” (Revelation 4:5). The primary objective of the numerical structural rule is the chant melody itself, i. e. the cantus firmus, which is divided into seven sections, sung successively from the first to the seventh, which unite the vast structures within the text of Revelation, such as “The address to the seven churches”.

The number seven also forms the basis of the movement “The seventh seal”. This is an independent large-scale movement, organized as a cycle of seven canons with an increasing interval between entries. The canons are designated in the text: Canone all' Unisono, Canone alla Seconda and so on. Each canon is preceded by the last trump of the angel - in the words of John “The first angel trumpeted”, “The second angel trumpeted” and so on - and is further designated by a signal formula with an ever increasing melodic alteration from the unison to the seventh. In passing, it may be noted that the idea of a group of canons united into a single cycle by means of a numerical progression is borrowed, by Martynov's own admission, from Ockeghem's “Prolationum” Mass which is celebrated as the first canonic mass (it is a cycle of fourteen canons). As though passed down from hand to hand, the structural idea of this most honoured master has become a model for contemporary neo-canonic composers, and is now applied to minimalist material, particularly the diatonic modal formulae of the 20th-century neo-modal system. Each of the seven canons concludes with a choral recitation describing one of the apocalyptic pictures, and in each successive recitation one of the seven segments of the Orthodox cantus is introduced in the soprano part. All seven descriptions end in the same way - with the ekteniya “Lord have mercy”. Thus, we have seven angels, seven angelic trumps, seven canons at seven intervals, seven segments, seven pictures and seven repetitions of the ekteniya “Lord have mercy”. The musical construction therefore becomes a continuation of the sacred structures found in the text of Revelation.

Martynov's Apocalypse was successfully performed in Mainz by the male-voice choir conducted by Viktor Popov and the city's Cathedral choir. Missa rossica was performed not only in the gothic basilica of Mainz, but also in Strasbourg, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin and Paris. The basic elements of Matynov's neo-canonic style which may be observed in many of the characteristics of Apocalypse - the technique of combining formulae, the modal basis of the harmonic thinking, the symbiosis of the different traditions of Christian liturgical singing, the role of ritual, the influence of numerical symbolism which imparts a sacred significance to the sound structures, the departure from orthodox minimalism, and the attempt to transfer the ontological temporal model into the culturological plane - are all developed further in subsequent compositions.

The lamentations of Jeremiah (1992) is a direct continuation of the concept of Apocalypse. In this work Martynov creates an atmosphere which is archaic in the sacred esoteric sense, but is by no means unexciting. The Old Testament text is given in its entirety here and, moreover, in the Church-Slavonic translation, which nowadays is an esoteric text in itself. Martynov categorically states: “Church- Slavonic is a sacred language. If we take even Pushkin's translation of the prayer of Efrem Sirin and compare it with the prayer of Efrem Sirin itself, then we can see the difference. The literary language of Pushkin was not created for the communication of spiritual truths. It is a secular language. It describes feelings, ideas, and philosophical concepts beautifully, but it is little fitted for the expression of theological tenets. This becomes clear when we compare the Synod translation of the prayer 'Our Father' with the Church-Slavonic prayer”[13].

The concept of The lamentations of Jeremiah was influenced by the ensemble Sirin, which first performed at the Festival of Orthodox music in Moscow in 1989. Performing the canonic Orthodox chants in a manner more commonly associated with folklore, Sirin contrasted sharply with the many other choirs taking part. From this unexpected combination was produced the scorching impression of living relic. There is a kind of ancient, timeless sense of reality in its lively communication, here and now. The lamentations of Jeremiah was written especially for this unique ensemble. The Biblical text in Church-Slavonic is therefore sung with open voices, hard articulation and dialectical Russian pronunciation. It is a paradox but this sound seems authentic in the existential sense: through its uneven authenticity and archaism the ancient text becomes tangible, as though removed from time. This more than anything else corresponds with the composer's intention to express the problems of the present day. Martynov describes his turning to the Old Testament in this way: “The world, as we have inherited it, is a ruin in every sense - ecological, moral, aesthetic and creative. The ruined Jerusalem, which is mourned by the prophet Jeremiah, provides a historical analogy. Only the ritual repetition of the prophet's lamentation may be a real and constructive action in our world, for it is only when we have penitentially mourned our own perfidy that we can hope one day to succeed in restoring the world which we have destroyed”[14].

