Evgenia Chigareva
Encounters, Conversations, and Music

I made acquaintance with Alexander Lokshin in 1973, when Sovietskaya Muzyka magazine commissioned me to write an article about him. Being virtually unable to find any scores or records of his music at the Conservatoire or the Composers Union, I came to his house and immediately found myself in a wonderful world. There was a man in front of me not just highly cultured, but one of the supreme spiritual nature, one whose entire life was music and in music. He was a magician, a wizard who mastered the miraculous world of sounds! The whole world for him was Music; the beauty and the deeper sadness of life, its ultimate reason, disclosed to the composer, shined through his work.
    Every visit to the Lokshin's house was a jubilation for me. All the worries, afflictions and the hurriedness of life used to stay outside, behind the door. "Well, what shall we listen to?" Alexander Lazarevich asked, with enigmatic smile on his face, every time he met me, having had already prepared new records, which he wanted to present to his guests. In his room, on a small low table there would be another volume with a bookmark – something he was reading, quite often looking for the text for a new composition he was conceiving. Once Alexander Lazarevich turned on the machinery, the sacramental ritual began. The music playing was that of his favourite composers: Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, Berg, and Shostakovich. While listening to the music, Alexander Lazarevich would become engaged in the process, completely taken up by the music, making inspired movements as if he was conducting it, and in fact, he was all radiance. At that he sometimes made different remarks – rapturous, approving, or even critical, since he was no alien to that "world of the great"! It was extremely exiting to listen to him, and to watch him at such moments – the scores of the music played could be read from his expressive face and gestures, as if he turned into music himself.
    Sometimes there was a surprise awaiting us: Alexander Lazarevich put on the music-stand the score  he had just finished, and played his new music, which so far had never been played, nor known to anybody – in that instant we felt like some kind of initiates! Lokshin mastered the piano perfectly. He made the instrument sound like an orchestra – his astonishing orchestra of many colours and melodies. Since the later orchestral work of Alexander Lokshin almost always included vocal parts, he sang as well. And though there was nothing special about his vocal qualities (he had a typical "composer's voice"), he somehow managed to bring alive the sound of both leading singers and choir. The impression afforded by the authorial performances was quite often in no way inferior to that from the concerts (and, perhaps, in some respects it was even stronger!). Then suddenly the evening was over. And the kind hostess - Tatiana Borisovna would keep us for dinner, and at the table Alexander Lazarevich told stories – in his witty, colourful, dashing manner!
    It was a wonderful, unforgettable time, and I am happy it all has fallen to my lot.

In the years when I came to know him, Alexander Lazarevich led an unsociable and secluded life, but those who became closer to him and his family, constantly felt almost intimate warmth and touching attention towards them. It was true not only of me, but also Irena Lavrentyeva who died too young. She was a gifted musicologist, and she wrote a wonderful article about Alexander Lokshin. Like me, she was brought to Lokshin's house by her love of his music. A rare person, a remarkable musician, she became very close to Alexander Lazarevich and his wife, they loved her, and they took her death (in 1981) very hard. I remember visiting Lokshin shortly after her death, when sorrowful, distracted Alexander Lazarevich instead of listening to music as usual, began to read from Apollo and Tamara - a story by his favourite Zoschenko. Suddenly his voice started trembling and broke. That day for the first time I heard him asking: "Who is next?" I didn't realize then, that he considered himself to be the next.

I often pondered upon the following question: what made the music of Alexander Lokshin sound in such a peculiar and inimitable way, so "unlike" everything else that could be heard in those years: how did it captivate, take up the audience? For the composer apparently did not resort to any special means, didn't aim at particular originality. How at all did he manage to develop his own genre, to find his own place in the art of music?
    Alexander Lokshin wrote his First Symphony, which can be seen as the starting point of his mature work, in 1957. At that time and later – in the 1960's the musical life of Moscow was rather difficult and discordant. There were two most distinctly seen tendencies – the traditionalist one, based on the classical heritage (T.Khrennikov, G.Sviridov, D.Kabalevsky, A.Khachaturyan), and the younger, more radical wing which was mostly represented by people whose names are now widely known, such as A.Schnitke, E.Denisov, S.Gubaydulina. Of course, the variety of trends was not limited to these two. For instance, it was at that time that the "folklorist wave" made its striking appearance (in that period [it was represented by] R.Schedrin, V.Gavrilin etc.). A prominent role was played by the Leningrad school, e.g. by such composers of the "intermediate" generation as G. Ustvolskaya, S. Slonimsky, B. Tischenko. And finally, we must not forget that Dmitry Shostakovich (who, of course, reconciled both traditionalist and modernist impulses) was still writing music in those years, with his every new composition becoming an important event. But the most visible breakup over the matters of style was between the "traditional" and "radical" trends, which often caused open conflicts. Young composers supporting radical trends in the 1960's were quick to adopt the achievements of the Western avant-garde for the needs of their own creative work. However, some of them soon became dissatisfied with the limitations imposed by new technologies. They set off in search of new means of expressiveness. Then, at the end of the 1960's and at the beginning of the 1970's, the idea of "polystylistics" was born - it operated in different stylistic layers, and afforded extensive opportunities for dramatization. The technique was employed by composers of various stylistic orientations – it was given its due by such masterful composers as B. Chaykovsky (in his Second Symphony), A.Part (Collage on the VASN), R.Schedrin, A.Schnitke, and others. But soon it became obvious that polystylistics is just one of the many possible ways in which the musical material could be organized, and it could not provide a universal solution for all problems. By the second half of the 1970's synthesis of different styles was gradually replacing their juxtaposition. Once again the issue of integrity and unity within the conception of musical piece came into the focus. This gave rise to so called "new simplicity", which, by the way, was associated with neo-romanticism.
    However, the most unusual fact was that Alexander Lokshin to some extent stayed aside of this intense struggle, beyond this turbulent evolution. Having had found constancy of genre and style, he never wondered off the chosen path. He was never interested in the struggle of the parties, what's more - he looked upon them ironically. He was deeply averse to the tendency to make strong emphasis on technicalities, and to evaluate a musical piece depending on the stylistic affinities of its author. The qualities he valued the most were emotional expressiveness, devotion to artistic sincerity, and beauty. There is some evidence that in the course of subsequent development of the Russian music the aesthetic principles professed by A. Lokshin proved to be the most viable and promising.