Vladislav Solotaryov (1942 – 1975)

(it seems like yesterday, Part 4)

The poet has no career,

the poet has a destiny …


Vladislav Solotaryov, entered the world of the art of the Bayan, unafraid and courageously resolute; his name immediately became a symbol for everything new, original and modern. Already after the first works of the young composer the audiences were literally overwhelmed by the imagery and originality of the musical language, by the “bold” innovations in the composition and in the artistry. They had the impression that it was not the   traditional Bayan that they were hearing but a completely new instrument. After the appropriate remark by the writer, W. Solouchin, some interesting and extraordinary works aroused indignation in one part of the audience and astonishment, and finally enthusiasm, in the other.

It was the same with other works by Solotaryov. A battle flared up over his music between enchanted admirers and declared opponents, who moreover are hardly such any more now. In any event, Solotaryov’s music leaves no-one indifferent, which speaks for the creative courage and novelty in art, for, generally speaking, people do not quarrel over what is ordinary.

In order to explain the “Solotaryov phenomenon”, the state of Bayan culture up to his appearance on the musical scene needs to be set down more precisely. Until the middle of the 1960’s the Bayan with exclusively standard bass manual was predominant. Only a few individual performers had a Bayan with melody basses, which in practice were hardly used in concerts.

For the traditional Bayan there was already quite a big repertoire with works by major Soviet composers: F. Rubzov, A. Kholminov, N. Tchaikin, J. Shishakov, K. Myaskov, A. Repnikov, among others. Arrangements of works by classical composers occupied an important place in the repertoire of Bayan players.

The works of Solotaryov became popular in the late 1960’s. At this time it was felt that there was a massive need for the instrument in its complete design. The performance culture, which in the preceding decades had built up a rich experience, was inconsistent with the limitations of the Bayan with standard basses.

Participation by the best Soviet Bayan players in international competitions became a tradition. These important competitions brought forth many young talented soloists, who, along with the older generation, successfully began a lively concert activity at home and abroad.

At this time a paradoxical situation arose: the Bayan finally developed as an instrument of many voices with melody basses and became widespread in Conservatories and music colleges; there was considerable expansion of the circle of Bayan players giving concerts, but there was no original literature for this instrument. There was an urgent need for composers to become more active in writing for this new instrument. We waited impatiently for our composers like a Liszt, Chopin or Rachmaninov to rise up. It is no secret that the possibilities of this or that instrument are best exposed by composers, performers, or at least good students.

Solotaryov emerged just at the right time in the art of Bayan playing. He was not only a Bayan player himself and wrote for the multi-voice melody bass Bayan with 15 tone colours, but his music, which immediately filled a whole host of Bayan players with enthusiasm, was lively, rich in content, and profound. Leading artists actively took up works by this young composer into their programmes, and his music got a great response from the public.

Let us try to explain the reasons for his rapid and wide recognition. For the art it is very important whether or not it is modern. Modernity, however, is a highly complicated concept. It all depends, to what extent one work of art or other harmonises with the spiritual world of a progressively thinking person, therefore whether it corresponds to the so-called Zeitgeist (spirit of the times). A number of masterpieces of the musical classics are modern for all times and ages, but sometimes it so happens that music which has just been put down on paper by the composer is already clearly old. In this connection one can say with certainty that the works of J S Bach will always be modern.

The works of Solotaryov achieved widespread popularity immediately, primarily because his music was to a great extent realistic, and its pictorial construction was in harmony with the inner world of modern man. It was just such modernity, combined with masterly application of the artistic possibilities of the multi-voice melody bass Bayan, that secured popularity and affection among musicians in such a short time. Solotaryov wrote for the Bayan tersely and passionately; he made full use of modern composition techniques; his works advanced the art of the Bayan considerably.

Modern music is constructed in a rather complicated way. Many traditionally trained Bayan players proved to be unprepared for understanding and, even more for performing, new works. In the final analysis works such as the Partita or Sonata No 3 were “interpreted” in such a way that they were simply rejected. Where the work was interpreted appropriately, Solotaryov’s music achieved instant widespread recognition, both at home and abroad, where it was constantly performed at inter~ national competitions and concerts.

In order to clarify the peculiarities of style of the composer’s works, let us follow his creative path.