The genre of this work is syncretic. The title “The book of The lamentations of Jeremiah, arranged for singing” appears on the front page of the programme for the theatrical show staged by director Anatoly Vasiliev in his theatre “The school of dramatic art” as a spatially-plastic version of Martynov's grandiose musical work. In the composer's commentary the word “action” is highlighted and his definition of the work as a para-liturgy i. e. an extra-liturgical work, also appears there. But at its heart lies primordial lamentation. Thus we have: the book, the para-liturgy, the lamentation, the action.

The book. Disputing the tradition of sacred music from the “new period” - the 17th-20th centuries - from Monteverdi, Bach and Mozart to Ligeti, Schnittke and Artyomov, i. e. the tradition in which sacred texts are given an emotional and psychological treatment, Martynov instead treats the text in a canonic manner. To set the book to music or to sing in accordance with the book means to reproduce its sacred significance through its structure. The structure of the “Lamentations of Jeremiah” in the Old Testament is unique: its five chapters contain 22 verses - the number of letters in the Jewish alphabet - and every verse begins with a letter-word. The structural idea is that of a repeating circular acrostic using the letters of the alphabet but without any repetition of the verses. The alphabet and the subjects spelled out in the acrostic express the world-order - they are all united by the lamentation: out of the many appears a single whole. The total lamentation is revealed through the fullness and order of everyday life. Hence, we have Martynov's “lamentation over Jerusalem, as over the universe”.

The music of The lamentations of Jeremiah repeats the structure of the ancient book. The composer transfers the alphabet as a symbol of the plenitude of the world into a numerical equivalent in Christian symbolism this is the number seven. In each of the five chapters the 22 verses are grouped into three cycles of seven verses plus one (as in Chapters 1 and 3) or into seven cycles of three verses plus one (as in Chapters 2, 4 and 5). The sound equivalent of the symbol and of the number seven is the diatonic scale with its seven degrees. The numerical and musical analogies are developed in The lamentations of Jeremiah as a transparent structural principle: the whole musical texture is permeated by this sacred numerical symbolism. Numbers determine the interval, the diapason of the melody, the number of voices, and the degree of the scale. The word which reveals the letter and the number is sung before each verse, and the note on which it is sung provides the pitch for the chant, the interval, the diapason, the quantity of degrees contained in the verse melody and, in the second chapter, the number of voices.


Example 7. The lamentations of Jeremiah


The para-liturgy. By this means space takes on a sacred significance. The static quality, the symbolism of each moment, and the structure as a whole already predetermine the atmosphere of sacrament. Independently of whether or not the listener perceives the symbolism, the tension created by the steady realization of the structure, the process of arranging the borders of the universe itself, exerts a subconscious influence just as the ritual movement regulates the space around the singers. The concept of the ritual round-dance (khorovod) forms the basis of the dramaturgy. As though removed from time, the music submits not to a musical rhythm, if by this we mean a physical rhythm, but to a sacred rhythm - the rhythm of change in the acrostic: Aleph, Beth, Gimel, and so on.

The lamentation. The lamentations of Jeremiah is like a mosaic; it contains elements of early Russian chant, Gregorian monody, three-voice polyphony, Byzantine osmoglasie, and Bulgarian and Serbian liturgical singing. The composition underlines that element which unites them - modal melodic formulaic writing. It is based on seven diatonic modes, like seven dialects, and an eighth mixed mode, the lydo-mixolydian mode, which is the principal mode of the work. The chant is built up of modal formulae - short melodic popevki, threaded together using repetition and variation: crabwise movement, inversions, transpositions, sequences, rhythmic variation and combination. Both in the prologue and in the final chapter the recognized formulae of Western and Eastern monody are surrounded by popevki in the lydo-mixolydian mode, which is archaic with a very rich folk semantic. The influence of minimalism is still felt in the formulaic technique of Martynov's writing although it is now overshadowed. In essence this is the discovery of a new method of composition which is rich in possibilities and has its ancient roots in mediaeval music and in folklore. With the help of this formulaic method Martynov is able to construct a large-scale, monumental form. Its principal components are the text, the modal formulae and continuous time.

