He is the author of music for the first Soviet and Russian musicals (rock-operas) "Star and Death of Joaquin Murrieta" (Звезда и смерть Хоакина Мурьеты, 1976) and "Juno and Avos" (Юнона и Авось, 1981, shown more than 700 times), for numerous plays and operas, for more than 80 Russian movies. More than 10 millions discs with his music have been sold to 1989.
Alexey Rybnikov was born on July 17, 1945. Having come into the world in a family of a violinist and an artist, he was surrounded by art and music from the first days of his life. Alexey composed one of his first works, “The Thief of Baghdad”, being influenced by a very popular at those times trophy film under the same name.
Rybnikov passed exams to the Central Music School at the Moscow Conservatory. The boy’s father introduced his son to Aram Khachaturian, who proposed the boy to study in his class. After finishing the music school in 1962, Rybnikov entered the conservatory where his close contact with the teacher went on. Later Alexey did post-graduate studies under Khachaturian’s supervision as well.
In 1969 Rybnikov was admitted to the Union of Soviet Composers.
After that, during several years Alexey was teaching at the chair of theoretical disciplines and assisted in the class of Khachaturian. But then Alexey left teaching.
During the period of 1960 and 1970s Rybnikov’s creative work was marked by classical symphony traditions. He wrote camera music, concertos for the violin, for the string quartet and orchestra, for the bayan and orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments, “Russian overture” for the symphony orchestra, and many others).
In 2005 Alexey Rybnikov celebrated his 60th Anniversary by a special concert conducted by Mark Gorenstein at Chaikovsky Concert Hall.
Years 2005-2008 were marked by presentations of Children Musicals composed by Alexey Rybnikov - "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Bu-ra-ti-no!" (the Russian fairy tale based upon the Pinocchio story) became the real events in the theater Moscow life not only for children but for their parents as well. Rybnikov's music and starring of famous Russian artists as well as stage direction of Alexander Rikhlov made the shows so popular that at the summer season 2007 "Bu-ra-ti'no!" went on stage 120 times despite the theater "dead season".
On February 29, 2009 a gorgeous first of scenes from Rybnikov's Musical Drama "the Opera House" went on in the legendary fifth studio of Moscow Recording House performed by the orchestra "Molodaya Rossia" conducted by Mark Gorenstein.
In 2009, after an invitation by Pierre Cardin for participation in Lacoste Festival, Alexey Rybnikov created the author version of the "Junona and Avos" rock-opera. The first was really remarkable on July 3, 2009. Since then the new version is performed at the best venues of Russia and abroad, at theaters, concert halls and festivals.
In the autumn 2012, the theater of Alexey Rybnikov presented at the theater venue of Moscow Music Hall the special show including scenes from the most famous theater performances composed by Rybnikov and movie soundtracks. The first became the official presentation of the new work of Rybnokov's musical art - "Live Pictures of the time of Alexander I and Napoleon Bonapart based upon the novel "War and Peace" by the count Lev Tolstoy". In 2013 Rybnikov is planning to produce the whole show as well as the new version of the "Liturgy" and of "Joakine".
The entire life of Alexey Rybnikov is associated with music. But music is not the only field of activity — he has been contributing to some public projects. He takes an active part in the sessions of the Board, promoting cultural and social programs, has found his Theatre.
Rybnikov is a President of the National Festival “The Musical Heart of the Theatre” and Russian Family Festival “Our Buratino”.
Since 1965 Alexey has already started composing movie music and become one of the most famous soviet composers creating music for movies.
A short film “Lelka” by director Pavel Arsenov (1966) was his first experience. The composer’s debut in the new genre appeared to be so successful, that invitations from film directors followed one after another
Since 1979 Rybnikov has been a member of the Union of Cinematographers.
Working over the past four decades in cinematograph Rybnikov has written music for more than 100 films. Despite the huge total number of the movie works, some of them have become important milestones in Rybnikov’s creative work. Among them there are soundtracks to such movies as:
- The Treasure Island (1971) by director Eugene Fridman;
- The Big Space Travel (1974) by director Valentin Selivanov;
- Adventures of Buratino (1975) and “About the Little Red Riding Hood. The Continuation of the Old Fairy Tale” (1977) by director Leonid Nechaev. After showing of the movie about Buratino, a musical album was released. No sooner had the records gone on sale as they were bought in a moment. A million of vinyl discs were sold out for just a year.
