Alexey Lvovlch Larin, Honoured Arts Worker of Russia, prize-winner of several international composersí competitions (Musica Mundi, Germany, 1997; "Classical Heritage", Russia, 1999; Jihlava, Czechia, 2000; Klang der Welt, Germany, 2007), was born in 1954 in Saratov. Graduated from the Moscow Choral School for Boys (1971), Gnesinsí Musical Pedagogical Institute (GMPI, 1976, composition class of N. Peyko), postgraduate courses at GMPI (1979). Now he is Professor of the latter institution, renamed Russian Gnesinsí Academy of Music, and Honorary Visiting Professor of Korea University (Seoul).
The scope of A. Larin's work is large. He is author of ballet "Gulliver in Liliput", symphonic and vocal-symphonic scores (Symphony, suite "A Summer in Mitrofanovo Village", tableau "The Birth of the City", poem "White Shrine", "Eulogy to the Academy", etc), choral compositions (oratorio "Russian Passion", eight cantatas, choral concertos and cycles), compositions for Russian folk orchestra ("Till the Third Cock-Crow", Concerto-Bylina, etc) and for wind band (Fantasia Rustica), chamber compositions, works for children, music for movies.
Alexey Larin participates in the performances of his own music as pianist, organist, conductor and member of a chorus. His works appear in the concert programs of such renowned performers as V. Fedoseev, V. Dudarova, A. Vedernikov, K. Orbelian, V. Pon'kin, M. Rachlevsky , B. Ungrangsee, V. Minin, L. Litsova, G. Dmitryak, V. Sudakov, N. Nekrasov, N. Kalinin, R. Holl, V. Matorin, F. Lips, N. Babkina and many others.
OPUS DISSONUS - What was your first contact with the art of composing? What motivated you to start?
ALEXEY LARIN - First of all, I would like to consider a couple bright impressions of my childhood: the railway, andÖ strange as it may seemÖ newspapers, which I liked to tear. When you mention it at the conscious age, you understand that both occurrences are connected with sound. On the other hand, I doubt whether it is necessary to draw far-reaching conclusions. Besides that, I remember that feeling of rapture, which came after the first acquaintances with the music of Mozart, Rossini and Beethoven... I suppose, most likely, my earliest own music came to me at the piano, which had appeared in the house. Perhaps, there were the sounds appearing in my fingers. Although, I hope that those movements of fingers were not quite casual.
OPUS DISSONUS - How does your compositional process works?
ALEXEY LARIN - My compositional process can be different. Sometimes it begins with the consideration of the plan and structure in general, forming the contours of the whole piece; however, I usually prefer to start composing with small and specific elements: an intonation grain, a rhythmical impulse.
OPUS DISSONUS - Which ones of your works may, in your own view, be regarded as "introductory" or "obligatory" for those who want to know more about your compositions?
ALEXEY LARIN - The author can make a mistake, but the most significant musical works for me imply the participation of chorus. Thus, the compositions, which I would underline, are cantata "Christmas Carols", oratorio "Russian Passion" and vocal-symphonic poem "White Shrine".
OPUS DISSONUS - How would you describe your own style of composing?
ALEXEY LARIN - Little by little, the approach to creation of music became more rational. For example, the application of computer is conducive to that. However, it still stays primary for me, that music would provoke emotions, would carry away and in the ideality, it would charm the listeners.
OPUS DISSONUS - Who are the composers who have had the greatest influence on your work, from the earliest compositions to the present?
ALEXEY LARIN - As time goes on, and as you continue the development in your kindred sphere, you feel an enormous distance between the Classical music and by that you are trying to do more clearly. You also realize what colossal, tremendous, emotional, ethical and professional power is put into the Classical music. But in the music of the 20th century, the composer number one for me is Igor Stravinsky.
OPUS DISSONUS - You mention in your Biography you had composition classes with Professor Nikolay Peiko, how was this contact with him?
