The music of Russian-born/naturalized American citizen Alexander Tcherepnine this week. An historic memorial concert performed in Lausanne, Switzerland by the Basel Radio Symphony conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and featuring a veritable who’s who of soloists and guest conductors, including Alexander’s son Ivan. Solo pianist is Margit Weber and cello solo, the legendary Maurice Gendron. The concert was recording by Swiss Radio and was broadcast in the U.S. on April 4, 1979. Whether this was the actual date or not, most likely it isn’t, and I suspect it’s somewhere in 1978 as it features the world premier of Ivan Tcherepnine’s La va et le Vient, which was completed on September 28, 1977, one day after his fathers death. The orchestra is conducted by Ivan, making this a doubly historic concert.
Alexander Tcherepnine was considered an Avant-Garde composer of his time. Part of a very musical family, Alexander started composing at an early age, as well as being a piano prodigy. His family moved from Russia, first to Tblisi, Georgia and then to Paris in 1921 where Alexander became heavily involved in the then-new music scene. He frequently toured the world as a concert pianist in the 1920s, where he also introduced many of his works to audiences. He toured the U.S. several times in the 1930s and one of his concerts was broadcast nationally over the NBC radio network in the late 1930s. He returned to Paris and was stranded there during the War, which curtailed his activities.
After the War, and now with the addition of his two sons, who were following in his fathers footsteps as composers in their own rights, Tcherepnine visited the U.S. for extended periods of time, starting in 1948. He eventually settled in the U.S. where he became a naturalized citizen in 1964.
This concert celebrated the life and works of Alexander Tcherepnine. And if you aren’t familiar with his work, here’s a great opportunity to become acquainted, especially in this historic setting.
The concert was broadcast over NPR on April 4, 1979 – hosted by Fred Calland as part of his International Concert Hall series.