Vladislav Andreyevich Solotaryov was born on 13 September 1942 in the De-Kastri settlement in the Primorsk region to the family of an officer of the Soviet army. The first musical impressions of this talented youngster are associated with music performed at home, which was often organised by his parents. Vladislav was enthusiastic about literature, poetry and painting ever since his childhood. From the age of 15 he began systematically to get involved in music in the town of Magadan.

In 1960 Solotaryov entered the Music School at Magadan (N.A. Lesnoy’s class), which he finished in 1968 after three years’ service in the ranks of the Soviet army.

The first works by the young composer came in 1961. In these years V. Solotaryov wrote his first literary works, which would occupy him throughout his whole life: a lyrical self-confession – “25 Unsent Letters”, a volume of aphorisms, song lyrics and romances, diaries covering the period from 1961 to his death. His “Autobiography” is really unusual, which probably arose from the influence of works by F. Kafka and     H. Hesse (especially his “Glass Bead Game”). He published articles on the art of the Bayan in the newspapers “Musical Life” and “Soviet Music”. He also produced a large number of poems, which give one a deep insight into the author’s personal frame of mind:

Silver shimmers the ashes at midnight, in the moonlight …

Golden shimmers the flam as though from outside,

The rustle of the leaves … secret and sad.

Do you hear? The dreams are fading.

And here an example of his literary fantasy from his diaries:

It is already 5 January … 4.00 in the morning … I opened the top-hung window, and a fresh draught came towards me, like Your only, and it seems, distant, distant kiss … With my eyes I look for my distant star … the Preludes by Churljonis can be heard … but I weep …

Answer me, God!  Where is my planet? Where is my real home? Why do You punish me so cruelly and send me to this desolate end? Why does Beatrice humiliate me in front of everybody? Why do You not lead me far over the sea of time, to sail to a native shore?

5.00 a.m.

… and the music flows in an endless stream… and you are bathing in raindrops, spraying in rubies … blending with the sun, and I, like Icarus, melt in the rays of your cruel sun …

And my heart dissolves like a tender rose and touches Your eyes, lips and hair, but You do not smell the fragrance of this invisible rose and blend … blend … lightly/thoughtlessly.

But the music! It sparkles under the rays of Your lovely smile. It lifted the boat up to the stars and embraces Venus, Cicero … it melted Mars’ shield and sword … whispers to the late Phaeton … hurries on and on … sings Mercury a lullaby …

Jupiter dances with jingling ear-rings … Saturn, blushing, tightens his belt and smiles happily in the approaching current of air …

But You blend endlessly and, with outstretched hands, fly … You fly towards my planet … my land … the unique and majestic … Look! You are encircled by an angel host – these are the harbingers of my home!

Nearer and nearer You fly into higher regions to the rose of Paradise … And the music becomes happier and more resonant! It embraces You and leads You into the palace of my brothers and sisters.

And here is my tender, brightly shining planet, Sun. The music glistens with colours never before seen there and spreads unparalleled fragrance …

And Mary is enthroned on a snow-white cloud, and on her knee, in the second row, sits Eve. Below Eve on her left hand sits Rachel and invites You to take a seat at Eve’s right hand … and below Eve sit women from the Old Testament, among them Sarah …

Opposite Mary sits John the Baptist, quietly smiling … Below him men from the Old Testament …

A choir of guardian angels intone the music: “Ave Maria, gratia plena!” (Hail, Mary,  full of  grace!)

To the left of Mary sits Adam as first in the semi-circle from the Old Testament, and to the right sits the apostle Peter as first from the New Testament. Beside Adam sits Moses, and opposite him the blessed Lucia.

The “Divine Poem” by Scriabin is heard, and all their faces turn into the flower of life … How many blooms are scattered in the universe! How many sons warm this mesh of the flowers!

But human life is unique, unrepeatable with its agonies!” Mortal and transitory! Only the spirit is eternal! Eternal and immortal! Only love is eternal! Earthly and full of anguish! Music is eternal! And my love for You is everlasting!

6.00 a.m.

