|In the autumn of 1943 I was admitted to the Moscow
Conservatoire Theory and Composition Department, and Shura, as we called
Lokshin, became our lecturer in score reading. He had just been reinstated
to the Conservatoire - apparently, owing to the efforts of his teacher N.Myaskovsky,
the most noble man and a wise teacher, who enjoyed universal respect. (Myaskovsky's
music seemed a little boring and old-fashioned to me though). Meanwhile Lokshin
was haunted by the fame of his Les Fleurs du mal - the work because of which
he was denied the Conservatoire diploma.
As for myself, Lokshin attracted me as a brilliant and original personality, not just as an outstanding teacher. Since I was not very good at scores, I often cheated by preparing piano arrangements and playing them from memory. For instance, in order to make no serious mistakes, I learned the Allegretto from Brahms's 3rd Symphony by heart. The tutor was pleased.
But I shall return to the impression, which Lokshin made on us, the students. We perceived something demonic, or better say, Byronic in his appearance. Most girls in our group (and there were hardly any boys at the Conservatoire because of the war) were in love with him. I was already married, I had a child, and therefore my attitude to him was quite impassive.
I must say that Lokshin's association with some of us wasn't limited to the academic field. Thus, he often gave me (and, perhaps, the others as well) the books he was keen on at that time: Antic Hay and Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley, Vouage au bout de la nuit by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (the latter came as a rather unpleasant surprise to me). Those were things completely unknown to the younger people at that time, as they were effectively banned. A certain painful crack was sensible in Shura's character, but he also had stinging irony - the quality he shared with D.Shostakovich. Hence, perhaps, his taste for such peculiar literary works. But, in spite of a certain air of demonism about his looks and behaviour, he didn't decline from engaging in students' parties and jocular performances. I remember him sitting for the whole evening and accompanying one of such improvised shows; he also took part in selecting music for that performance.
I owe to Shura the opportunity of getting to know many compositions, now widely acclaimed, but in the 1940’s all but banned. Thus, once I attended I very secretive performance of the 4th Symphony by Shostakovich played with eight hands on two grand pianos. It was performed by S. Richter, A. Vedernikov, A. Lokshin, and M. Meyerovich. The impressions from that concert have not faded to this day. Owing to Shura and Misha Meyerovich, we had a chance to listen to four-handed piano interpretations of symphonies by Mahler and Brahms rarely played in public in those years. Besides, Shura was the initiator of remarkably interesting gatherings where the audience listened to records. It was during those sessions that I heard brilliant records of /// by Mahler and Daphnis and Chloe by Ravel.
Shura’s favourite composers at that time were Mahler, Ravel, and Brahms, of course. I remember Lokshin’s very acute observation about Brahms usually saving a short but very expressive motif for the coda. Often, listening to Brahms, he hummed in an inspired voice: "Tu-u-u…", and we, the student incidentally coming across a similar intonation immediately recognized it, saying "It’s Shura’s tu-u-u, isn’t it!" At that time I also met Lokshin’s friend Samuil Druzhkin – a violinist and a philosopher who, in my opinion, had a considerable influence on Shura’s personality and his interests.
After leaving the Conservatoire, doing my post-graduate studies, I met Shura rarely and only on private occasions. As far as I remember, It was then, in the end of 1940’s, that he read aloud to the party gathered at the Vedernikovs’ dacha the poetry of Pasternak – Hamlet and There Was a Candle Burning on the Table.
In the 1960-70’s on several occasions I attended concerts, were Shura’s works were performed. I cannot recall, what was actually played, but as compared to Shura’s earlier work, his music appeared to me to be more austere, well-contained, reserved, and noble. It was obvious, that the influence of Mahler, Berg, Brahms, Bach was incarnated in it in a completely original way.
Fortunately, nowadays this composer, once totally denied any kind of public recognition, finally receives a well-deserved praise as the owner of a very big and singular talent.