Leonid Desyatnikov

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Leonid Desyatnikov, 2009

Leonid Arkadievich Desyatnikov (Russian: Леони́д Арка́дьевич Деся́тников, born: 16 October 1955, Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR) is a Russian composer who first made a reputation with a number of film scores, then achieving greater fame when his controversial opera The Children of Rosenthal was premiered at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Life and career[edit]

Leonid Desyatnikov was born in 1955 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. He is a graduate of the Leningrad Conservatory, where he studied composition and instrumentation. Desyatnikov has penned four opera, several cantatas and numerous vocal and instrumental compositions. His principal compositions include: The Children of Rosenthal (an opera in two acts; libretto, Vladimir Sorokin), commissioned by the Bolshoi Theatre; Poor Liza (a chamber opera in one act; libretto, Leonid Desyatnikov, after the novel by Nikolai Karamzin); Gift (a cantata based on the verses of Gavrila Derzhavin); The Leaden Echo (a work for voice(s) and instruments based on the poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins); and The Rite of Winter 1949 (a symphony for chorus, soloists and orchestra).

Desyatnikov has been collaborating with Gidon Kremer since 1996 as a composer (Wie der Alte Leiermann...; the chamber version of Sketches to Sunset; Russian Seasons) as well as arranging the works of Astor Piazzolla, including the tango-operita María de Buenos Aires and the tango suite Cuatro estaciones porteñas. Desyatnikov wrote the scores for the films Sunset (1990), Lost in Siberia (1991), Hammer and Sickle (1994), Moscow Nights (Katya Izmailova) (1994), Giselle’s Mania (1995), Prisoner of the Mountains (1996), All That Is Tender (1996), Moscow (2000), His Wife’s Diary (2000) and The Target (2010).[1]


Desyatnikov was awarded a Golden Ram prize and the Grand Prix of the IV International Cinema Music festival in Bonn for his score for Moscow and the special prize of the Window to Europe Cinema Festival in Vyborg. In 2006 the opera The Children of Rosenthal received the special jury prize of The Golden Mask National Theatre Award. In 2003 Desyatnikov was awarded the State Prize of Russia.


Desyatnikov is the author of four operas, the symphony The Rite of Winter 1949, vocal cycles to the poems of Rilke and the OBERIU poets, and several instrumental transcriptions of themes by Ástor Piazzolla. The style of his music is defined by the composer himself as "an emancipation of consonance, transformation of banality and 'minimalism' with a human face". His favourite genre is "a tragically naughty bagatelle".


  • Poor Liza (Бедная Лиза) one-act chamber opera, libretto by Leonid Desyatnikov after Nikolai Karamzin (1976; 1980)
  • Nobody Wants to Sing or Bravo-bravissimo, Pioneer Anisimov (Никто не хочет петь, или Браво-брависсимо, пионер Анисимов a comic opera for children in two acts, libretto by B. Chaban (1982)
  • Vitamin of the Growth (Витамин роста) one-act classical opera for children, for the soloists and piano after the poem by Oleg Grigoriev (1985)
  • The Children of Rosenthal (Дети Розенталя) opera in two acts, libretto by Vladimir Sorokin. Commissioned by the Bolshoi Theatre, premiere March 23, 2005

Chamber music[edit]

  • Variations on the Obtaining of a Dwelling for violoncello and piano.
  • Wie Der Alte Leiermann for violin and piano
  • Du côté de chez Swan for two pianos
  • Sketches to Sunset, quintet for flute, clarinet, violin, double bass and piano
  • Return for oboe, clarinet, two violins, viola, cello and tape

Other genres[edit]

Music for symphony orchestra[edit]


Film music[edit]

  • Sunset ("Закат", Zeldovich, 1990)
  • Lost in Siberia ("Затерянный в Сибири", 1991, Mitta)
  • Katia Izmailova (Moscow nights) ("Подмосковные вечера", Todorovsky, 1994)
  • Hammer and Sickle ("Серп и молот", Livnev, 1994)
  • Giselle's Mania ("Мания Жизели", Uchitel, 1995)
  • The Prisoner of the Mountains ("Кавказский пленник", Bodrov, 1996)
  • Whoever Softer ("Тот, кто нежнее", Karpykov, 1996)
  • His Wife's Diary (Uchitel, 2000)
  • Moscow ("Москва", Zeldovich, 2000)
  • Tycoon ("Олигарх", Loungine, 2002)
  • Dreaming of Space ("Космос как предчувствие", Uchitel, 2005)
  • Captive ("Пленный", Uchitel, 2008)
  • Target ("Мишень", Zeldovich, 2011)
  • Van Goghs ("Ван Гоги", Livnev, 2019)


  1. ^ "Leonid Desyatnikov - composer and artistic director of the Bolshoi Theatre". Composition: Today. Retrieved 2010-08-29.

External links[edit]