14 May 2014, Wednesday
"Invitation to the Museum" - 120th anniversary of Samuil A. Samosud
"Nothing has ever captivated me more than the possibility to stand by the cradle of something new" (Samuil A. Samosud)
We mark the 120th anniversary of the Russian and Soviet conductor, pedagogue and cellist Samuil A. Samosud. A People's Artist of the USSR (1937) and a laureate of three Stalin prizes (1941, 1947 and 1952), he was born on May 14th 1884 in Tiflis (Tbilisi), which was then one of the main music centers of the country.
His conducting career lasted for about half a century. How much he did over those five decades! His artistic career started in 1910 at the People's House in Saint Petersburg, where he conducted opera performances. By that time he had already received great professional training - he had graduated from the Tiflis music college, where he studied playing the wind instruments in the class of professor E. Gandzhini and playing the cello in the class of professor A. Polivko. Later he studied in Prague and Paris; his teachers were such outstanding musicians, as a cellist G. Vigan, conductors K. Kovargovic and E. Colonne and a composer V. d' Indy.
The young musician got a chance to apply his talent, knowledge and energy when he became the head of the new music collective - the Small Opera Theatre in Saint Petersburg, which was called "a laboratory of the Soviet opera" at the time. "The Nose" and "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District" by D. Shostakovich, "Name-Day" and "The Peasant of Komarino" by V. Zhelobinsky, "Quiet Flows the Don" by I. Dzerzhinsky, "War and Peace" by S. Prokofiev and many other operas that premiered at this theatre and were conducted by Samosud owe a big part of their success to his inspired talent and skill.
In 1936 Samosud became the chief conductor and the artistic director of the Bolshoi Theatre. His great artistic and organizational talent showed even brighter when he became a part of this powerful and flexible creative organism: he staged the new version of "Ruslan and Lyudmila" and took an active part in creation of the new version of "Ivan Susanin", which had not been performed at the Bolshoi Theatre for more than two decades. His production of "Iolanta" was one of his brightest creative accomplishments. Samosud inspired and created a wonderful performance, as he showed the development of this touching genius drama, composed by Tchaikovsky, through sound. While working at the Bolshoi Theatre, Samosud did not forget about new pieces as well. He conducted the opera "Virgin Soil Upturned" by I. Dzerzhinsky; during the Great Patriotic War the opera "In the Fire" by D. Kabalevsky was staged. During the same period of time, as he was staying in Kuybyshev (Samara), he was the first to perform the Symphony No. 7 by D. Shostakovich.
In 1943 S. Samosud became the chief conductor of the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre. After the war the experienced conductor at first directed the opera and symphony orchestra of the All-Union radio, and later founded and directed the Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. Premieres of the last pieces by Prokofiev, conducted by S. Samosud - Symphony No. 7, oratorio "On Guard for Peace" and suite "Winter Bonfire" - were important events in the Moscow's music life.
This is what we can say about the artist's long and fruitful life: the main thing was the sense of something new, the right understanding of the epoch, the understanding of what would be asked of the art "the next day", the contempt for everything primitive and the true feeling of modernity. When it comes to art, it is not possible to divide life and search. The creative biography of S. Samosud proves this.