Galina Drubachevskaya: Edward, during the preparation of our meeting I have read that you have written music to more that 80 films. How did you come to the movie industry?
Edward Artemiev: This number is too old. Now it is more than 150. When I am analyzing my path, some prerediquites that it is as it is and my musical interests are connected mainly with the electronic music, I understand: if I had some possibilities to realize my "sound writing" ideas - independently of the quality of script and the film itself, - then I did not miss it. Sonoristics has always interested me, from childhood I loved Debussy, and up to now I feel some warm feelings to him, as to some close relative. And whenever I am hearing his music, I am always amazed, discovering new depths in it for me. From the same place other impressions came, which influenced me greatly: in 1957 somebody brought to the conservatory works of Edgar Varese, then I was shaken by "A Hammer Without A Master" by Boules. As for me, at that time I was writing music, oriented on Debussy and Stravinsky. And when our engineer, musician and mathematician E.A.Murzin suggested me to work on the ANS synthesizer, and a salary, - these were just a fabulous conditions...
G.D. So, this was the chance?
E.A. Yes, sure. I have graduated from the conservatory in Spring, and already in the Autumn I have met Murzin. He was a specialist on rocket systems, worked in a secret research institute. We began with that Murzin has given me a book named "The Foundations of Acoustics" by Skuchek, on which I had to pass some kind of exam, which he had to accept. Otherwise, I would not be able to proceed in that direction. At the same time to Murzin's laboratory came Stanislav Kreichi, a wonderful person, an engineer having musical education, which revealed himself very brightly as a composer/performer of electronic music, during the work on the ANS. Later on, when this installation was taken to the Skriabin Museum, and its secrecy was cancelled, I have immediately invited Alfred Schnittke and Alexander Nemtin. So, this is how our electronic music has started.
And the cinema was also a lucky chance. It was a double luck: thanks to the work in cinema I did not quit composing. I just can not strive for performing of my works. So, they were not performed. Here, helped the support of my teacher Nikolai Nikolaevich Sidelnikov, who had invited me to Alexander Alexandrovich Rumnev, a mime, a prominent actor in its time. He was only one teacher of pantomime in the VGIK . In 1960 he has organized a theatre of pantomime of his own, and I wrote pieces for him. In this theatre I have met an artist Alexander Orlov, which later became a director, and I worked a lot with him. He brought me to the cinema, to director Samson Samsonov. And for the first time I have written music to a film named "Arena". Still before this I have created electronic music, and again by a lucky chance. Vano Ilyich Muradeli composed music to a film "Toward the Dream" (in Odessa Film Studios). He needed some pieces of fantastic music, and he invited me as a partner. The amazing thing is that he put my name in the film credits, together with his own name...
And in general, I worked in various genres. Sometimes I felt myself not very confidently, but I have never felt discomfort. I tried to study everything, as acoustics with Murzin.
G.D.: With what directors have you worked in cinema?
E.A.: These are a large number of people. Most of all I worked with Andrei Tarkovsky, Nikita Mikhalkov, Andron Mikhalkov - Konchalovsky and Alexander Orlov. Two films I made with Vadim Abdrashitov - "Fox Hunting" and "The Train Has Stopped". During the work on the last film, both of us felt some discomfort in our creative contacts, and since then we never worked together. Still, we preserved the most warm personal relationship, and I like very much this highly professional director, which has it own seeing and hearing of the world, and who always knows what he wants.
Then I remember Alexander Khamidov from Dushanbe - many suffered Dushanbe. I do not know, where he is, and what has happened to him. With this director I worked on the third film in my life, but we had such a mutual understanding, that Alexander Khamidov trusted me completely. During this work I just did what I wanted. Also, I remember two film directors from Tashkent - Khamraev and Ishmuhammedov.
G.D.: So, the Orient is not alien to you?
E.A. : Yes, sure. But these film directors oriented on the European composers, and more exactly, on the European standard of film music. In any case, so it was at that time. They were interested in the European technique, interpreting national melos.
G.D.: But nevertheless, you had to immerse in that world, in its colourite?
E.A.: Yes, undoubtedly. And many years later this served me good. In the year before last ( I need to remind here, that this interview was taken in 1993 - Artemiy Artemiev) I have made film "Urga" together with Nikita Mikhalkov - the Oriental features are there too. And though there are now exact repetitions, those previous works helped me greatly.
G.D.: So, there are three film directors, being equal in their professional level, in your work in cinema. If I may express it in such a way, how in your creative organism such a various worlds are correlating by perceptions of a nature, a person, a cosmos? How do you "arrange" yourself according to their requirements?
