Biography of S.Knushevitsky
Knushevitsky (1907-1963) –is outstanding cellist, ensemble player,
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
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
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
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
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