The action. Of all his works, Martynov's The lamentations of Jeremiah least resembles a composition written for the concert hall. Neither its scale, nor the composer's intention suit it for concert performance. It has been performed in Anatoly Vasiliev’s theatre by just the fourteen singers of the ensemble Sirin, but its monumental scale is like that of an Egyptian pyramid. The singing of this music is a ritual; as a musical composition it neither represents nor expresses, but taps in to that “energy flow” which, in the words of the composer, represents ancient prophetic lamentation.

After The lamentations of Jeremiah Martynov created a whole series of compositions whose conceptual character gravitates towards canon: Magnificat, Requiem and Stabat mater. Bordering on this is the work Night in Galicia (1996), based on a text by Velimir Khlebnikov and the songs of mermaids from Ivan Sakharov’s Tales of the Russian people, in which the composer turns to the folk tradition. Like the Lamentations, this unusual work was not written for academic performers but for the folk ensemble of Dmitry Pokrovsky. In it elements from the avant-garde aesthetic intersect with primitivism, the repetitive formulaic technique, and song - the principles of folk music. Its melodical basis is made up of capricious and changeable combinations of popevki - formulae which form very diverse mixed modes: the lydo-mixolydian mode is used once again, along with hemiola mixtures with an archaic Slavonic Serbian-Polish-Huzul semantic. The work is constructed on a series of stylistic gradations from the basic minimalist elements - sound-points through to popevki-formulae - to songs, although these are again deployed in sound-points. A full circle is turned. The form is dictated by the subject (day, night and dawn) and the conceptual idea: the alphabet (the vowel phonemes in the cries of mermaids) embodies the highest cosmic order; its destruction is symbolized by poetry and song, and the return to the primordial cosmic order by the alphabet once again. There are no direct quotations in the work, but one constantly senses the existence of an original: one does not forget that the composer is a connoisseur and collector of folklore and that he has done a lot of research on this subject, or that it played an important role in his formation as a composer at one time. The use of modal popevki-formulae and the authentic way in which they are treated has produced the most important breakthrough in folklore since the time of Stravinsky and Bartók. The timeless quality and syncretism which are so characteristic of folklore are also inherent in this composition: the ritual action which organizes space itself does not separate out the elements of song, dance and instrumental playing but has open temporal boundaries...

If we examine the points of view from which Vladimir Martynov experiments on the stability of traditional genres in his work, treating them controversially and breaking down the partitions between academic and non-academic forms of art, creating a symbiosis of stage, church and concert hall, the writing desk of the theologian and “researcher into sound” and the music-stand with scores for future action, then it appears that the only thing which is missing is something for the opera-house, either by the composer alone or in collaboration with someone else. And lo! An opera appears. Exercitamenta et saltus Guidonis (The exercises and dances of Guido, 1997) is the most original embodiment of the idea of new sacred space. The title is paradoxical, even provocative, and the genre is controversial: opera; para-opera; meta-opera; someone has even suggested “anti-opera”. According to the composer it is “an opera about opera”. The libretto by the composer himself is a multi-layered textual structure based on fragments taken from two mediaeval Latin treatises - “The path of the soul to God”, a l3th-century work by St Bonaventura, and an anonymous 11th/12th-century narrative Milanese treatise in verse on organum - and on the writings of Guido d'Arezzo, an 11th-century monk and the inventor of contemporary musical notation. According to St Bonaventura the pathway which leads the soul to God is a six-step ascent. In the libretto the structural game is linked with an analogy: the composer uses the “Guido hexachord”, the six steps of the scale ut-re-mi-fa-sol-la invented by Guido, who used acrostics from the hymn of John the Baptist, developing the living chant on abstract sound-series and syllables, as a musical equivalent to the ladder of St Bonaventura. “As a result [of Guido's work] we acquired the ability to write music but we lost the integrity of religious consciousness”, explains the composer. The exercises and dances of Guido is an opera about the six steps of the soul's ascent to God and the rediscovery of that integrity; it is also about the beginning and end of opera - about its brief but sparkling history. It is consistent in its use of the post-modern aesthetic which so loves double and triple coding, combining that provocativeness which is so characteristic of Martynov with an element of anti-irony, distinguishing it from post-modernism which is ironic in principle (particularly the work of Michael Neumann who writes the music for the films of Peter Greenaway). The minimalist foundation, the bricolage technique, the treatment of the stylistic complexes - here, popular operatic devices which embody the operatic source - are all tokens of this method. So too is the leisurely development in the prologue, where the strict minimalist ascetic of Gregorianism is preserved for some time in order to effect another time-shift. Then it is necessary for the composer that the listener perceive the beauties of opera which in the flow of metaphysical time will be heard as false (“False words from their lips” - from the hymn of St John).