  1. Solotaryov taught himself composition. He tried to write for different instruments: piano, violin, and even choral works. He applied himself to the Bayan with particular devotion. Already in his first works for this instrument 1) Solotaryov’s creative principles were shown, from which he did not deviate for the rest of his life: his relationship towards the Bayan as a serious academic instrument, his striving for depth in artistic realisation, for transposition and dramatisation of pictorial content as well as discovery of new means of expression on the Bayan. The composer emphasised many times his preference for his favourite instrument: “Bayan! What luck that I started learning this instrument… I feel in me an immense strength, but I have to make a lot of effort …” 2)

1)        “Romantic Suite”, published in the “Album for Youth”, “Concerto Fantasia” for

Bayan and piano, 13 studies on a theme by Paganini (manuscripts)

2)        V. Solotaryov, Diaries (manuscript)

Vladislav Solotaryov was a good soloist; he had a real mastery of the multi-voice melody bass. During his studies at the Music College in Magadan he was awarded a degree for the first place in the regional competition for Bayan players, but he subsequently devoted himself entirely to composing.

Solotaryov lived in Magadan until 1970. His best-known works for Bayan in this period included: Chamber Suite, Concerto No 1 for Bayan and symphony orchestra, (score and piano), Children’s Suite No 1, Partita, and also Sonata No 1, which he repeatedly performed in composers’ concerts in Magadan. However, this Sonata was never written down, because the composer was hoping to return to this work again later. 1) At the same time he wrote a series of works in other genres. In 1970 the Moscow phase of Solotaryov’s work began.

In 1971 on the recommendation of R Shedrin he was admitted into the Moscow Conservatory (T. N. Khrennikov’s class). Unfortunately, after one year of study Solotaryov left the Conservatory for personal reasons.

In Moscow the composer’s talent developed fully. He associated with composers and soloists, especially E Mitshenko, who brought a number of his works to a premiere.

V Solotaryov always distinguished himself by his extraordinary creativity as well as high demands on himself … one has to write a lot, but more often than not, one has to tear up yet another sheet of music, … it is vital to write deep and humane music. To do this, it is necessary to engage one’s brain and feelings with the whole preceding music culture, for which one must work awfully hard. 2) He was examining in detail both classical and contemporary works. He did a course in modern composition techniques.

In the Moscow period Solotaryov wrote a number of important works: “Memorial to the Revolution” for speaker, soloists, four choirs and symphony orchestra, “Evening Cantata”, “Diptych and Triptych” for orchestra, “Dramatic Poem” for alto and chamber orchestra, “Martin Eden” according to Jack London, three string quartets, a Sonata for cello, six Romances according to poems by Japanese poets, and a large number of other works of very different genres.

1) Vladislav played several times for me at home fragments of the “First Sonata”. On my request to write them down, he said: “It is not yet ripe. I will write it down later.” So we remained without the “First Sonata”. The language of this music was quite lively, similar to the “Chamber Suite” and the “Partita”. The Sonata No 1”A”, published in Vladivostok, is only allegedly the First Sonata; it is, in fact, the “Capriccio” for Bayan Solo; he wanted one day to make it the first movement of the Sonata, and there is even a manuscript with this name, but it is the Capriccio … But in the “First Sonata” there is different music.

2)        from a letter to A. Nagayev

In the following years a very strong influence of the Viennese School showed up in Solotaryov’s work. There emerged works of the twelve-note music system: Five Compositions, Sonata No 3, the oratorio “Memorial to the Revolution”, etc. In this the composition technique with 12 non-repeating notes was no dogma for him. He himself was involved with new ideas in this area. In one of his diaries there is the following entry relating to this: “We can compose like Schönberg and his supporters, but because of our own naturally inherent aptitudes, we are not allowed to compose like that. Bearing in mind the results of the Viennese, we must find our own way.”

A number of important works for the Bayan were written, including two concertos for Bayan and orchestra 1), two Sonatas, Five Compositions, “Ispaniada”, a cycle of Children’s Suites, funeral music, A la Mussorgsky, Rondo Capriccioso for three Bayans, etc. In 1974 the polyphonic volume “24 Meditations for Bayan” was concluded, which obviously originated under the influence of the “Art of the Fugue” by J S Bach, but using the 12-note technique. In the Foreword to this work the composer writes: “Contemporary works offer material, which can be set to music not only for the Bayan, but also for the organ, guitar, piano, accordion or even vocal and instrumental ensembles in elementary arrangements, without distorting the composer’s score.”

In these works by V. Solotaryov the tendency towards deep philosophical contemplation of the nature of our existence, the world and the universe makes itself clearly felt. In the composer’s creative fantasy all the new and extremely interesting ideas emerged as large works for Bayan, choir, orchestra… But to my greatest regret, the life of this talented composer came suddenly to an end at the height of his creativity.

That happened on 13 May 1975.