E.A.: I have never thought about it. But first of all, I usually follow the shot, i.e. as if I begin to hear it. And the shot prompts the technique, the instruments and style - if I feel the director rightly. An invisible wave of the feeling appears. For a long time I do not follow the director's taste (this happened at first, frankly speaking), and I become a kind of a conductor, and interpreter of his ideas to the language of music. And one more thing: I love composing melodies. In this field, cinema has provided me a vast possibilities of realization. In 60th and 70th - the flourishing of avant-garde - the melodical origin in thematism has vanished, or more exactly, it was almost expelled from academic, "serious" music. But in the cinema melodical thematism never lost its positions, and I have worked much in this field, composing themes. What are they is another question. For instance, Mikhalkov likes them. What concerns Tarkovsky, he left the "right" of the main theme to old masters, and it was always by I.S.Bach. The task of composer in the film was the creation of its atmosphere, the state of heroes' souls. Andrei wanted this music to come from a "concrete" noises, the sounds of nature and everyday life (for example, from the sound of a stream or a noise of a city as it was in "Solaris") and, growing from them, the music as if rolled like a wave, and then dissolved again in the same nature sounds. Sometimes, this was achieved by a mixing of several sonoristic orchestral episodes, electronics, choral phrases into some hypersound, which becomes one of leit-timbres, leit-theme of the film. In other cases I looked for other solutions, but almost always the idea of music "flowing out" from other sounds, "provocating" it other sounds was leading for Tarkovsky. Besides, his cosmology is very close to me. And he never spoke about "themes", but only about "states".
Then (this may be considered positive factor, or this may be considered negative one), I am immersing in the subject in such a way, that it seems like I am dissolving in it. And I have never felt myself accomodating to something, the three worlds live inside me in harmony. I have completed music for "The Mirror" by Tarkovsky and already in a month I worked on the music for "Friendly for enemies, enemy for the friendly ones" by Mikhalkov. And so, this is how the contrast helped me "from the opposite".
And the main thing is the personality of the director. It influences greatly. Mikhalkov has a powerful field of the effect. This is a kind of magnetism, and he "supplies" you with the things he needs. That is why it is simple to work with him. The complicated is to work with Konchalovsky. He came to VGIK from the 5-th year of the conservatory, where he studied as a pianist. And he is very strong, firm professional, who knows musical literature very well. Everything begins with citations, from the deepening of the insight in the history of music. For a long time we are writing sketches. For example, Konchalovsky says: I need something like the second part of the Brahms' Second Symphony. Later we rejected this idea, but I need to compose a sketch in this style. Then we are looking for something else. Of course, the process becomes more complicated: all the time we are making associations with the pieces of the world musical literature.
G.D.: So, Konchalovsky has his own musical concept of the film?
E.A.: Yes, beginning the work on the film, he overloads you with cassettes. Listen to this, listen to that - and make the sketches. Something is accepted, something is rejected, and, as a result, crystallizes the music, which satisfies us both. Still, he abandons his ideas only when he is absolutely sure, that this "will not work".
G.D.: And his brother?
E.A.: Well, he has graduated from Children's Musical School. And all his life he listens to the music and feels it perfectly. Always there are cassettes with classical music in his car. The case here is not in knowledge, concepts, but in a rare emotional flair. And in all his films the main role of the sense is felt. This is also the main thing for me.
G.D.: How did you work with Tarkovsky?
E.A.: Our first meeting has dumbfounded me. Before me, he made three films with Slava Ovchinninkov. I knew him during the study in the conservatory, we were and are very good friends, but first of all I estimate his talent very much. In my life I have never met a person, who would be potentially more talented as a composer. So, Tarkovsky (as if putting me in my place) have said during our first meeting, that he does not know the better co-worker in cinema, than Ovchinnikov, but he can not work with him due to a number of considerations. But he did not say, what are these considerations.
G.D.: Well, these considerations are understandable, in general.
E.A.: Tarkovsky asked me to see "Solaris", - our first joint film, - in the process of shooting, and suggested me to decide when the music is needed to be added to. Later it was cleared up, that he, naturally, knew exactly what he needed, but he wanted to find out my views and conceptions. Something coincided with his view, by not all. Further on, he always told very exactly, what did he need. There were no tales about stylistics and the similar things. He usually paid his attention on the state, atmosphere, for which musical realization a pure sonoristics was needed. It was essential for him, so that the nature of music was not clear - it should be something natural-cosmical, something incognizable. And then he had completely "abandoned" me. He even did not come to the recording. When I asked him why did he do it, he said: "This is not a concert. I have special criteria for the concert, but in the cinema I can not decide, if the music is suitable for the film, until it is a whole, general sound picture, with noises and other things".
Later on Tarkovsky tried to remove music from the films. He told me about it: "Music is needed in the cases, when it patches up emotional holes, and it is impossible to repair them with any other means". Also, here one can attribute the cases, when he exhibits the pictures of old masters: here he needed the illusion of recreation of the roots. Cinema is a very young art, but he wanted that it would be comprehended as a ancient ones - painting, music, literature. And knowingly he used the symbols, which put him on a rank with the "eternal". Really, there are no music in his last films. When he was going to make "Nostalgie", he suggested me to write the music to it (he came here), but Italian trade union of musicians did not permit this...