Only then does the long-awaited operatic feast begin, plunging the listener (not without an element of the absurd) into a state of blissful shock with its intoxicating bel canto and founts of beautiful music. And how beautiful! Almost more elevated than Handel, almost more magical than Mozart himself, more charming than Rossini, Bellini and the whole of Italian opera. “Bravo, maestro!” - come the cries from boxes, stalls and gallery in answer to the lavish gestures of the composer who showers us with high-class cantilenas jostling with operatic “hits”, leading us from style to style, from era to era. But it is only in order that he might smash them into priceless fragments of that wonderful idea which embodied all our divine dreams: the 500-year-old myth that we call opera - a word which signifies the most absurd and the most delightful creation of European culture - is in ruins. All of this sinks into the sand and is washed away by time as something untrue, just an error, a wonderful mistake of history once made by the monk Guido d'Arezzo. And out of the depths we hear the eternal flow of the liturgy which returns everything to itself, to the bosom of liturgical singing. The historical synopsis of the one-act work is therefore: liturgy - opera -liturgy. The associations with Wagner’s Parsifal or Rimsky-Korsakov’s Kitezh are not accidental. Perhaps Exercitamenta et saltus Guidonis is a contemporary attempt to correct Guido's “mistake” and return music from the opera theatre to the church.

The tension of this dizzy game acting simultaneously on the level of text, musical structure, genre and style, together with the linguistic inaccessibility of the Latin text give rise to an atmosphere similar to that of a magic show, a powerful and forceful influence. The opera is complicated to perform. And it is equally complicated to stage: it is a tough nut to crack for any would-be director, demanding an intellectual aristocratism identical to that of Martynov in order that the high style be preserved without the work entering the realms of irony or kitch. It clearly must not be represented as a traditional opera or theatrical drama, for the characters are not individuals but cultural streams: the luxurious operatic allusions derived from the series ut, re, mi, fa, so, la (the “Guido hexachord”); and the ascetic monodic, organum-like troestrochny chant of the cantus firmus - the hymn of St John. A special space must be constructed: an operatic stage is entirely unnecessary. It is worth noting that the opera was commissioned for the festival “Sacro-Art-97” to be performed in the Loccum Cathedral. A perfect match!

