Alexi Matchavariani, Peoples Artist of the USSR, a winner of the USSR State Prize and Shota Rustaveli Prize of the Georgian Republic, winner of the Golden Medal of <Centro Cultural Braidense> in Milano for the music of Othello, Professor, was born in the town of Gori in Eastern Georgia. He studied violin and piano...
The most eminent composer, People's Artist of the USSR, a winner of the USSR State Prize and Shota Rustaveli Prize of Georgia, Golden Medal winner of “Centro Cultural Braidense – Milano” for ballet "Othello", Professor, winner of many Soviet and International Prizes, Cavalier of many Orders, chairman of the Georgian Union of composers: 1962-1973, since 1979 – member of the board of the Union of Soviet Composers until 1992, a Deputy of the USSR Supreme Council 1962-1970.
A. Matchavariani was born in the town of Gori in Eastern Georgia in a noble family. The folk tunes of his homeland were the first sources of his musical education. Later, at the age of 6, he started his training on piano and violin. After graduating the Tbilisi Conservatory (composition) he completed his postgraduate training in the art of composition as a pupil of Prof. P.B. Ryazanov. Later (in 1961) he became the professor of the Tbilisi State Conservatory, the recommendation for his professorship was written by D. Shostakovich & T. Khrennikov.
In twenty’s and in thirty’s he was many times arrested, but his fate and his music was saving him again and again.
His first success he had with his piano composition “Chorumi” 1937. It was after “Chorumi” when the great Georgian conductor, GMD of the Tbilisi Opera and of the Georgian State Orchestra E. Mikeladze proposed him to write an opera. A. Matchavariani wrote his first opera “Mother and Son” in 1942. Matchavariani’s first big success was the piano concerto 1944, which was first performed in Tbilisi, few months later in Moscow, after in Leningrad, Germany and other places. After writing his first compositions for the orchestra: “Elegy” in 1936, “Scherzo” – 1936, “Mumli Mukhasa” – 1939. A. Matchavariani composes his First Symphony in 4 movements in 1947, which brought him a great success. The symphony was first performed in Tbilisi , Moscow and Leningrad , later in many other cities. The some time together with D. Shostakovich and S. Prokofiev he was accused in “formalism”. After Stalin’s death, the situation has started to change.
The new dimension and sensational success had A. Matchavariani after writing his famous violin concerto in 1949, which was performed in many countries. First performers were M. Weiman ( Leningrad ) and D. Oistrach ( Moscow ). The concerto was recorded a number of times by ”Melodia”, as well by “Columbia Records” in USA .
In 1952 he was again on the Red List to be deported together with his family. His destiny has saved him again.
“The Day of my Homeland” Oratorio was written in 1955. The same year it’s first performance was in Moscow , conducted by A. Gauk, who was the first interpreter of that and some other compositions of A. Matchavariani. The Oratorio became one of the most popular pieces in the USSR and was broadcasted many times on the Soviet Radio, recorded for “Melodia”.
In the period 1940-1955, A. Matchavariani wrote a lot of chamber music for piano, violin, choir and vocal music. Many of these compositions became the jewellery of Georgian and Soviet music.
“<Othello> is a feast of arts“ wrote Mr. Tzarev in Soviet Culture in 1958, Moscow after attending it’s performance at “Bolshoi” theatre. "Othello" was finished in 1957. This ballet brought A. Matchavariani a stunning success in Georgia, in Moscow ("Bolshoi"), in Leningrad (at “Kirov” theater), in many cities of the former USSR, in USA, in Paris, in Japan, in Finland, in Germany, in Romania and many other places. With "Othello", it is the end of one chapter in a musical language of A. Matchavariani and beginning of a new musical expression.
In 1960 he started another big composition, it is “Hamlet”, an opera in two acts. This work continues until 1967. The opera was prohibited by Georgian authority’s.
In 1964 A. Matchavariani has finished “5-Monolognes” for baritone and orchestra, for which he was rewarded with S. Rustaveli Prize. With “5-Momolognes” and with “Hamlet”, A. Matchavariani has started a new musical language and the much more modern way of expressing his musical ideas, together with a new way of designing his score. With symphony №2 he continues his new musical language.1972. The critics have baptized this symphony as a beginning of the PHILOSOPHICAL SYMPHONISM in Georgia .
In 1977 A. Matchavariani wrote probably the most important composition for him. It is ballet “The Knight in the tiger skin”, the poem of the 12-th century of the greatest Georgian poet and philosopher S. Rustaveli, pride of Georgia . It’s first production was in Leningrad , at “Kirov”(Mariisky) theatre, choreographer O. Vinogradov. The “Knight” had a great success in Leningrad (during 7 years) Moscow , USA , Paris , Japan , Tbilisi and many other places.
After writing a number of chamber, choral and vocal music, in 1979 he wrote a musical comedy “The Bug” after V. Mayakovsky. In 1983 Matchavariani has finished №3 and №4 symphonies. №3 Symphony is a composition of a huge power, deep and tender. The critic wrote about it: It is universal and human, cosmic and earthy. №4 symphony “The Youth’s” for strings, percussion, piano, celesta and harp is a sparkling, melodic, lyrical, motor composition with electric dynamism.
After writing the ballet in two acts “The Taming of the shrew” after W. Shakespeare in 1984, he continues the line of the symphony №3 and in 1986 he writes a stunning №5 symphony “Ushba”. 46 minute symphony in two parts (without interval) is a huge universal power, like a philosophical treaty. Matchavariani is using 8:horns, 4:trumpets, 4:trombones, 2:tubas, 70:strings, a huge orchestra. He is using 8 horns and 4 trumpets already in №3 symphony, but in №5 symphony Matchavariani is using around 115 musicians.
Immediacy after “Ushba” he writes his symphony №6 “Amirani”(Prometheus) 1987 which continues the line of №5 symphony and is a beginning of the third chapter of a new musical language.
In 1987 he writes as well a cello concerto, for strings, harp and cello, in 3 movements.
Next composition is a Symphony №7 “Gelati”(1989) for the choir and orchestra, after the poems of the king David the constructor of Georgia, opera “Medea” in 2 acts (1991) and ballet “Pirosmani”(1992) in 2 acts , which has not been performed yet, it way not performed as well the ballet "Taming of the Shrew".
These compositions have not been performed because A. Matchavariani often was not in favor of Georgian authorities, because of telling always the truth.
A. Matchavariani wrote 4 string quartets, two piano sonatas, violin sonata, many compositions for piano, violin, cello, choir, vocal, music for theatre and cinema. The film “The secret of two oceans” were he wrote the music was rewarded at Venice film festival. His music was recorded on “Melodia”, “Columbia Records” and other companies, as well for Radio and TV.
A. Matchavariani wrote as well a lot of poems and philosophical treaties, his thoughts about music.
He was a giving, deep, optimistic, highly spiritual person and a big humanist.
People like D. Shostakovich, A. Khachaturian, K. Karaev, M. Rostropovich, D. Oistach, I. Stern, S. Richter, J. Temirkanov, J. Grigorovich, S. Virsaladze, V. Tchabukiani, O. Vinogradov, V. Gergiev, A. Toradze, L. Isakadze, P. Burchuladze and many other musicians and artist were visiting his house.
A. Matchavariani has died on the 31 of December 1995, the newspaper “Kultura” in Moscow wrote few days after: “Your countenance is excellent – in all of composition, in all of pages of symphony’s, operas, ballet scores; in each phrase, line, note, of vocal and instrumental music… Alexei Matchavariani – friend and a hero of the row of materials at our newspaper. Editorial office of “Kultura”. Moscow , 13-01-96.”.