|Born in Tbilisi on 10
August 1935, Giya Kancheli is Georgia's most
distinguished living composer and a leading figure in the world of
contemporary music. Kancheli's scores, deeply spiritual in nature, are
filled with haunting aural images, varied colors and textures, sharp
contrasts and shattering climaxes. His music draws inspiration from
Georgian folklore and sings with a heartfelt, yet refined emotion; it
is conceived dramaturgically with a strong linear flow and an expansive
sense of musical time. A man of uncompromising artistic integrity,
Kancheli has been called by Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin, "an
ascetic with the temperament of a maximalist -- a restrained Vesuvius."
as a composer of symphonies and other large-scale works, Kancheli has
written seven symphonies and a "liturgy" for viola and orchestra, Mourned
by the Wind. His Fourth Symphony ("In Memoria di Michelangelo")
received its American premiere with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Yury
Temirkanov conducting, in January 1978, shortly before the cultural
freeze in the United States against Soviet artists. The advent of
glasnost brought growing exposure for and recognition of Kancheli's
distinctive musical voice, leading to prestigious commissions and
increasingly frequent performances in Europe and America. Dennis
Russell Davies, Jansug Kakhidze, Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Kim
Kashkashian, Mstislav Rostropovich and the Kronos Quartet are among his
passionate champions. In recent seasons, world premieres of specially
commissioned works have taken place in Seattle (Piano Quartet in
L'istesso Tempo by the Bridge Ensemble, 1998) and New York (And
Farewell Goes Out Sighing...
for violin, countertenor and orchestra by the New York Philharmonic
under Kurt Masur, 1999). North American premieres of major scores by
Kancheli have been presented by the Philadelphia and Chicago Symphony
Orchestras and at the Vancouver International New Music Festival. In
May 2002, he returned to these shores for the eagerly awaited premiere
performances of Don't Grieve, a commission by the San Francisco
Symphony for baritone and orchestra, with Dmitri Hvorostovsky as
soloist and Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.
This interview was recorded on the telephone
on February 27, 1995. The translation was provided by the
daughter. Portions (along with recordings) were
broadcast on WNIB later that year and in 2000. The
transcription was made and posted on this website early in
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award-winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.