Martynov strives towards authentic and syncretic performance. Almost all his compositions are written with particular musicians in mind and, unusually, these are often non-academic players. This circle of performers, in itself, says a great deal about the different facets and about the scale of his work. It includes avant-garde performers: Tatiana Grindenko, Gidon Kremer, Aleksei Lyubimov, Anton Batagov, the ritualistic percussion ensemble of Mark Pekarsky, whose repertoire constantly includes works by Martynov, indeed one of their concert programmes is made up of a cycle of compositions which he wrote especially for the ensemble - the Pekarsky Percussion Book. It includes the extraordinarily expressive sacred music ensemble Sirin and its principal conductor, the precentor Andrei Kotov, the folk ensemble of Dmitry Pokrovsky which breaks all genre boundaries, working at the juncture of folklore and the avant-garde. It includes the male-voice choir conducted by Viktor Popov - an outstanding performer of Apocalypse, Anatoly Grindenko's sacred music ensemble Early Russian Chant with its original and energetic performing style. Other interpreters of Martynov's music include the remarkable English counter-tenor David James, for whom the Magnificat was written, the Turin choir which canonically (in the fullest sense of the word) performs the Stabat mater which was written especially for it, Kronos-quartet, the English tenor Mark Tucker, an acknowledged performer of early music who is able to imbue the idea of sacred space with a magical power and yet to capture the composer's most delicate intellectual game to the letter. Finally, it includes the conductors Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Valery Gergiev, Saulus Sondetskis, and the ensembles Academy of Early Music and Opus posth, led by Tatiana Grindenko, which specializes in authentic and avant-garde performance.

Thanks to these and other performers the music of Vladimir Martynov has been heard in many countries all over the world: England, France, ltaly, Spain, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Finland, Hungary, Portugal, Japan and America.




1963 Four poems by Velimir Khlebnikov for chorus and chamber orchestra

1964 Five Russian folk songs for voice and ensemble

1966 String quartet

1968 Serenades for chamber ensemble

1968 Oboe Concerto

1968 Flute Concerto

1970 Overture in honour of Sapelkin [Uvertjura v chest’ Sapelkina] for symphony orchestra

1970 Epistole amorose for chamber ensemble

1971 Hexagram for piano

1972 Variants for violin and piano

1972 Canzoni for two violins

1973 Sonata for violin and piano

1973 Protection from the comet Kohoutek [Ohrannaya ot komety Kogouteka] for two pianos, eight hands

1974 Music for piano, double bass and percussion

1974 Music for piano, two violins and percussion

1974 Asana for double bass solo

1976 Partita for violin solo

Hamburg, Sikorski No. 883, 1981

1976 Leaf from an album [Listok iz alboma] for violin, piano, chamber ensemble and rock-group

1976 Christmas music (Weihnachtsmusik) for mixed ensemble and children's chorus

1976 The hierarchy of logical values [Ierarhija razumnyh tsennostej] for percussion ensemble

1976 Aum - forms of radiance [Aum - obrazy sijanija]. Electronic music

1976 Invitation to travel [Priglashenie k puteshestviju]. Electronic music

1976 Metamorphoses. Electronic interpretations of classical and contemporary musical compositions: Summer canon - anonymous; I am young and happy - Claudio Monteverdi; Why do you ask? - John Bull; Goldberg Variations nos. 5&8 - J. S. Bach; Canope - Claude Debussy

1976 Spring study [Vesennij etud]. Electronic music

1976 Morning in the mountains [Utro v gorah]. Electronic music

1977 Song of Morning I. Electronic music

1977 Song of Morning II for electronic organ, violin, flute and cello

1977 Passionlieder for soprano and chamber orchestra based on verses by German poets

1977 The hierarchy of logical values for percussion ensemble based on a text by Velimir Khlebnikov

1977 Autumn song [Osennjaya pesnja] for electronic phonogram and harpsichord

1978 Ostermusik for children's chorus and chamber orchestra based on verses by German poets

1978 The order of the day [Rasporjadok dnja] for percussion ensemble

1978 The angelic visions of St Francis of Assisi [Seraficheskie videnija Frantsiska Assizskogo]. Rock opera

1978 Hymns. Vocal-instrumental cycle based on verses by G. Herbert and E. Marvell for soloist and rock group

1978 Spring song [Vesennjaya pesnja] for violin and magnetic tape

1980-83 Reconstruction of a znamenny and strochny liturgy. Music for worship

1984 Opus posth for piano, percussion and treble based on verses by Nikolai Zabolotsky

1984 Autumn song (version II) for two violins, string orchestra, celesta, vibraphone, tubular bells and treble based on verses by Aleksei Pleshcheev

