Honoured Artist of the Russia (1984), Winner of the Glinka State Award
(1987), Professor (1989), Academician of the Petrovskaya Academy of Arts and
Sciences, Winner of the RAO Award (2003), Winner
of the Russian Prize "Soul of the Dance" (2005).
In 1967 he graduated from the A.I. Khachaturyan's
class of the Moscow Conservatoire, in 1969 he finished the post-graduate
studies under the same professor. Since 1967 he was an editor in the
"Soviet Composer" Publishing House (editing
department for symphonic music), in 1969-1975 he was teaching
instrumentation in the Gnesins' State
Musical Pedagogical Institute. In 1970-1978 he was teaching
composition in the Moscow Conservatoire, and
since 1978 to 1988 reading symphony
score and instrumentation. Since 1988 up till now he is the Head of the
Composition and Instrumentation Department at the Gnesins' Russian Academy
Tale" (1972; 2 version 1975), "Our Gaydar" (1978), "Live
and Remember" (based on V. Rasputin's short novel, 1980; chamber version
1984), "Bagpiper from Strakonits" (1984), "Tyerkin,
Tyerkin..." (1985), "Hagiography of Lieutenant Soshnin" (1987),
Zhivago" (1994), “Carmen” (2008)
(with 2 bayans, 1965), 2 symphonies (with mezzo-soprano, 1969; in memory of N.
Myaskovsky, 1971), 2 concertos for an orchestra ("Andrey Rublyev"
with solo for the quintet of wind instruments, 1970; concerto for the great
symphonic orchestra with a bass-guitar, 1975) Concertos:
bayan and a small symphonic orchestra (1972); for a mezzo-soprano and a cello
and an orchestra (1973); for a quartet of harps, a flute, an oboe and a string
"My Ouiet Motherland" (1984); "Song" (1985); "Visions
on the Hill" (1986); mystery-play "Habakkuk" (1992); cantata
"On the Seven Hills" (1995); choruses based on the Russian Orthodox
canonic texts (1987-2005); different works for female and mixed chorus.
for a violin and a piano (1969); "Vladimirsky Triptych" (1971);
Sonata-diptych for a cello and an organ (1972); Concertino for a bassoon and a
piano (1974), Suite "Russian Cities" for a harp quartet (1975);
Quintet for the woodwinds and a French horn (1977), Poem-picture for a cello
and a piano (1984); "Stichera of Ivan the Terrible" for a cello and a
bayan (1987), suite "Florence" for a mandolin and a guitar (1995),
Quartet for 4 cellos (1996), "Pskov suite" for a balalayka and a
piano (1996), Sonata for a cello and an organ (1998); 4 sonatas and sonatinas
for a piano, 3 sonatas for an organ, 3 sonatas for a bayan - and many different
works for academy and folk instruments.
Orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments (ORFI):
"Ladoga" for ORFI and a mezzo-soprano (1968); Suite "Swan
Gliding Over Waters" (1973); “Three Russian waltzes” and suite “Houses of
as: pieces for different instruments and ensembles; vocal cycles; music for
children; pieces of pedagogical repertoire for different instruments; music
for radio and TV performances; musical scores for drama theatres and films
Volkov about the Teacher "The most striking example of a
genius musician of the Armenian nation was represented by my teacher—Aram
Ilyich Khachaturyan—a great son of his mother-land Armenia, citizen of our country, a
man of the world at all times.
Teaching us creative composition he led each of us along his own
specific path, showing how to beat such path in the thicket of tendencies,
trends and influences, guessing unerringly the nature of a
Japanese Nobuo Terakhara, of a Tadzhik Tolib Shakhidi, or of me—a Russian, a
He taught us never to yield to the temptation of easy success, never to
bustle, never "run in the hope to catch up with the pendulum of the
Time", but to dig and dig again in the search of precious fountain springs
of water of life. When I, being in the second year of my studies, suffered a
serious creative crisis, it was Aram Ilyich who advised me to turn to the
folklore of the Russian North. I presume he understood me better than I did
Since that moment everything became full of sense for me—the sources,
the lessons and the goals merged into a unity—and I started walking along my
own musical path. I am still beating the same path".
Khachaturyan about Kirill Volkov
Volkov. He is very Russian, very modern, very much a folk composer..."
is one of those who are to take upon their shoulders the burden of caring about
the future fate of the Soviet music..."
will come the day when the range of the Russian composers will read like this:
Mussorgsky, Stravinsky, Volkov..."
The start of the theme
year when he finished his postgraduate studies, Volkov created the first two
of his significant compositions: opera "Peasants' Tale" and the
First symphony that became sort of landmarks, marking the "length" of
the range of the composer's vision. The theme of the Russian countryside is
reflected both in the opera and in the symphony by means of the image of a
Russian woman that symbolizes patience and self-sacrificing love.
Turn of the Theme Among the most significant works of the
instrumental opuses by Volkov are the concert-pictures "Andrey
Rublyev" (1970), "Vladimirsky Triptych", the Suite for four
harps "Russian Cities" (1975). It would be unwise to search these
works for the program subject-matter declarations. One can rather found there a
very specific state, mood, associated with the architecture of an ancient
Russian city, with the harmony of church domes, the ancient frescos.
bell-sound phonics, holiday chords of the gusli, the sound form of several
themes, resembling canticles of the Znamenny chant resurrect the traditions of
N. Rimsky-Korsakov and M. Mussorgsky.
In his heartfelt cantatas for chorus without accompaniment "My
Quiet Motherland" written on the verses by N. Rubtsov (1984) and
"Song" on the lines from "Song about Igor's Campaign"
(1985) Volkov chooses a highly generalized text with the minimum number of
words, each of which grows up to the scale of a symbol.
