Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Three Evenings with Alexander Zhurbin: Russian Opera Today
Reserve Your Seat





Please join the Harriman Institute and the Barnard Slavic Department for Three Evenings with Alexander Zhurbin. Moderated by Mark Lipovetsky.

Unlike Tchaikovsky’s, Mussorgsky’s, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas, the contemporary Russophone opera remains relatively obscure for the world much like its American or French counterparts. This is unfortunate since a cohort of avant-garde composers have emerged in the post-Soviet years, and their compositions resonate more strongly with Western audiences, especially as many of them now reside in emigration. Nonetheless, Russian opera theaters continue to stage productions that offer a glimpse into contemporary musical expressions. Noteworthy examples include Desyatnikov’s Rozental’s Children, Shchedrin’s Lolita, Wustin’s Devil in Love,  as well Alexander Zhurbin’s operatic adaptation of Sologub’s Petty Demon. All of these and other operas will be introduced by Zhurbin. This event will feature video presentations of these operas, accompanied by expert commentary from the composer.

Alexander Zhurbin is one of the most important Russian composers of his generation. His music is widely performed all over the former Soviet Union, Europe, Canada and the United States. He composes in a wide range of forms and styles: from symphonies to pop music, from chamber music to “new wave,” from operas and ballets to movie scores and music for the theater. The list of his works is very long (more than 150 titles). He was born in Tashkent, where he graduated Special Music School in 1963. Later he graduated Tashkent Conservatory as a cellist, and Moscow Gnesin Institute as a composer (1969). His teachers there were professors Nikolai Peiko and Aram Khachaturian. After that, he did his postgraduate studies as a musicologist in Leningrad, where Zhurbin completed his Ph.D. dissertation (1973) on Gustav Mahler’s Symphonies. His teachers there were Profs. Sergei Slonimskii, Yuzef Kon, and he also had frequent consultations with Dmitri Shostakovich. His first big success came in 1975 with his rock-opera Orpheus and Eurydice. This work was the first of its kind in the Soviet Union and was a big sensation. It had more than 3 thousand performances in a row, and more than 3 million copies of the record were sold. For this opera, Mr. Zhurbin won many international awards, including “Star of the Year” in Great Britain. He has scored more than 65 feature movies. His 6 operas and 3 ballets were performed in the best National Theaters of Russia  – Leningrad National Opera, Bolshoi theater, (Chamber Stage). All of his 50 musicals are still playing in the former Soviet Union, and some of them have had more than 2,000 performances. He lives with his family in NYC.

Evening One: Meet the Maestro

Evening Three: Russian Musicals