1985 Liturgy of St John Chrysostom 

1985 Come in! [Voidite!] for violin, string orchestra and celesta

Hamburg, Sikorski 03/2001

1985 Correspondence. Piano dialogue by V. Martynov and G. Peletsis

1985 The Liturgy of the Presanctified Host

1986 The face of Russia [Lik Rossii]. Cantata for unaccompanied chorus based on verses by Mikhail Lomonosov

1990 The twelve victories of King Arthur: Seven pianos [12 pobed korolja Artura]

1990 The triumph of aerobics [Triumf aerobiki]  for percussion ensemble

1990 The hierarchy of logical values. Supplementary version. For percussion instruments and reciter based on verses by Velimir Khlebnikov

1991 Lamento for percussion. Part of the collective work The magical gift of Senior Luigi: In memory of Luigi Nono

1991 Apocalypse for two male choruses and soloists

1992 The lamentations of Jeremiah [Zhaloby Ieremii] for unaccompanied mixed chorus

Moscow, Teatr Anatoly Vasiliev 1996

1993 The discovery of an absolutely beautiful sound [Obretenie absoljutno prekrasnogo zvuka]  for percussion ensemble

1993 Magnificat quinti toni for counter-tenor, violin and string ensemble

1993 Opus posth II for two pianos and treble based on verses by Nikolai Zabolotsky

1994 Stabat mater for mixed chorus and string ensemble

1994 The elves’ autumn ball [Osennij bal elfov] for string orchestra. Part of the collective cycle The Seasons of the Year

1995 Requiem for mixed chorus and string ensemble

1995 The esoteric dances of Kali-Yuga [Tanzy Kali-Yugi ezotericheskie] for piano solo

1995 The exoteric dances of Kali-Yuga [Tanzy Kali-Yugi ekzotericheskie] for instrumental ensemble

1995 Music for Tatiana and America for violin solo

1996 Night in Galicia [Noch’ v Galitsii] for folklore group and string ensemble based on a text by Velimir Khlebnikov and songs of the mermaids from Ivan Sakharov's Tales of the Russian people

1996 Canticum fratris Solis. Octo tonorum for tenor and string orchestra based on a text attributed to St Francis of Assisi

1996 Koan for flute solo

1996 Subjects and figures for narrator, violin and percussion based on a text by Daniil Kharms

1997 Folk dance for piano

1997 Russian-German Requiem for narrator and chorus based on a text by Dmitry Prigov

1997 Exercitamenta et saltus Guidonis (Exercises and dances of Guido). Opera based on texts from St Bonaventura, an anonymous Milanese treatise in verse on organum and Guido d'Arezzo

1998 Sequence. For the 900th anniversary of the birth of Hildegarde von Bingen for unaccompanied vocal ensemble

1998 Bricolage for piano

1998 Correspondence by Georgy Peletsis and Vladimir Martynov for two pianos

1998 Talk on absence of poetry [Razgovor ob otsutstvii poezii] for narrator and percussion ensemble based on a text by Aleksandr Vvedensky 

1998 Iliada. 23d song based on a text by Homer for chorus a cappella

1998 Commandments of Bliss for [Zapovedi blazhenstva] for unaccompanied mixed chorus

1999 The game of angels and people [Igry angelov i chelovekov] for chorus, soloists and chamber orchestra

1999 Litany of Mary the Virgin for 3 soprano

1999 There are some orders for narrator, piano, marimbaphone based on a text by Vladimir Martynov

1999 The appearance of a hero [Pojavlenie geroja] for narrator and percussion ensemble based on a text by Lew Rubinstein

1999 Antiphone for string ensemble

2000 Miracle-worker was a told size [Chudotvorets byl vysokogo rosta] for narrators, piano, flute and clarinet based on a text by Daniil Kharms

2000 L’apres-midi d’un Bach for chamber orchestra

2000 The well tempered beauty for violin, oboe and chamber orchestra

2000 Antiphone I for mixed chorus based on a text by Lew Rubinstein

2000 Antiphone II for mixed chorus based on a text by Lew Rubinstein

2000 Monophony for soprano, piano and bells based on a text from Ulysses by James Joyce

2000 Versions of 12 events for violin solo

2001 Litany of Mary the Virgin, version for 6 voices

2001 Song of Songs on Biblical text for 3 choruses

2001 Metamusic and metaspace. Notated poetical book for reading, singing, dancing, fortune-telling, meditating, examining, translating, ear-training, learning by heart, self-studying and other unforeseen operations. 