And so, returning to the "Solaris" - I, being "abandoned", prepared everything I could in the electronic music studio, and then Tarkovsky began selection of the material. Somewhere he change the accents, something he accepted without changes, something he changed. One thing, which caused my objections - the same thing is with Konchalovsky - is that they like to give music in their films very quietly, often at the limit of hearing, supposing that the necessity to listen attentively will raise higher emotional stress from the spectator. And I know, that on the copies the music is just not heard.
The only occasion, when Tarkovsky came to a record, was the film "Stalker". Here he was worried. At that time he was fond of Zen, and in this concern he communicated with Grigorii Solomonovich Pomeranz. In this film Andrei gave a considerable attention to the main musical theme, where he assumed to hear some "state", characteristic to the Oriental music, with the elements of intonation of the medieval European music. It was a task, which lead me to a dead end. And there I made the most serious mistake in my life. After long and fruitless thoughts, I decided that the "European theme" will be performed by an Oriental folk instrument accompanied by the symphony orchestra.
Tarkovsky came, listened to the music and said that it is completely not suitable by its spirit. But the complete record was already made. So, in order to avoid a scandal, he signed that he accepts all the music. Later, the additional financial means were got. The film was shot two times, and the music was written two times. The second time I have a flash on, and I have composed music in a spirit of a meditation. The knowledge of rock music helped me...
At one time, I have immersed into this world for about a ten years. When I have heard the opera "Jesus Christ - Superstar", all the other music was like closed for me. I just did not want to hear anything else.
G.D.: What did you discovered in rock music, or what did it discovered for you?
E.A.: Absolutely new energies, living music. When it first appeared, its enthusiasts have splashed out a tremendous spiritiual energies, and besides, they have found and developed the language and instruments, corresponding to this power. As it usually happens, business structures - there, in the West - have rapidly estimated economical possibilities of the development of rock music. And today, we are witnesses of a giant market, where, regretfully, in my view, a commercial success is a main criterion of a success in general. In the Soviet Union everything was different with the rock music. Besides the ideological "suppressions", an internal reason for the delay of "rock wave". First of all, people needed to learn to play the instruments. Only now our artists do not imitate the western examples, but freely play an instrument, merge with it, and it became their passion. So, from this moment the real rock music begins. And it seems that now one can expect considerable achievements here in this genre.
G.D.: Do you like any of our rock artists?
E.A.: Well, maybe "Gorky Park" is a powerful group. Vladimir Kuzmin - when he did not yet come out of the underground. Alexei Kozlov - a very worthy professional level. Formerly - "Leap Summer" group, young Kris Kelmi played there.
G.D.: In what music were you immersed during those ten years?
E.A.: In general, this is a standard set: "Genesis", "Yes", "Pink Floyd", "Jethro Tull", "Gentle Giant", "Ash Ra Tempel", "Deep Purple" - all the Grands. Yes, and also "Procol Harum" - remarkable group, but after that prominent demand, it has as if vanished somewhere. One more perfect group, "Web", has released two albums and then disappeared. And, of course, Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom I consider just a genius. For me he is indisputable musical Star of our time. This is a person, who could look on the eternal problem so, that nobody could before him.
G.D.: Were there any other approaches?
E.A.: Nothing of this kind. And he was only 21. This was an example, which he could not surpass himself. The Lord has helped him - he has taken such a hight, which he did not ever overcome. There are perfect themes in his following works, but these are much less. He became thrifty. He has an opera, writen before the "Jesus Christ" - "Star Light Express". I have heard and seen her in Los Angeles - this is a wonderful music, just a concert of melodies. Yes, Webber is a grand phenomenon.
Having immersed in this world, naturally, I can not but experience its effect, and used some ideas in cinema music, moreover that cinema - is a mobile art, there my experiments caused neither surprise nor tearing away - independently on time and political situation. And if we can talk about any style features of my cinema music - the rock aesthetics is indoubtedly one of them. This presents in several films, and in this number in "Stalker". I would like to notice, that when I am talking about the aesthetics of rock-music, I mean first of all not its rhythmical basis, but the other space vision and hearing of the very sound, instruments, means of presentation of musical material, bright timbre colours, where the very phenomenon of synthesized or electroacoustic sound becomes the leading or one of the leading elements of music.
G.D.: And have not you got a temptation to test your abilities in other spheres of music? For example, Paul McCartney wrote songs for many years, and abruptly he has composed the Liverpool Oratorium, and now he is writing some large composition. This happened many times with our composers-songwriters many times, too. And one more thing: you are composer of the so-called "third direction". Though, it is obvious, that nothing is divided vertically, and only horizontally - on the quality. But some people feel a kind of inferiority - because they are not involved into something "high" - to a concert, a sonata, a symphony. In its turn, the people who write these works...
E.A.: ... are locked in this sphere, in high traditions, are isolated from everything and by this they neglect the possibilities of qualitatively different motion, motion to a new shores. Rock-musicians, artists and engineers of electroacoustic music go there by a parallel course.
G.D.: The "Moscow Autumn" has passed. For me it, first of all, was divided on the music, which has appeared as a human and art necessity, and the music which could not appear. Or, it could appear in a different form. It is generated by a routine of professional life. What is your attitude toward this problems?