… At the beginning of the art of the violin there stood the great personality of Paganini. The pianists’ art was essentially advanced by Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov. For the art of the modern Bayan Vladislav Solotaryov is one of the most prominent figures. He can quite rightly be called the creator of the original repertoire for the multi-voice melody bass Bayan.

The work of Solotaryov is largely autobiographical. He was an artist with a very subjective mentality. Objective aspects of life went through the prism of his perception and feeling 2). Everything he wrote was experienced by him and created under torment.

1)        The Concerto Symphony No 1 represents a new edition of the First Concerto.

2)        “I do not want to find just any means of expression (…), I express myself in

music.” (from V Solotaryov’s diary)

In his work one sees the difficult destiny of an artist. Sadly, the composer failed to translate highly interesting projects, not yet in existence, into deed: to write a cycle of sonatas, suites and partitas, concertos for Bayan. He once remarked to me with a smile: “Children’s suites somehow come before other genres!” Nor was the plan for a cycle of lyrical-philosophical operas about old Russia realised: “Andrei Rublyov”, “Dionisy”, “Nil Sorsky”, “Sergei Radoneshsky”, “Joseph Volotsky”, Avvakum”.

… After reading a book to the end, Leo Tolstoy is known to have been able to say when it was written: by day or by night. In his opinion, Jack London only worked at night, and Charles Dickens by day. V. Solotaryov composed mainly at night (and when by day, he closed the curtain and worked with the light on). Usually the plan took a long time in advance to come to fruition, and then he put it all down on music paper within a fairly short time, virtually without touching the instrument. In this way he was often working on a few works at the same time. He always distinguished himself by an unusual creativity. Sometimes, totally absorbed in a work, he would not rest day or night, and withdrew from the bustle of city life to somewhere quiet.        “My natural condition is solitude”, he wrote in his diary.

He had a great love for nature, from which he derived strength for his inspiration and work. In his diaries there are descriptions of nature, testimonies of love and admiration. Clearly, thanks to this cautiously timid relationship with nature, there is a sense of special scent of carefulness and originality in many of Solotaryov’s works (Chamber Suite, Concerto Symphony No 1). His romantic view of the world is present in nearly every one of his works. The influence of the Romantics in the 19th century is felt both in the pictorial themes and the harmonies. in his music images of the mysterious and fantastic appear, which had not existed in this form before (third movement of the Partita, “Bagatelle” from Children’s Suite No 4, “Mysterious Visions” from the Chamber Suite, second movement of Sonata No 3).

In the works by V. Solotaryov there are many annotations by the composer. Nuances are often exaggerated: ffff, etc. The composer tries to produce a powerful sound from the Bayan 1) just like in orchestral music 2). However, Bayan players need to be constantly reminded that, even in the most emotional and dynamically loudest passages, they must maintain an aesthetically beautiful sound on the Bayan.

1)        In the history of piano-playing there are many examples of musicians with great compositional style being unable to realise their ideas within the limited possibilities of the piano. Let us remember Beethoven’s sonatas, the orchestral sound of the piano in the works of Schumann, Liszt and Mussorgsky.

2)        Any of my works for Bayan could become orchestral works, but there are already so many wonderful works for orchestra; there is no need to add any more (from the diary). Obviously an orchestral score of the Partita for Bayan is of interest, instrumentation of Sonata No 2 could also be envisaged.

The principles with which V. Solotaryov became great as a composer, are based above all on classical music, Russian culture, the latest triumphs of contemporary composers at home and abroad. His creativity is very much of Russian origin. However, apart from some individual cases, he draws essentially quotations from Russian folk tunes (in the Finale of Sonata No 2) of folklore.Above all, they appear in the broad performance 1) of the thematic basis, where his melodies are as beautiful and expressive as folk songs (e.g. the theme of the first movement of Sonata No 2, the second theme in the Finale of Sonata No 3, the Monastery of Ferapont, etc.).

The polyphonic treatment of musical material also indicates the connection with folk music. Themes of the “Children’s Suites” were evoked through images from Russian fairy-tales. One can imagine humour and sadness as well as joy and magic.

Third and fourth (interval) movements also underline the Russian origin of the themes. One can quote a large number of examples from his works, where the influence of the Russian soul can be felt.

Solotaryov’s music is basically programme music, often characterised by a certain theatricality (a series of pieces from the “Children’s Suites”) and pictorial in nature (“Ispaniada”)  2) as well as its humour (Sonata No 2, “Children’s Suite”).