2001 “Wagner” in “optic” of Ludwig [Wagner v optike Ludwiga]. Foto-, video- and sound installation in 2 parts.  

2003 Vita nova. Opera. Based on texts from Dante


«Vivaldi. Primavera»


«Pärt. Winter»






The history of liturgical singing (1987), Moscow 1994;

The mystical content of melodic structures in early liturgical singing (1993);

Singing, playing and prayer in Russian liturgical choral singing (1993), Moscow 1997;

Culture, iconsphere and liturgical singing of Moscow Russia (1994), Moscow 2000; The end of the time of composers (1996), Moscow 2002;

The epistolary exercises of a negligent gardener (1996).



“On music in the verses of the Divine Comedy [Dante]” (1971); “Time and space as factors of musical form”, in: Ritm, prostranstvo i vremya v literature i iskusstve, Moscow 1974; “Several aspects of space and time in the work of Ives” (1974); “Notes on the state of liturgical singing” (1982); “On the tripartite content of liturgical singing” (1986); “More about The Master and Margarita (1988); “The marriage supper of the Lamb in the revelation of St John Chrysostom and its interpretation in the Eastern sacred tradition” (1992); “On the various understandings of liturgical singing and music in Holy Scripture”, in: Metody izucheniya starinnoi muzyki, Moscow, 1992; “On the problems involved in the study of form in early Russian liturgical singing”, in: Muzykal'noe iskusstvo i religiya, Moscow 1994; “Several observations about culture at the end of the 20th century”, in: Sezony, Moscow 1995; “On beauty, lamentation, liturgical singing and music”, in: Plach' Ieremiev. Teatr Shkola dramaticheskogo iskusstva, 1995/6, Moscow; “On the history of the creation of a performance”, in: Ibid; “Early Russian liturgical singing within the context of world culture, in: Vestnik, no. 174, YMCA Press, Paris - New York - Moscow, II 1996, I 1997; “Minimalism: the inverse perspective” (1997); “The problem of bricolage in music”, in: Iskusstvo i religija, Moscow 1998; Le Nouveau Testament et le chant liturgique, in: Vestnik / Le Messager, no. 178, YMCA- PRESS, Paris - New York - Moscow, III-IV 1998; “Some work's aspects on the end of the time of composers” (1999); “New sacral space (2001); “Problems of note writing”, in:  Muzyka’lnaya kul’tura christianskogo mira. Rostov-na-Donu, 2001


Programme notes:

Weihnachtsmusik, Come in!, The discovery of an absolutely beautiful sound, The twelve victories of King Arthur, Opus posth I, The lamentations of Jeremiah, Stabat mater, Magnificat quinti toni, The esoteric dances of Kali-Yuga, Night in Galicia, Canticum fratris Solis, Subjects and figures, Koan, Correspondence.


Publishing activities


Heinrich Isaac: Instrumental ensembles / Compiler, editor and author of the introductory article - Vladimir Martynov. Moscow 1976; Andrea Gabrieli: Instrumental ensembles / Compiler and editor - Vladimir Martynov. Moscow 1977; Guillaume de Machaut: Instrumental ensembles / Compiler and editor - Vladimir Martynov. Moscow 1977; John Dunstable: Instrumental ensembles / Compiler, editor and author of the introductory article - Vladimir Martynov. Moscow 1978; Guillaume Dufay: Ensembles / Compiler, editor and author of the introductory article - Vladimir Martynov. Moscow 1979.


[1] Vladimir Ivanovich Martynov was born in Moscow on 20 February 1946. His father is the famous musicologist Ivan Ivanovich Martynov. He began to study composition at the age of 14 under the direction of Nikolai Sidelnikov. He graduated from Sidelnikov's composition class at Moscow Conservatoire in 1970 and the piano class of Mikhail Mezhlumov in 1971. His wife is the violinist Tatiana Grindenko, who is the soloist and leader of the ensembles “Academy of Early Music” and “Opus posth”.