E.A.: The matter is, that the "third direction" was contrived, to give at least some possibility for cinema composers (as they mostly relate to this direction) to show at least on these "Moscow Autumns" their music, which was lying without motion, under a layer of dust.
G.D.: As an instrument of this "guild modesty" - I understand this. Haven't you got a feeling, that this world has come to a dead end, which is headed not by quality of the work, which is estimated by performers and listeners, i.e. by the people, for whom the music was historically written, but is headed by criteria of various kinds, being created by a rather secluded professional medium?
E.A.: Yes, of course, this is at present, and these criteria may seriously differ from the listeners practice, especially in the cases, when the technology is a kind of "leading theme". To the point, the electronic music made its first steps on the way of the "technological theme" and in frames of the avant-garde. This "train" has standed our country in a bad stead. Inspite of the opening in Moscow an electronic music studio in the sixties, a background of distrust has accompanied the electronic music during all the following years, until its closing in 1980.
Now it is sad for me to recollect the fact, that at its birth the domestic electronic music had a technology and instruments, being worthy its time, and we did not yield in anything to the foreign countries. And the ANS synthesizer did not have any analogues in the world, in general. If (again - if) the studio could be preserved, then, I am sure that at present we would have a serious, original Moscow school of electronic music. But at that time, when the studio still existed, we had only a concealment and a non-recognition.
G.D.: And this was made not only by the ideologists, who manipulated by a mass consciousness ("we do not need the jazz of this kind"), but the musicians themselves, in this number those, who during their study in a conservatory were not permitted to listen to the works by Stravinsky, Shoenberg and others.
E.A.: For a long time I completely did not take part in the so called activity of the Union of Composers. Long ago I have understood that I will not find a common language with many of my colleagues, when I have gone into a "not encouraged" electronic music. Later it was the rock music. I know little, what my colleagues are doing. With the exception of my close friend Vladimir Martynov, with whom I am having a lot of personal and creative links. I have listened with half an ear, what is happening in the Union of Composers, and I have occasionally visited the concerts, which were of an interest from me. In general, these are my problems. I had a period in my life, when everything being connected with the acoustic music and the academic performing was not satisfying me. There I did not find a sufficient emotional "rating". So, at that time I have immersed into the rock music. Now I want to do something for an orchestra, but in a straight connection with electronics, aesthetics of the rock music, its instruments.
A strongly scattered field of interests, styles, directions and currents are at present in the modern music. Music has disintegrated into a thousand streams. And it seems to me, and this is my conviction, - that new techniques, and in particular, electronics, - is the very pivot, which will make it possible to "raft" the music, to unite the currents into the whole river. For example, as it was in Mozart's time.
G.D.: How do you realize this?
E.A.: Any achievement in music, any new art, are, as usual, - deviations take place, too, but as a rule, - are also connected with mastering of a new technology. Often it happened like this. How many years does the period of symphony music last? When this orchestra is put down, it means that the new technology has won. Now we have a synthesizer, a guarded artificial acoustics, and one person can supervise a machine and an audience - so this is a qualitatively new music. It seems to me that if it will not become dominating, then it will be the one most penetrating into a listener's consciousness. This is my conviction. I do not know, if I would be able to do something of this kind, or try to do this myself. Yet I am having such intentions... We will not achieve new quality, first of all the emotional one, without mastering of a new technology, which is given into our hands. It always happened, that some tremendous creative spirit breaks through and opens something new, but if we are talking about the movement of music, as a whole, then the burstings of a spirit need to be supported by a power of technological achievements.
G.D.: Are there any composers, which music gives you such hopes?
E.A.: Yes, there are several people. Each of them has something of what I am dreaming. For example, Klaus Schulze - he has a meditative works with remarkable understanding and sense of space and timbre. This is a very important detail, which could be a part of the music, which I expect. I will name also Vangelis, who gravitate towards the large forms, working on a synthesizer. He has specific compositions, being connected with global images. These two artists came from the rock-music. There is a person, which stands as if both here and there. This is an Englishman, who studied in London: in a university (as a mathematician) and in a conservatory (as a composer). His name is Alan Tibu. Now he lives in Canada. He brilliantly combines the rock technology with electronic technique, and he makes all this in a symphonical scales. Probably he is most close to the ideal in question. Still, now I just do not have time to observe everything - more and more new ideas and technical innovations appear.
In general, the new technology has given birth, at least for me, to an amazing phenomenon. Music ceases to be an elitist art. One does not need to undergo a long way of studying to become a professional. Having a talent of creating sounds, some imagination and corresponding technical means, one can take a computer and "realize himself". But discoveries in this field will be made by people having not only a talent, fantasy and a broad professional basis - a classical musical training, but also a knowledge of the up-to-date technologies. Besides, technique gives a possibility to make music more "domestic" one. Until now, thanks to the modern technical means it could be heard at home, and now it can be composed at home.
G.D.: Yes, this will become a kind of amateurishness.