- You couldn’t dream of… (1980) by director Ilya Frez;
- That very Munchausen (1981) by Mark Zakharov;
- Hello, can you hear us? (1990) — is a picture by a Latvian director-documentalist Yuri Podnieks. It produced an effect of an exploded bomb with its straightness and the truth about the modern world. The film won the Golden Lion at the festival in Venice in 1991;
- Children from the Abyss (2000) by director Pavel Chukhray.
- Star by director Nikolai Lebedev is the movie that brought to the composer all possible home awards for music in cinema and also the National Prize of the Russian Federation.
- Andersen by Eldar Ryazanov
- Rabbit Over the Abyss by Tigran Keosayan
- TV series The Case of the Dead Souls by Pavel Loungin
- Wolfhound (2006) by Lebedev
- 1612 by Vladimir Khotinenko and others.
Rock-opera “The Star and Death of Joaquin Murieta” with the libretto by Pavel Grushko, telling a story about life, struggle, and death of the legendary Chilean hero became the composition that opened a new — theatrical era in Rybnikov’s life.
“The Star” rose on Lenkom’s stage in 1976. Its director was Mark Zakharov, who had offered this project to Rybnikov. On one hand, musical innovation, strength and conviction of the young composer, his subtle perception of alien melodic culture, and bringing the world of rock-music with its hard rhythms to the home drama (!) stage provoked a prolonged reject from censors (the performance had been banned 11 times for political reasons; finally it was released). On the other hand, it beat all the records of popularity and recognition at once. In 1977 “Melody” record company issued a double album of “The Star and Death” that won the 1st place in a hit parade of the best recordings.
Opera-mystery “Avos” (1979), known to the general public as “Junon” and “Avos”, was his next work. It has united central, basic elements of Rybnikov’s musical mentality — Russian sacred music, national folklore, genres of mass “city” music and figurative, ideological, and aesthetic priorities of the musician — the idea of expiation of sins by the man, his misdeeds and taking a responsibility, salvation in the God’s Love and Remission, consciousness of the Divine Mercy and praising of the Most High.
Originally, the musical sphere was closely connected with the texts from the Orthodox Prayer Book and Psalms. Later, the poem “Avos”, written by a Russian poet Andrey Voznesensky, as well as his lyrics, gave a vigorous emotional stimulus to a musician. Since then libretto of the opera has contained both the holy and secular sources. “Juno and Avos” in Lenkom (premiered in 1981) is different because it hasn’t got quite the same plot. Like the previous performance “The Star and Death of Joaquin Murieta”, “Juno and Avos” by Zakharov was born to become a manifest. It is a proclamation of independent thoughts; it is an original understanding of western standards of rock-opera genre. Zakahrov’s attempt to make the performance with less religious meaning, with more “rock” sound has been better both for the theatre and the play in its new version (not original, not Rybnikov’s one). Though, obviously, it’s another dramatic piece, not the composer’s. The accents have been shifted. In the centre there is no more a suffering man with his confusion, pain, search for himself, his soul; but a love story.
Rybnikov’s third musical-scenic composition — “The Liturgy of the Heathens” was created during almost ten years. It includes lyrics and poems by Renaissance poets, by Russian writers and poets of the Silver Age, prophecy and afflatus about the approaching Doomsday. The opera was staged in a chamber hall of Alexey Rybnikov’s theatre in 1992.
- Fifth Symphony — “The Resurrection of the Dead”. It premiered in spring of 2005.
- Rybnikov creates a picture coming alive in imagination by vocal-symphony means. Successively it throws into desperation (the First part — Resurrection of the Dead, calling them for the Last Judgment), grief (the Second part — mourning over all the killed). In the Third part there is horror in front of the power of the Evil that has been aroused and defeated by the will of the Most High Judge. And the general feeling of the God’s might, thrill, and joy of a premonition of eternal life at the same time is in the Fourth part.
- Concerto grosso for soloists and chamber orchestra — “L’Oiseau bleu” and “The Northern Sphinx”, both recorded and performed by famous musicians. The first piece was written under the impression of the plays by Maeterlinck — “L’Oiseau Bleu” and “Les Fiancailles”, and became a musical embodiment of images, turned the classic drama of the beginning of the 20th century. And the second — “The Northern Sphinx” is dedicated to the personality of the Russian Emperor — Alexander the First. The historical context of the period of his rein — the beginning of the 19th century defined the musical style of composer’s work.
Theater performances and operas
The year 2013 is marked by the work on the stage version of the "Live Pictures of the time of Alexander I and Napoleon Bonapart" getting the new shorter name - modern opera "War and Peace".