If we look at all the composer’s work for Bayan, it is not difficult to notice that the actual images from earlier pieces are replaced by rather generally held content in the late works. If the actual pictorial content spreads before us in the Chamber Suite and in the first two Children’s Suites, expressed by title and in the music itself, in the subsequent works (Partita, two Sonatas) the programme is rather more abstract, and in the Five Compositions and the Concerto Symphony No 2, we see so-called “pure” (non-programme) music, although the mood is clearly recognisable here too.

The structure of Solotaryov’s Bayan works is pleasingly written instrumentally. His works sound acoustically natural, unlike some original works where the composers have a poor knowledge of the specific nature of the Bayan. Finally, the works of these composers are more like piano works than works for Bayan, and sound like arrangements.

1)       “The performance” is also the essential element, on which Russian singing is based, and also the Russian voice control and, if one listens carefully, all that

is Russian in Russian music.“ Quoted from the book by S. Yevseyev, The Russian Folk Polyphony, Moscow, 1960, page 26.


2)                 “Ispaniada” was completed in 1974. This work represents pictorial stylisations in the spirit of Spanish music. According to the composer’s words, he wanted to create an image of Spain as seen and imagined by a Russian. According to its form “Ispaniada” is a rhapsody. Here there are Spanish dances and several large-scale middle parts as ostinato with fifth movements in the bass, which draw a picture of a sea voyage, and also a lot of cadenzas. “Ispaniada” is framed by one and the same cluster, which should represent the sound of surf. In this respect, it is peculiar that many Bayan players have reproached Solotaryov for the structure of his works. Composers who know the instrument well usually bring their ideas in a pleasant score to paper. Let us take as an example the closing passage in “Capriccio” by A. Repnikov. He wrote minor thirds in the chromatic scale effortlessly and simply, everything else depends on the performer’s virtuosity. In the event of a composer’s unfamiliarity with the peculiarities of the Bayan then he could write this passage, let’s say, with major thirds in the semitone shift. Nothing is gained from the artistic point of view, but the technical task of the Bayan player is made somewhat harder.

This unusual feeling for cosiness in Bayan works is attributable to historically based causes. Essentially Bayan players had to play arrangements and so had to tackle a large number of difficulties and drawbacks. Liszt, Mussorgsky and Rachmaninov wrote for the piano and in no way thought whether their music would then fit easily on the Bayan. Their compositions were suitable only on the piano.

Solotaryov went resolutely for writing music for the Bayan. His compositions were characterised by innovations. It often consisted of multiple lines: some pictorial elements were heard to some extent simultaneously. One finds passages over the whole gamut of sound in both hands, but also very diverse clusters 1) as well as glissando with clusters. The use of standard basses in the second movement of the Chamber Suite is interesting. One senses however that the composer felt constrained by the narrow framework of this static keyboard and should therefore write all subsequent works for the melody bass Bayan.

Solotaryov largely uses the technique of playing on the melody bass, but also the blending of the stradella with the melody bass.

In 12-tone works (Five Compositions, Sonata No 3) the music is not formally constructed; here the sound pattern comes to the fore, rich in real content.

Solotaryov is a wonderful melody-maker. One can take any of his themes, to be certain of this. His melodies are easy to notice and always expressive. They breathe a peculiar freshness and unaffectedness; and even his 12-tone series are tuneful.

Solotaryov’s melodies are stamped with the old Russian spirit. A theme develops, seemingly endlessly, especially the theme of Sonata No 2, the second theme in the Finale of Sonata No 3 and the main theme of the “Capriccio”. The broad melodic breath and the rhythm combine in a flexible phrase. One can take examples of melodies from legends and epics, which emphasise the Russian nature of the composer’s music (Monastery of Ferapont). He also liked melodies like recitatives (third and fourth movements of the Partita). Many of Solotaryov’s tunes are descending, giving them a sad timbre. His melody-making, based on the principle of repetition of the thematic structure, is felt neither obtrusively nor suggestively. Thus the pictorial start of the main motif is easily established.

1)        Cluster – compound sound in second steps, which should result in a compact sonority.

A melody by Solotaryov usually develops in the bass accompaniment without full Harmonisation. By abandoning musical material with full harmony and imitations, rich in content, the composer starts from the natural properties of the instrument, because the relief-like emphasis of individual motifs is just as difficult on the Bayan as, let’s say, on the piano. Another thing is the fugue-like episodes, where the voice control/ tuning? is expanded by changing register and deep dynamics.

