The main page

Biography of  S.Knushevitsky  

 N. Knushevitsky (1907-1963) –is outstanding cellist, ensemble player, teacher, professor of the Moscow Conservatory. For three decades, he was considered to be the "leader" of the Soviet Cello School. It is hard to overestimate the achievements of the musician in the Chamber Ensemble Art as well. Suffice it to recall his performances with the world famous trio - Lev Oborin, David Oistrakh and Sviatoslav KnushevitskySvyatoslav. 
Sviatoslav Knushevitsky was born in Saratov. The heart of his father, Nickolay Knushevitsky, belonged to music, though he was a lawyer. He played violin, viola and became the first teacher of their children.

In 1922, fifteen year of age, S.Knushevitsky came to Moscow and entered the Moscow Conservatory , cello class of Professor Kozolupov. The rich artistic atmosphere in the class of S. Kozolupov, erudition, authority and skill of the Professor, played a decisive role in shaping the artistic individuality of young musicians. Knushevitsky was also attracted by chamber ensemble music. "Magnetic field" of the Moscow Conservatory attracted Knushevitsky to orchestra class.  In 1928, S.Knushevitsky joined the All-Union Radio Orchestra. And since autumn of 1929 he was concertmaster of the famed Bolshoi Theater Orchestra. 
The sound of S.Kneshevitsky’s cello was heard in duet with the great singer Leonid Sobinov. 
The turning point in Knushevitsky’s life was the victory at the First in USSR - All-Union Musicians Competition in 1933. The sound quality of his execution was highly appreciated: "sound quite exceptional, smooth in all registers, full, light and airy." 
In autumn of 1941 the newly arranged trio of Lev Oborin, David Oistrakh and Sviatoslav Knushevitsky first performed on radio. 
Extremely compelling combination of poetry and intelligence, lyrical view of life and rational thinking of Lev Oborin, David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Knushevitsky merged into one unity. "The Soul of Svet (Knushevitsky) was chamber music. Cello in his hands  produced a variety of colors. It did not only sang, but was fervently, passionately telling, "- said David Oistrakh. 
In the last days of the Second World War, Oborin, Oistrakh and Knushevitsky first performed Trio "To the Memory of Sollertinski.", comp. 67, by D.Shostakovich . The explosive passion of feelings, naked pain for the human sufferings in the musicians’ performance of music by Shostakovish can only be compared with the canvas of "Guernica” by Pablo Picasso.” Trio was performed with the participation of Dmitri Shostakovich as well.The musicians were on tour abroad with great success in the 1950s - 1960s. The trio was recognized as "one of the finest chamber ensembles in the world."
However, Knushevitsky’s solo performing activity grew more intense with every year. Knushevitsky’s repertory was enriched with new works. For the two years (1942-1944) he performed many compositions for the first time on concert stage, among them the Second Concerto by G.Gamburg, Concerto by V.Vasilenko, Concert Suite by V.Kochetov, pieces by N. Rakov, V.Gaygerova. Most of them were dedicated to Svyatoslav Knushevitsky.
The success of the Concerto by N.Myaskovsky in the interpretation of Knushevitsky gave impetus for creation of Cello Concerto by Aram Khachaturian. On October 30, 1946 the music was first performed by Knushevitsky and USSR State Symphony Orchestra under the baton of A.Gauk in the Great Hall of the Conservatory. It was highly welcomed by music public, and Concerto by Khachaturian has become one of the leading works in the cello repertoire.

The second half of the 40s is considered as a "climax" of artistic activity of S.Knushevitsky. The musician was first to play Concertos of Vladimir Vasilenko, G.Gamburg (¹ 2), R. Glier, D.Kabalevsky, Sonatas by D.Shostakovich, G. Kirkor and V.Nechaev. D.Shostakovich highly appreciated musician’s activity and considered it as "an example of chivalry attitude to the work of Soviet composers."
Not always Knushevitsky performed with equal vigor and perfection. There were failures in the art of musician – romantic artist. But when inspired, Knushevitsky reached such heights of artistic vision, which only minions of Music can only reach.
The intense concert activity, participation in the trio (which he valued most) and, of course, teaching forced the artist to leave the Bolshoi Theater.
Svyatoslav Knushevitsky teaching activity was linked with the Moscow Conservatory and Moscow Gnesins Musical Institute. Sviatoslav Knushevitsky replaced his teacher - Semion Kozolupov as a head of the Cello and Double Bass Chair of the Moscow Conservatory. The main criteria in teaching methods of Knushevitsky was to train pupils to be independent. He taught them to find their own way in music. Among his students are winners of International Competitions Eugene Altman, Michael Khomitser, Igor Gavrysh. In the beginning of 1961, Pablo Casals Music Festival was held in Mexico. Knushevitsky
happened to not only listen to the performance of "the great Pablo," but also to play for him, feeling the emotional and professional sympathy of Maestro. And it was perfectly fine to assert fame of Russian Cello School in a noble competition with fellow cellists (Eisenberg, Casado, Nelsova, Rose, Sadlo, Janigro). Interest and even excitement preceded each performance of the Russian musician. The Mexican press called him "the best bow of the festival, Russian Pablo Casals."
Sviatoslav Knushevitsky and National Symphony Orchestra performed compositions by Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Myaskovsky, Khachaturian. Sonatas by Chopin and Prokofiev, music by Russian composers, were executed by Knushevitsky and pianist Alexey Zybtsev.
Knushevitsky enjoyed contacts with the great Spanish cellist Gaspar Casado. The both great artists felt special emotional attraction to each other. They were poets of Cello, whose performing art was distinguished for lyricism and passion of artistic search. The both Maestros were linked with friendship based on admiration of each other performing art. The name of Sviatoslav Knushevitsky is related to the best achievements of Russian and Soviet Performing Art. His love of life, personal charm, kindness lay at the heart of the poetics of his musical language, the unique beauty of the sound of his instrument.

Biography of Knushevitsky

Competition Rules

Information

Contacts

Russian