E.A.: And it can leave a trace in the history of the art and mankind. Troubadours and minstrels are amateurs of the Middle Ages. Since so many years we remember them... When I am told that somebody has written a new music, I am saying: it is new, because it is created just recently, but not by its essence. And I do not connect it with what I am expecting. At least, yet.
G.D.: But don't you see people who are approaching this among our composers?
E.A.: I don't know... I love music by Alexei Rybnikov. This is a wonderful talent, being a very many-sided, he perfectly knows new technologies and successfully works with them. He is a remarkable melodist. Rybnikov and Martynov are most close to me musicians, which give rise for a special resonance in me.
G.D.: And have you heard, or, more exactly, seen "Liturgija Oglashennyh"? What impression did you have?
E.A.: As it is usual for Alexei (Rybnicov - A.A.), this is powerful, talented and beautiful. And the music, as it seemed to me, is more powerful, than the things which he did as an author - the playwright and what is happening on the stage. The balance is needed in the opera. Still, only a few can achieve this. It seems to me, that Alexei Rybnikov feel himself too tight in frames of an opera, and he is ready to turn to the works of a larger scale. Returning to the theme of the presages of the future music, I can mention: now everything is as if boiling in a copper, everything is tested. Often the old ideas are presented by a new means. Or, on the contrary, interesting ideas are realized by an old, academical means. But, I am sure, very soon there will be a creative explosion, which will give a shock to us.
G.D.: It would be good to get shocked from a creative explosion, but not from the feelings, which we experience now.
E.A.: And there is everything needed for this purpose - specially designed concert halls with needed acoustics and light technique, which make it possible to do everything created by your fantasy - it only remain, that some synthesis would appear in somebody's brilliant head. Possibly, this will be quite unexpected music.
G.D.: The second Skriabin?
E.A.: ... Yes, why not? And some new mysteria. Maybe this person already lives somewhere. One needs only to dare doing this. Still, a realization of this music is a grand financial problem.
G.D.: Have you seen "The Phantom of the Opera" by Webber?
E.A.: Yes, I have seen it in London. As I have said, I adore Webber, his music. And, to the point, his operas are just marvellously staged. Opera is a theatre, too, and in theatrical field, Webber opens completely. Here present a flowing lake, the boats, floating there, and flying candles, and a chandelier is rushing towards you, so that you are just out of breath. It is really thrilling. This is a phenomenal performance, and again money determine many things here. This is an awful sum of money, but opera is a show, and this is what it should be. It needs to effect an audience by all means.
G.D.: Well, and how do you like Tschaikovsky or Verdi in the "Bolshoi" Theatre?
E.A.: I just do not remember, when I have visited it last time. But what I admire in the Opera, is Puccini. In here it is not important for me, what and how is there staged. Because this is such a stunning performance, I am so resonating with it, that all other as if vanishes for me. Operas by Puccini I have seen on TV. Well, and when Domingo is singing - you forget just everything around you.
G.D.: So, an opera of the past exists for you, first of all, as a music?
E.A.: Yes, and the matter is, that it was written for such as theatre, being illusory and full of conditions. At that time there was no other ways. No everything has changed. And failures of many authors, in my view, are connected with the fact that the music has inevitably changed, so that - against the background of modern theatre and cinema - a technology of the old opera theatre is an unbearable anachronism. Today we need a principally different staging decisions. I am very sorry for a one episode: once somebody has sent me a script of "Solaris" for a ballet. At that time I did not write anything for this, and the script got lost. And now I understand - there were very serious things intended for a new realization - in technological sense. What a thoughtlessness! Now it would be very interesting for me to work on a ballet, and not only a ballet, but a ballet-pantomime, including, possibly, a text (performed by an actor).
Yes, all the time I am returning to the thought of a large-scale form. For many years I am keeping unworked sketches of a concert for a violin and a large staff of electronic ensemble - many synthesizers and some acoustic instruments. The music of flying and dreaming. A violin with various devices will play there.
G.D.: And who will play the violin?
E.A.: Well, I would like to invite Tanya Grindenko: she knows such things and is able to do it. I have a projects of other compositions, which suppose combination of electronics and orchestra. I have one composition - a cantata named "The Ode to A Herald of Good News", which I was writing by an order from an Olympic Committee. It includes a large staff of symphonic orchestra, two choruses, several synthesizers, a rock group. And when Vladimir Dashkevich suggested me to play the cantata on the last "Moscow Autumn", I have conceived, what does it mean to gather so many people, and refused to make it. Maybe it would be possible on the following festival...
G.D.: I was on the concert of the "third direction" in the Tchaikovsky Hall.
E.A.: The acoustics is very strange there.
G.D.: Yes, it is just a curious thing to play there music of the kind you are creating, in which the acoustic balance is so important. And nevertheless - maybe I happened to be in the very "point" - once I felt myself on a tiny raft amid an ocean. I understand, how much scepticism could cause my words. But, I am sure, there are a lot of people, for which are valuable the sensations of this kind.
E.A.: When I came to that concert and saw, how many people present there, I was sorry that "The Ocean" contains a synthesizer chorus. I did not think, that so many people will come, and so did not take one more synthesizer with me. And now I am regretting about it.