I would like to refer to a special feature of Solotaryov’s melody-making: It is basically diatonic, except for some works in the last period, where it is arranged horizontally in chromatic intervals (“Twilight” from the Children’s Suite No 6, episodes from Sonata No 3 and the Concerto Symphony No 2).

With regard to the scale-harmonic features of Solotaryov’s works, attention must be drawn to the transformation of his harmonic language in the course of his creative work. In the Chamber Suite, the Children’s Suites and in Sonata No 2 the harmonies are simple; the predominant intervals are third, sixth and octave. Horizontally very melodic, vertically harmonious, they are very pleasing to the ear.

In the Partita, partly in Sonata No 3, the harmonies are more complicated. The functional relationship is considerably extended, and at the same time the feeling for tonality decreases. Structures, which are not constructed on thirds, and unisono come to the fore. There are seconds and sevenths instead of conventional intervals. The tune is distorted and sharp; vertically the functional trend gets lost. In his later works the composer uses the 12-note system (Five Compositions, first and second movements of Sonata No 3, Concerto Symphony No 2). In this connection it is interesting to note that one finds simple harmonic solutions in his 12-note structures.

The harmonic language of V. Solotaryov is based on the major seventh chord, and that is no coincidence. This chord corresponds like no other to the composer’s musical taste. The major seventh sounds tense in ff and sad in pp. In this interval a question is always included, for which the composer has no definitive answer. In addition, in the major seventh chord the bright major chord (presumably C-E-G) and the rather melancholy minor chord (E-G-B) can be heard at the same time. The simultaneous sound of major and minor chords produces a feeling of instability and tension, through which the emergence of a “conflict situation” can be anticipated.

One can quite rightly say that V. Solotaryov’s music in some respect develops from the major seventh chord 1).

Among the very characteristic scale-harmonic features one must also mention the composer’s preference for the chromatic scale. N A Rimsky-Korsakov was already using this very actively in his work, as did contemporary composer O. Messiaen. Examples of the frequent application of this scale by Solotaryov can be found in the Partita (first, third and fourth movements), in the piece “I call Moments of Deepest Sorrow” from the Chamber Suite, and in the Concerto Symphony No 1.

1)        “… my favourite major seventh chord”, writes V. Solotaryov (from his diary)

One also finds shifts of parallel intervals, chords in the chromatic scale (e.g. in the second movement of Sonata No 2). In some pieces polytonal structures are used: in the “Christmas Carol” from the Children’s Suite No 5 (theme in D flat major, accompaniment in B flat minor). Many works which are complicated from the point of view of musical language end up purely harmonic. Thus the basic idea of the composer’s whole work manifests itself: from chaos to enlightenment.

For Solotaryov’s work the connection between contemporary musical language and classical music is characteristic. In this the composer of the Partita does not imitate modern composers and is not constrained by the scope of “modern” systems. If he finds it necessary, he boldly goes beyond his boundaries. So in the first movement of Sonata No 3 he goes beyond the scope of the 12-note system.

For modern music the weakening of the harmonic (functional) trend at the same time as strengthening of the counterpoint in the horizontal is characteristic 1). It is fitting here to note that many works by Solotaryov are deeply polyphonic, some pieces being written directly in the form of a Fugato: second movement of the Partita, third movement of Sonata No 3, Fugato from the first movement of the Concerto Symphony No 1.

In the works of Solotaryov we do not find spectacular passages without content.

Moderato tempi prevail.

The metric-rhythmic organisation in Solotaryov’s works also has its peculiarities. Their rhythmics often do not fit in exactly defined bars with unchanging beats. Changes of time with different measures help us, for example, in some respect to understand the pictorial construction of the Partita (the time measure is unsteady to the point of complete omission of the bar line in one longer passage).

It is sometimes hard on hearing, to establish the beat, because the metric basic beat is prepared from the start by part of the preceding beat, which leads to an increase in tension. Examples of this can be found in the Five Compositions, in the Concerto Symphony No 2, in the Fugato from Sonata No 3. In many works by Solotaryov a rhythmic figuration in Ostinato pulsates as accompaniment (one and the same rhythmic pattern), which contributes to the tunes flowing in continuous movement.

Similar examples can also be found in works by the Viennese classical composers, e.g. the theme of Sonata No 21 “The Waldstein” by Beethoven.

