Eight questions for Elena Firsova

Elena Firsova about music and why she desired to become a composer

Jelena Firsowa at the Schubert Hall at the Vienna Konzerthaus. Foto D. Smirnov

Jelena Firsova was born in St. Petersburg and studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Alexander Pirumov (composition), Yuri Cholopov (analysis) and Nikolai Raskatov (orchestration). From 1975 she was in intensive musical contact with Edison Denisov, who also introduced her to Philipp Herschkowitz, one of the Webern pupils, who emigrated from Moscow to Vienna.

With Denisov and Gubaidullina in Moscow. Foto D. Smirnov

Beginning 1979 her works were first performed with great success in the West. In the same year, she and her husband, the composer Dmitri Smirnov, were attacked by the Soviet Composers Union as “not Soviet-worthy”. In 1990, together with Edison Denisov, she co-founded the Beginning 1979 her works were first performed with great success in the West. In the same year, she and her husband, the composer Dmitri Smirnov, were attacked by the Soviet Composers Union as “not Soviet-worthy”. In 1990, together with Edison Denisov, she co-founded the Russian Society for New Music (ASM). In the course of the Perestroika, Elena Firsova first received permission to travel abroad and moved to England in 1991, where she lives with her family and works as a lecturer and freelance composer.

Firsova is a master of the contemporary compositional techniques, and her compositional language is by no means one- sidedly oriented in style and expression. She further develops the ideas of the Second Viennese School and attaches particular importance to melodic motifs. To date has created more than 100 works, including operas, cantatas, concerts, orchestral works, as well as chamber music. She received a composition commission for the Expo 2000. Her “Akhmatova Requiem” was premiered on September 2003 at the Berliner Konzerthaus am Gendarmenmarkt. Her vocal works enjoy a flourishing performing activities. One of the upcoming performances will include the first German performance of her song “Here is the wind” as the part of the “In the Cube” that will take place on Friday, September 6th and Saturday, September 7th, in the ROXY performing venue, in Ulm, Germany.

Text sources: Sikorski and Boosey & Hawkes. Foto: February 1989 with Sofia Gubaidulina, Edison Denisov, and Dmitri Smirnov. Photo D. Smirnov.

Eight Questions for Elena Firsova

Interview done by Oxana Arkaeva, August 2019

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