G.D.: Was this composition performed in the complete form?
E.A.: Two years ago (in 1990 - A.A.) it was performed by The Cinema Orchestra conducted by Emin Khachaturyan. But this performing was not recorded, and I could not visit it, so I do not know, how did the music sound, but they say this was not very well. And this composition was written in 1972 and was not touched during about twenty years.
G.D.: OK, let us not forget about sad things... You have been to the USA. How did it happen, if this is not a secret? How composers live and work there? Purely practically?
E.A.: What did I do in America? I am staying there more than three years with some breaks and have made music for three films. I was invited there by Konchalovsky, who lives there for a long time and is in the number of "High Quality Directors", i.e. directors of the high level. And though his films are not always successful in the commersial respect, famous Hollywood companies, such as "Warner Brothers" and "Columbia Pictures" , suggest him to work for them, as they see in him an interesting film director. And he is always aspiring to preserve his individuality, which is very difficult. Still, yet he succeeds to do it. But he has proved that he can work in another manner, having shot "Tango & Cash" in the year before last. This is a pure action with Silvester Stallone in the main part. A gangster film, which has brought a multimillion profit to the producing company.
G.D.: And what does he do for a non-commersial purpose?
E.A.: He has shot six or seven films. First of them is "Maria's Lovers" with Anastasia Kinski in the main part. After this he was considered as a strong film director in the USA. Then it was "Runaway Train" , which proved to be also a very interesting one - it had a big success from critics and good commersial profit. Then he shot a film named "Homer & Eddie", to which I wrote music. Then - "The Inner Circle", in which creation I also took part. Then I made two films with other directors. The first one was made with Marina Levikova. She is known here as an art director on the "Mosfilm". In America she managed to become a TV film director. Competitions of various kinds are held there. In this case "Columbia" has announced a competition of a script-writers, and the winner had the right and financial possibilities to film his own scenario. In such a films play the most famous actors, because they understand, that possibly, they take part in the film of a future famous film director. Now I have written music to a large film by a CB5 "Double Jeopardy" - a phsychological detective, directed by Larry Schiller. He may be known in Russia by a TV serial "Peter the Great". I would never come to Hollywood, if I would not have a protection from Konchalovsky. Without it this will never happen. This is a necessary condition, that people there would talk to you. Well, you can say, that you are a professional, you can name the films in which production you took part, but if they are made not in America, they does not mean anything. They make you understand, that you are a beginner in the USA. Then it will be a competition anyway. And I made my way through during four years until I began working by myself, without Konchalovsky. When Larry Schiller suggested me to write the music, I certainly agreed. I would not do it, if I knew that there will be a competition. I began making sketches, he has listened to them together with his producer and asked to prepare the second variant, and then - the third one. A record of these sketches (in samplers) was made on an electronic studio with the maximal approach to the future orchestral sounding. And I was told: now you need to wait for the decision of the president. Later it was cleared up, that more six composers worked on the sketches to the music. With that the president did not want my participation: how a Russian can write American music! Well, and then a closed competition. The president did not know who did what - cassettes were not marked... He listened to the music and said: I need this person. And it was me.
G.D.:So, this is the system.
E.A.: Certainly. With the exception of a dozen composers, masters of the highest level, of collaboration with whom is dreaming any film director and producer - they are beyond the competition. For example, the Italian Ennio Morricone - he is just a genius of the cinema, I am admiring him. We know his music by a serial "The Octopus"; still, he seldom works in Europe. Then I would name John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith. And young Alan Silvestri. He is a guitarist, brilliant melodist, and having made music for a one small film he immediately became well-known. These three composers are brilliant masters. I have visited the records of J.Goldsmith - a stunning work! By the way, non-professionals also are making music in America, and in general composer does not need to do everything. He can give ideas, melodies, and further everything is catched up by makers. It happens, that the cinema music belongs to the people, who do not have a musical education. But it is performed by the highest class musicians. What an orchestra! They play at a sight on such a level, that one just can not wish anything better!
G.D.: Is it a constant group?
E.A.: No, the orchestra is collected for a particular case, but the International competitions prize-winners, the stars come there. And this symphony orchestra of soloists is fantastic! They come here, because they are getting big money for a perfect quality of performing. They say that Stern has also played there. And not on the first desk.
G.D.: It is interesting to know, who was on the first deck? ... And did you hear Stern here on the "December Evenings"? It was just a broadest stream of genius, without the slightest pretensions. Almost domestically. And he has a brilliant accompanist. I am sure that you will never here such performing of Mozart somewhere else.