With regard to the stylistic features of Solotaryov’s Bayan work, one must mention one essential detail, namely the composer’s thinking in respect of registers.

1)        “For contemporary music the harmony which gradually loses its tonal connection must be an especially valuable binding force for the contrapuntal forms”.  S.Taneyev, The Flexible Counterpoint of Accurate Writing Style, Moscow, 1959, page 10

Until recently Bayan players registered original works for the Bayan themselves. Solotaryov is a composer who realises the image with certain artistic sound resources, by imagining both the idea and established tone colours of the instrument. The composer carefully wrote down the whole registration, whereby the necessary registers are based organically from the start on the pictorial side of the corresponding episode of the work. For philosophical thought material he used rather muffled registers.

Solotaryov did not restrict himself to three or four of the commonest registers. In his works he used every possible combination of tone colours of the four-part Bayan.

As a result of the above analysis we shall try to emphasise what new features Solotaryov brought to Bayan literature.

The first thing which I would like to underline in this connection is the new pictorial-emotional sphere in his works. Previously there were hardly any fantastic and magical images in the original literature for Bayan. A lot of new nuances and romantically moving images take on a mournful mood.

In the composer’s ideology there is a prevailing tendency towards dramatic facets of existence. Solotaryov was not afraid of condensing colours, when opposing forces like good and evil are fighting each other (Partita, Sonata No 3).

The composer puts characteristic methods of bellows playing in a completely new light. Russian harmonica players were always known for their virtuoso mastery of the bellows. However, until recently composers applied this expressive timbre very little and only as harmonic accompaniment to the tune (bellows tremolo in the Concert Piece by S. Konyayev) or in lovely folk tunes (“Saratov Ornamentalia” by V. Kusnezov, “Volga Melodies” by A. Shalayev).

In the case of Solotaryov this effect has been fundamentally transformed. The tremolo is associated with a number of specific artistic moods. Here there is both restlessness and trembling and a brewing storm … Solotaryov’s works are also distinguished by a multitude of playing techniques, such as clusters of all kinds, glissando with cluster, bellows tremolo with cluster, cluster-glissando on a row, vibrato in the right or left hand and a simultaneous vibrato with both hands.

For the first time in Bayan literature the composer used the method of collage 1). (“Slavsya!”, an old Russian hymn by M.I. Glinka in the first movement of Children’s Suite No 1, “Verklärte Nacht” (“Radiant Night”) by A. Schönberg in the Finale of Sonata No 3 among others), and in the Rondo-Capriccioso for three Bayans he quoted fragments from his own works.

It is thanks to V. Solotaryov that he used artistic means of expression in a new way on the Bayan and so pointed out new directions to composers in their creative search.

1)        Collage (French) – quotation from another work

In order to appreciate the positive qualities of V. Solotaryov’s music, it is certainly not enough to observe that it is perfect in every respect. From time to time one gets the feeling that the composer with his rich fantasy did not always succeed in managing the wealth of material, which led to a looseness in form, and that he did not always manage technically to transfer his thoughts fully. One can, of course, also find other shortcomings in the works of V. Solotaryov, as one can with any other composer. However, in consideration of his crucial role in the fundamental change in relations between the musical élite and the art of the Bayan, one must be extremely grateful for the coming of the world of the Bayan.


Before you, dear readers, lies the slightly amended fragment of my monographical article “The Work of Vladislav Solotaryov”, which was published in 1984 in volume  No 6 “Bayan and Bayan Players” by the “Soviet Composer” publishing house. The story of its publication is extremely interesting.

In Vladislav’s lifetime I endeavoured to write down various thoughts about his work, arising from our contact. In the four and a half years of our friendship I developed an anxiety syndrome about his whereabouts on this sinful earth, however pompous that sounds. He was all too easily vulnerable, a human being without skin, with blank-lying nerves. It seemed to me that he was some extraterrestrial creature from the cosmos, who had come to us for a certain mission and, after fulfilling it, would leave us. I constantly had the feeling, and I was afraid to admit it to myself, that I could lose him. The article was finished soon after Solotaryov’s death (around 1975/76) and was handed over to J Akimov, the author of the collection “Bayan and Bayan Players”. It remained in his file until his suicide in 1979, without anything being done in this matter. For this reason my relationship with him was not the best; accordingly, my relations with the editor of the publishing house, the composer P. Londonov, who was very close to Akimov, were also strained. Somehow, it happened spontaneously that my relations with Londonov became entirely normal after Akimov’s death, and even so familiar, that one night the telephone rang:

–           “Friedrich, take the collection “Bayan and Bayan Players” into your hands. I suggest that you become the editor.”

