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He began composing at age 9 and entered the Moscow Conservatory at 15. Later he studied with Tikhon Khrennikov and Lev Ginzburg. He has composed symphonies, symphonic poems, as well as works for chamber orchestra, small ensembles and solo instruments.
Outside his native country he is best known as a composer of music for such films as War and Peace, the 1966–67 film directed by Sergei Bondarchuk, Ivan's Childhood and Andrei Rublev for Andrei Tarkovsky. He has composed for some 40 films in total. Tarkovsky is said to have been so impressed by Ovchinnikov that he stated "I cannot imagine a better composer for myself than Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov."
Ovchinnikov also had a successful career as a touring conductor from the 1970s. He has recorded for Melodiya, the Russian record company. He was also a professor at the University of Kansas from 1990 to 1991.
Ovchinnikov was named a People's Artist of Russia in 1986. For the 60th birthday of Queen Sirikit of Thailand, he was commissioned to compose The Bouquet for the Queen. For that work he was awarded the Order of the White Elephant.
- Official Website of Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov (in English)
- Bio at Onno van Rijen's Soviet Composer's Page
- Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov at the Internet Movie Database
- Tribute at Harvard Film Archive
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