[2] Quotations without references are taken from conversations between the composer and the author.

[3] From the interview between Mark Podberezsky and the author. 

[4] From an interview given by Martynov in the TV documentary The sound of worlds: the poetry of Velimir Khlebnikov.

[5] From a radio programme about the composer (3.06.1992), prepared by T. Cherednichenko.

[6] From the TV documentary on Khlebnikov.

[7] Ibid.

[8] It refers to the recurring structure in minimal music.

[9] Martynov V. The history of liturgical singing. Moscow, 1994.

[10] Martynov is referring to Kazimir Malevich's picture The Black Square, which he describes as “an icon of the 20th century”. See: Martynov V. Several remarks about culture at the end of the 20th century, in: Sezony, Moscow, 1995, p. 12.

[11] The idea of “new sacred space” was expressed by Martynov before the performance of Canticum fratris Solis at a concert in the British Embassy in Moscow on 2 April 1998 where the composition was performed by Mark Tucker and the “Academy of Early Music” under the direction of Tatiana Grindenko.

[12] From conversations with A. Khrzhanovsky (1977). Vladimir Martynov wrote music for several of Khrzhanovsky's cartoons, including his famous works The house that Jack built and The miracle in the sieve.

[13] From an interview given on Moscow radio 14.04.1996.

[14] From the text of the foreword to the score, Moscow, 1996.

World premiere of complete work
February 18, 2009
London Royal Festival Hall, United Kingdom
Vladimir MARTYNOV,
Opera VITA NUOVA More Info

The Monk Thogmey's Thirty-Seven Precepts - new disk of Anton Batagov is released More Info

The 1st International Festival of Joint Projects "Amplitude"
25th, 28th of September
More Info

LONG ARMS FEST- 4 (2007) September 27-30, October 6-27 -- FOURTH presentation of the MAIN INTERNATIONAL VANGUARD FORUM OF TWO CAPITALS -- LONG ARMS in Moscow and APOSITION FORUM in St. Petersburg.
More Info

10 April, 2007, concert In memory of Nick DMITRIEV

Dom Cultural Center
more info

13, 14 of November, 2006 Moscow Composers Orchestra on London Jazz Festival
More Info

September 27 - October 4, Moscow, 2006
DOM Cultural Centre
More Info

8, 9, 10 of July 2006 the play "Mozart and Salieri. Requiem" by Vladimir Martynov music.
14, 16, 17 of July the play "Song XXIII. Interment of Patrokl. Games" by Vladimir Martynov music
More Info

10th of April, 2006
Nick, we remember you...

A film about Nick Dmitriev is now available for download. The film was shown in 2004 on Russian Channel TV Culture
DivX (300 mb) download now

23d of November - 2nd of December, 2005
5 performances of "Unorthodox Chants" Project in UK and Belgium
More Info

17th-19th of November, 2005 Festival in Tokyo in memory of Nick Dmitriev
More Info

1st-10th of October 2005, Long Arms Festival - 2
in memory of Nick Dmitriev
see website

1st of July, 2004, 19:00


Kozitsky lane., house 5

metro Puschkinskaya, Tverskaya, Chekhovskaya
information - 299-2262

new music festival

in memory of Nick Dmitriev

from May 15 till 19
M.Nikitskaya str., 24

composers Martynov, Batagov, Karmanov, Aigi, Zagny, Pelecis, Rabinovich, Semzo, Glass, Dresher and others performers Tatiana Grindenko, Galina Muradova, OPUS POSTH ensemble, Anton Batagov, Sergei Zagny, Alexey Aigi, 4.33 ensemble, Tibor Semzo, GORDIAN KNOT ensemble, ALKONOST choir and others

book tickets

Intro  Personalities  Institution  Projects  CDs Production  Press  Contacts  Subscription  Links
(C) 2004 Äåâîöèî Ìîäåðíà, admin@devotiomoderna.ru

works with a support of Ford Foundation