–           “No, thank you, Pyotr Petrovich, it is not for me. I would rather handle repertoire volumes. For scientific-methodical volumes B. M. Yegorov would be a better candidate.”

–           “No, he could not do it on his own. Do it between the two of you.”

I managed to avoid further pressure from Londonov by proposing S.M. Kolobkov to strengthen the editorial committee. Londonov was enthusiastic, but immediately voiced some doubts:

–           “But he will not agree immediately, because he is already very busy as Rector.”

I telephoned Yegorov and Kolobkov straight away, apologised for the late call (it was already 12.30 at night), but the opportunity had to be seized quickly for the benefit of a real authority as editor), explained the nature of the urgent problem and, as I expected, received both support and understanding. Then I informed Londonov by another telephone call in the night.

Of course, I was soon interested in the fate of my article on Solotaryov. Londonov revealed to me the editorial “secret”: “If an editor does not want to publish an article, he sends it for an anonymous review (behind closed doors), which as a rule is critical. Akimov did not want to publish your article and forwarded it to Tchaikin for review. That is why he has kept it so long. Ring him and ask him to hurry.”

The situation was finally cleared up. The fact that Akimov didn’t want me was obvious, and I had known this for a long time, but he couldn’t stand Solotaryov because of his outstanding, but for him incomprehensible, music. I remember that he did not congratulate us after the première of the third Sonata, but the next day we happened to meet in the corridor of the Institute, where he reluctantly shook my hand: “Now, I congratulate you on yesterday, but I didn’t like the music at all!” “Perhaps you didn’t understand it, hearing it for the first time?”, I said, trying to mitigate his obviously ignorant judgment. “No, it is precisely because I have understood it that I don’t like it at all.” So ended the Deputy Head of Faculty our brief dialogue as only he could. Akimov gave my article to Tchaikin for review and, knowing well the jealousy of the acknowledged master of Bayan music towards Solotaryov, he thus achieved his goal and washed his hands of it.

I had to ring Tchaikin several times until he finally submitted the review to the publisher. The review was typed on 16 pages. The review was scathing, beginning with an epigraph, which I must take from this publication: “The poet has no career, the poet has a destiny!” I find that these words by the poet A. Blok get closest to Vladislav’s nature. “Why?”, asked Tchaikin indignantly. “Solotaryov is a Soviet poet! That means a Soviet poet has no career! That means a Soviet poet has a destiny! (The word “Soviet” was written in red letters each time), etc. in this spirit of high ideology and party. I do not think that these critical remarks were directed at me personally. I am convinced that Tchaikin was fully aware of what talent Vladislav Solotaryov had in the field of the Bayan. Through my article, where I naturally gave free rein to my enthusiasm for a friend, the master, who at that time was an undisputed authority, felt hurt. But it cannot be helped: the turn of the century produces the problem of generational conflict. The approach to it can only be philosophical. The review ended with the following conclusion: “In its present form the article cannot be recommended for printing. With fundamental revision of the material and after another review subsequently, in the event of a positive expert’s opinion, the article can be published.”

Really depressed, I showed Tchaikin’s work to Londonov. But the situation has already changed: Londonov was now on my side – it was one of those rare moments in life, when the wind is not blowing in one’s face, but onto one’s back. Artfully, he turned over the pages of the review (he had long anticipated what was in it!), after the last page he covered with his hand almost the whole of the last paragraph and left only the last five words visible: “There, read: ‘the article can be published”. Agreed?

Correct what you think necessary, and we shall publish it in the sixth volume “Bayan and Bayan Players”.”

However, with all the good will on my part, Tchaikin’s pointed arrows also contributed to B. Yegorov becoming the new author and A. Sudarikov the new editor of the volume.

One must be fair to Tchaikin. His exact analysis objected to a number of inaccuracies and mistakes, over which a kind reviewer would have passed lightly or not even have noticed. Therein lies the fascination and benefit of a rigorous review.

The German translation of this article came from Dr Herbert Scheibenreif and is authorised by Friedrich Lips. The English translation by Barbarta Harrison comes from Dr. Scheibenreif’s German version with the author’s permission.