In the sphere of chamber opuses the most prominent are the Second
("Chastogovorky" ("Ditties")) and the Third piano sonatas.
Treating piano as an instrument with great percussion possibilities, the
composer offers his own interpretation of the genre of the Siberian
"chastushka". With the help of energetic, hard, tenacious sonorities,
sparkling with cold brilliance of non-pedal timbre, K. Volkov here achieves a
new quality of the piano toccata style.
his best works belong also three sonatas for a bayan, written for the famous
performer Frederick Lips. Kirill Volkov discovers new possibilities of one of
his favorite instruments. In the Second sonata, dedicated to the 600
anniversary of the battle on the Kulikovo Field, the epic theme began to sound
in the pronouncedly chamber, directed not "outside", but
"inside" tone, in a very original "author's" monologue.
The "late" chorus period of Kirill Volkov's work is
characterized by growing interest to organ. "The King of All
Instruments" is interpreted by the composer in its "Russian"
hypostasis, which is not surprising: organ-positive was depicted even in the
frescos of Saint Sophia of Kiev,
and in the 15th century an Italian composer and organist Giovanni Salvatore,
who joined Russian Orthodox Church, became Ivan Spacitelev, a Russian
gentleman. There exists some evidence that he continued to practice music till
the end of his life. These are only two facts, taken at random from the vast
history of organ in Russia.
As Kirill Volkov hopes, this history will be supplemented with one more page:
his own three sonatas for an organ (that have been performed both in Russia and
abroad). At one of the recent international festivals "Moscow Autumn"
there was performed the Sonata for a cello and an organ, which was written at
request of David Geringas, a famous cellist and M. Rostropovich's student.
In the opera "Live and Remember" the theme of the Great
Patriotic War of 1941-1945 is interpreted in a chamber key. In the short novel
by Valentin Rasputin there are no battle scenes or enemy shots—there are human
fates twisted by war. Only one episode, an particular
of one peasant family, that got lost in the outback of a small Siberian
village, grows up to the level of a people's tragedy. The theme appears in the
same way in the musical interpretation by Kirill Volkov.
Opera "Live and Remember" was staged at the Moscow Chamber
Musical Theatre in 1984, as well as in Dessau
and Dresden in
1988, and brought its creator great success.
Opera «Live and Remember" was followed by "Tyerkin, Tyerkin...»
K. Volkov says about it: "The accordion playing, and the granddad
with his fiddle, and folksongs—all these are voices of the "small
Motherland", of the forefather’s hearth. The theme of bonds that tie man
to them is very important for Tvardovsky... I've tried to keep in my opera this
very lyrical tone, this "warmth of the patriotism", as Leo Tolstoy
put it that colours the Tvardovsky's poem".
Kirill Volkov selected from this ancient Russian epic masterpiece the
"clamps" of meaning (D. Likhachev's term), in which every word is
brimming with the energy of meaning. These are the symbols of the sun, the
daybreak, of the Russian land, of birds, trees, grass, sea, clouds, darkness
and thunderstorm. The nature appears like a second Scripture here, like a new
Revelation. And indeed, everything in the selected text acquires symbolic
meaning, becomes the symbol of this or that sign: the battle is compared to a
thunderstorm; arrows—to rain, a bird and a tree are associated with sorrow.
of a man in the "Song" is in harmony with the bottomless polyphony of
the earth, that allows one to hear things hidden behind the words, where a word
is just nourishment for the silent work of the mind. Kirill Volkov attempted to
comprehend the very essence of the phenomena of the reality, to discover the
mysteries of the universal notions: Life—Death—Immortality-Love—Creative work.
The fact, that Moscow
composer Kirill Volkov was awarded the "Soul of the Dance" prize for
the best ballet music was an outstanding event. His score is woven from sparks
and flame of the spiritual burning of the creator that
gave birth to a piece of momentously-monumental art of ballet.
To comprehend the significance of the romance "The Candle Was
Burning on the Table..." that is being performed while the public is only
taking seats in the hall. This romance permeates the whole score of the ballet
as the theme of creative work and love. It is as simple and sincere as a song.
Anybody can sing it (what happens rarely with modern music). But indeed the
music of this ballet is saturated with pure, extracted from everyday life and
real history genres: the waltz element, inherently connected with the
three-pace rhythm of Pasternak's poetry (noted by A. Voznesensky), the
black-earth "Siberian" choruses, eruption of which mark the turning-points
of the story (the composer says that he had an intention to continue here the
tradition of "Khovancshina" by Mussorgsky), the famous chant,
quotation "Let be reposed with the holy", Christmas carol
"Angels in Heaven", remarkable for its origin (this religious text
was sung by the Russian nuns to the folk tune "Little Quail").
During the last two decades in the midst of our spiritual music a genre
of musical hagiography was being formed. The mystery play of fifteen parts
"Habakkuk" (1990) by K. Volkov turned out to be the greatest opus of
this genre among those written in the end of the 80ies—beginning of the 90ies.
Based on the texts of the "Hagiography of the Arch-priest Habakkuk"
(17th century), this opus is the first musical version of Habakkuk's hagiography,
analogous to one that in modern literature is represented by the short novel
by D. Zhukov. Turning to the images of the Old-Believers is an old tradition
for Russian art. This theme had been worked over by many Russian writers,
painters and composers.
“And if Aram Ilyich Khachaturyan once called me (says K.Volkov) a
musical grandson of N. Myaskovsky" (his
Teacher), then I am happy that my son opened up for public, as conductor, a
whole series of chorus opuses both by Khachaturyan, Myaskovsky, and Prokofiev.
That means that the live thread of times goes on stretching out into the