ALEXEY LARIN - I have already mentioned about the lessons with Nikolay Peiko in "Musical Academy" magazine (# 2, 1996) as well as in the book "Will Kitezh City Rise to the Surface? (Materials to the creative biography of Alexey Larin)" (2009). As a teacher, Peiko often suggested his own possible musical ideas and solutions. But at the same time, his students had to be acquainted with the analogues of the basic compositions of the Classical period in detail, and especially with the musical examples of the 20th century. And the similar method of education was also typical for Nikolay Myaskovsky, Peikoís teacher. The most significant moment, which was possible to observe on Peikoís example, was his highest level of professionalism and culture, which is indispensable for each outstanding musician.
OPUS DISSONUS - You have dedicated yourself to compose, among other things, works for Choir like your "Christmas Carols" and "Russian Passion". Is there a religious motivation for these works or is it just your preference when composing?
ALEXEY LARIN - Those compositions are intended for the concert performance and not for the church one. But in my point of view, it is possible to start working with such sort of subjects only with the presence of faith.
OPUS DISSONUS - You wrote several pieces for Russian folk instruments, tell us about how started this interest.
ALEXEY LARIN - Gnessinís Academy of Music, where I studied and where I am teaching right now, has a remarkable department of the folk instruments. Unfortunately, the music repertoire, which includes the folk instruments, is rather limited. Thatís why the folk performers show their interest in the contemporary music. That evokes the response among the composers, impels them to look for new tone colors and different devices. Thus, for the first time in the music for Russian folk instruments, I employed aleatory (random structures), the adaptation for the stage, the elements of minimalism and other modern methods.
OPUS DISSONUS - How much the old Russian folk music influenced in your work?
ALEXEY LARIN - The feeling of the native land unites a great number of Russian composers starting from Glinka to our time. The folklore was and always remains for me as one of the highest ethical and aesthetic tuning-forks. I mean not only Russian one, but the folklore of many other countries as well.
OPUS DISSONUS - You had also composed music for Children. How is the teaching work in Russia nowadays?
ALEXEY LARIN - Yes, I have composed several choral cycles, a number of vocal and instrumental pieces for children. For a long time, I am working only with grown-up children, who are the students of the Special Music Schools. If judge from how the best children's choruses from different regions of Russia sing or from how young musicians play piano or other instruments, we have numerous outstanding teachers and talented children.
OPUS DISSONUS - What are your projects for the future?
ALEXEY LARIN - Well, I have many different thoughts, but let me keep a secret about the compositions, which are not completed yet. There is one popular Russian saying: "Do not divide the skin of a not killed bear".
OPUS DISSONUS - In your opinion, what can we expect for the future of classical music?
ALEXEY LARIN - Generally, to make the forecasts is a thankless task; even famous people can often make mistakes. But I suppose that the music of the 21th century will be absolutely diverse. In my opinion, our future will be based on the individual music styles. I think that the central criterion of the estimation of different musical phenomena will be connected with up to now actual understanding of art (as a method of people communication). Thus, while the creativity will be developed this way and while someone will share his innermost ideas with others, such creation will be possible to consider as an art.
OPUS DISSONUS - What are your impressions of the youngest generation of composers? Do you know them?
ALEXEY LARIN - Yes, of course. As a teacher, I know the music of numerous students. During the last years, as the one of the judges at several composition contests (including the international competitions); I was acquainted with a great amount of the contemporary pieces. Perhaps, my most important conclusion is that Russia, together with other countries, gives rise to many talented musicians!
OPUS DISSONUS - What words would you say to an aspiring composer?
ALEXEY LARIN - There is one eastern story. One hundred people are looking for a diamond. Only one of them becomes lucky and finds it. But it may seem that other ninety-nine persons lost their time. On the other hand, being along (without the help of other people), that successful man could spend all his life looking for the same diamond. Thatís why to be included into the number of those ninety-nine persons was not a senseless affair.
OPUS DISSONUS - Final words
ALEXEY LARIN - Many years ago, I was out of town and decided to ask a local inhabitant if that was a good time to pick berries and mushrooms in the forest. She replied that the weather was windy and crazy, and many trees were on the ground and started to cry. Then I have thought that we, who always live in the big cities, are accustomed to the news about wars, accidents, etc. We get to know that almost every day! But if you feel yourself as a component part of nature, your treatment of people becomes more careful.