E.A.: I was not in Moscow at that time. But in general I adore Stern: he has a heady violin... Also I have met a person in America, and was surprised - such a familiar face. It cleared out that it was Misha Zinoviev, an altist. He studied in a Moscow conservatory. He is successful in the USA. He is a soloist and is routinely invited to an orchestral records for the cinema, because he is really a brilliant musician... So, the Hollywood studios do not have a constant orchestra. Everything begins with the choice of the concertmeister of a string group, and he himself invites the people, whom he considers needful - for the given composer, the given music. When I heard their reading, I was in complete delight and told Zinoviev: what else one can want and how this could be achieved? He answered that, according to his practice, he remembers: members of the orchestra in Russia relate to author signs and gradations as to something approximate. In America all this is played with an incredible assiduity, and from the composer a detailed score is required. Still I can say that not everything is so monosemantic. When I was writing music for the CB5 film, they had too little money to invite an orchestra. I suggested to go to Moscow and make a record there.
G.D.: Well, I think that there were a good money for our musicians.
E.A.: Yes, possibly. And so in Moscow everything was much cheaper with a perfect quality. The music was performed by the Mosfilm Orchestra, conducted by Krimtz.
G.D.: Did you have any strong art impressions in the USA?
E.A.: I can not judge about anything in particular, because I was very busy. The first half-year I studied English hard - during eight hours a day. I needed to enter this life. And then the work began, which intensity we can not just imagine. I can not stand their rate of work. Maybe this is possible if one gets used to it from youth. But now - no, I can not stand it. Americans are just obsessed with that; not having completed the work, they are already looking for the next one. This constant impetuosity, tension of the activity is their lifestyle. For example, Jerry Goldsmith is a millionaire, and lives correspondingly: yachts, airplanes. It follows that the necessity to earn money constantly urges him on. So, he is making four films a year, making 400 - 500 thousands dollars for each, not counting royalties and the similar things. These sums are inconceivable for us... Therefore, it is difficult to live there. But they like to live this way. My friend cameraman Yury Neiman, who worked earlier successfully here, and is successful there now, can not afford more than two-week vacation once a year. He travels around the world with a mobile phone. In any place of the world he is getting news - where and who is inviting him as a cameraman. And if something is of interest for him, he leaves off everything and goes to work.
G.D.: Could you tell me, how do they manage to keep the form with such a life? Of course you have seen "All That Jazz" by Bob Foss - it is clear that we just can not do anything of that kind, because this is a professionalism of completely other level.
E.A.: Yes, we need to go a long way, and it is an old film for them. What concerns musical stagings, it is impossible to do in Europe the things which is made in America. And they work this way, and find time and strength enjoy themselves.
First Los-Angeles seemed a dull city for me. Later I understood: there are everything one needs, but it is a kind of "closed". There are many little theatres were famous actors play, so that not to lose form. There are a great number of various clubs - of pop, jazz and others. The culture is not on the surface there - I do not mean mass-culture, - and to reach it, one need to be really interested. But I lived a life of an average man; I studied, looked for job, worked...
But the Americans have a quality, which amazes me - this is their ability to accept everyone. Any stranger comes - and he gets a job. Why? There are a quite enough their own specialists. Wonderful goodwill. Suppose, your English is not very good, and this person does not understand you. He will call another person, so that he could understand what you need. Competition is a rule, and you can not avoid it. But if you have passed it, all the rest does not matter - your nationality, your income, and all other things do not matter. There are no prejudices.
And another thing, which has stunned me, is a domestic performing among the musicians. On Saturdays and Sundays all gather at someone's flat. Say, it is known, that today at Smith's is played a quartet of Mendelsohn, and at another person's place is played Shoenberg. Therefore, while being in this circle, during Saturday and Sunday you are able to visit some interesting muisical meetings.
G.D.: And the professionals of highest level are playing at home?
E.A.: Yes. The table is layed. They play, then talk, then they have some eating and drink, and then they are playing again. Friends, non-musicians are invited. They are sitting and listening. I was invited to some places, this is a kind of a system, a custom. It happens that 20-30 people come to such a meetings, then sponsors are found, which pay for such a meeting as a concert...
If we turn back to the theme of the cinema, the characteristic feature of a work in American cinema is that, even in large movies, music is written in a manner of a animation. That is every episode, every change of frame is commented - everything is detailed. A special musical editor is working on it. Every day I was given a new portion of sheets with frame-script, and I have put these data into a computer. As Konchalovsky has explained me, this was needed to release the perception of the film for a spectator maximally. Everything needs to be understood to the end.
G.D.: So, if Tarkovsky wanted to remove music completely, so that it would not play a role of an emotional support for the visual sequence, - in America they have an opposite approach: to explain it by all means?
