Ukrainian composer Valentyn Silvestrov has been awarded the Gold Gloria Artis medal, the highest honour in the arts in Poland. The award was presented on Thursday by Deputy Minister of Culture Jarosław Sellin during a concert held as part of the Fourth International Festival of Central and Eastern European Music Eufonie.
The deputy culture minister said that Valentyn Silvestrov was taught by master composers Boris Lyatoshinsky and Levko Revutsky. “Valentyn Silvestrov is considered by many critics and musicologists to be the most outstanding living Ukrainian composer and one of the world’s greatest composers. This is what other eminent composers such as Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt also say about him,” Minister Sellin emphasised in his speech.
He pointed out that the Ukrainian composer created his own music style, which has changed over the years. “In his musical path, he is consistent and independent, regardless of the consequences. He paid for this, among other things, with expulsion from the Union of Soviet Composers and harassment. For many years, under Soviet rule, his works were not publicly presented in his homeland… Today, many of Silvestrov’s compositions are performed by the world’s leading orchestras and soloists,” Jarosław Sellin said.
“From the beginning, Silvestrov’s music has also been a strong point of our Eufonie Festival, and today we will take part in the first performance, outside Ukraine, of his Eighth Symphony. For all these extraordinary works, we thank the maestro wholeheartedly,” he said.
“We are proud that the maestro is with us today, and I am pleased to personally present the highest honour available at the Culture and National Heritage Ministry to the masterful Silvestrov,” Sellin added.
Valentyn Silvestrov was born in Kyiv in 1937. He graduated from the Institute of Civil Engineering and then entered the Kyiv Conservatory of Music in 1958. He studied in the composition class of Boris Lyatoshinsky and was taught harmony by Levko Revutsky. At the beginning of his career, he was considered an avant-garde artist.
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He was expelled from the Union of Soviet Composers because of his protests following the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops. Later on, Silvestrov received a commission from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation that led to the composition “Eschatophonie”, which premiered in Darmstadt in 1968 under the direction of Bruno Maderna. In the 1970s, the composer began to move away from avant-garde means of expression and turned towards tonality.
Silvestrov’s music has been performed four times at the “Warsaw Autumn” contemporary music festival. And in 2019, his “Hymn 2001” was performed by the Aukso orchestra at the Eufonie Festival. On October 9, 2022, he was awarded the prestigious Opus Klassik Award for his lifetime achievements.
Eufonie International Music Festival of Central-Eastern Europe, organised by the Polish Culture Ministry, aims “to popularize the cultural heritage of most countries known today as Central and Eastern Europe,” the official website of the festival states.
“The unique features of the Eufonie Festival are, on the one hand, drawing from tradition and, on the other hand, presenting completely new, previously undiscovered sounds. The Eufonie Festival features music of different eras and styles,” the website adds.
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