E.A.: Exactly. And if you can give good themes - this is excellent! But in general, the matter is understood as follows. The cinema is put together from all the possible components. Literature (and poetry), painting, theatre and music. All these need to be put together, so that not any string would be lost. Everything should work for the frame. Therefore, with a rare exceptions, music created for a film does not live undependently. Someone can ask me: well, but what about "Alexander Nevskii" by S.Prokofiev? But this is not a cinema music, it is conceived as a separate composition. And in general, at that time neither film directors, nor composers did not have a present understanding of cinema dramatic art. Now (if this is not a musical film) music is so attached to the frame, so counted on a video sequence, that it is a rare success, when it is "working" without an image. And, in my view, an ideal cinema music is the one, which can not be taken out of the frame. Though once I have recorded the music from my films independently in an album (LP - A.A.), by a name of "Films - moods", and the album was sold out. With all that the work in cinema for a composer is an enormous testing area for all possible methods. You can chose any manner of writing and realize it. Not any art gives such a possibility for an experiment, and maybe that is why the cinema is so synthetic. For those musicians, who wish to write opera, this is an invaluable area; this is only one step from here to the opera. So, this is a tremendous school of acquirement of dramatic art - but one needs not to treat the cinema as a trade, and moreover - as a bungle. The above mentioned "The Ocean" could appear only after "Solaris" in the work on which I have invented a special technique of the note writing. Before that I hardly thought for a long time: if this music would be written in a conventional meter-rhythmical framework, then a 15-minute composition would take hundreds sheets, and the main thing is that not everything could be recorded. After that I could work with that technique for a very long time, but it was not interesting for me anymore. I have used it in a work on couple of films, and that was all.
After that I tried to do something in electronic music. But now I am interested most of all in the implementation of the synthetic ideas, which we were talking about, concerning the unification of acoustic instruments and electronics in some new quality. Yet I have probed this in creation of "The Ode to A Herald of Good News", where I succeeded to unite two so different worlds in one acoustic space: an artificial sound and a real one, which, as it seems, are in contradiction with each other. I have understood, that everything is unified and sounds in one space. One needs to invent this unified space - and then everything in it penetrates into one another, merges together, and lives. The advantage of electronic music is that it has given to a composer a possibility to conduct the third dimension - space. In this "composed" space you may, for example, keep the listener's attention on a one cord, and he will experience a huge effect; this will be the time, filled with large, deepest events.
And in general one can write music namely for a recording. The very symphony orchestra may be interpreted as a synthesizer. If the orchestra could be placed in a special way, and a microphone could be put to each instrument - completely different music from that traditionally performed in a concert hall will come out, - with the same initial musical script.
G.D.: Whom do you consider the forerunner of the new phenomena at issue in the old, previous music?
E.A.: First of all, Edgar Varese. Later many names appeared, but he, according to his view on the music, is the father of a new age.
G.D.: And has he, Varese, any predecessors, or has appeared on an empty place?
E.A.: Well, it seems to me that nothing appears on an empty place. And the synthesizer is not an invention of the twentieth century, it came from the Ancient Rome. In principle, the synthesizer is a transformation of an organ. The same as a work with a space. It is made for a long time in chirches - I mean the placement of a chorus. Obviously, mankind possesses an enormous complex of a non-realized potential knowledge, which are seemingly discovered again, every time on a new stage, with the help of new technical means and give unexpected results. Once Murzin told me, that at present all the oscillation media are used: air, strings, larynx, blow on a thing, the very sounding thing, and at last, the oscillations of electric current. It is quite possible, continued he, that in its time a resonance of the human soul will be located, and an instrument will be made, in which the oscillation of "strings" of the human soul will be used.
G.D.: Let us hope, that such an instrument will never be invented. Let us leave it to Cosmos, the Lord or human nature - name it, as you like.
E.A.: I agree with you. Lord forbid! But the music for me is the only art, by the help of which a mortal can directly force his way through to a higher spheres, let us say to the God. Everything in the world is oscillations, and having come in a resonance with these oscillations, we can uplift there, where we will never get by any other means, we will not be able even to touch it. And the music helps it, and in the music we are getting in touch with something highest.
G.D.: With which music are you getting there?
E.A.: These are only fragments, though it is principally not important, who namely helps you. Often this is a religious music, mentioned by me Puccini. And Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky sometimes touches deeply. Sometimes, I fly away on the wave of Debussy. In general, all the great composers possess this quality, and I think that the humanity considers them great because they are close to many people by the resonance structure and provoke in the listeners streams of energy, which uplifts the soul. In this concern, the greatest sorcerer for me is Mozart, and Beethoven is completely closed. Now my attitude to his music is favourable, but what a torture was in the concervatory studying and "sit for" it!
G.D.: I am afraid that by our time this music was terribly mislayed, as well as something from Tchaikovsky. But Beethoven was "suppressed" also ideologically. When I am listening to the "Moonlight Sonata" - it does not matter how much time I will hear it - it is like a Sphynx, a closed book. I feel something incredible in it...
E.A.: I agree. This is how Beethoven's works were turned into a pop-music. This is the other side of the senseless popularization of the elitist art. In Tarkovsky's Mirror is an episode in the final: the train passes, and out of the noise and rhythm of the wheels one can hear a sounds of music. Tarkovsky told me: "Let's select something from a classical pop-music". And we chose Ravel's "Bolero", final of the Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Overture to "Russlan and Liudmila" by Glinka, Wagner's "Flight of Valkyries" and... "Marseillaise". All this is sounding almost every day on radio or on the concerts. And one needs to tune himself and love this music very much, so that not to lose, so to speak, the freshness of impression and not to miss the feeling of its real beauty and importance.
Galina Drubachevskaya ("Musical Academy", No.2, 1993)