Homage to Aleksandr Michailovic Ivanov-Kramskoi (1912-1973)
I wanted to pay my musical homage to this great interpreter of the international guitar, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death. So I started recording some of his Studies, taken from his very famous School, and elaborations of popular songs, as well as compositions by him and his composer friends or at least his contemporary. Although he lived almost always in the USSR, his life did not lack artistic encounters with foreign guitarists on tour in his country: among them the Spaniard Andrés Segovia, the Austrian Louise Walker, the Argentine Maria Luisa Anido, the German Siegfried Berend, the French duo Ida Presti and Alexander Lagoya, the Belgians Ilsa and Nicholas Alfonso.
Aleksandr Ivanov-Kramskoi composed two Concertos for guitar and orchestra. (The Elegy I am interpreting represents the reissue for solo guitar of the central movement of the first concert). Besides, he has composed about 500 pieces for solo guitar and in various ensembles with classical and popular instruments (such as domra, bajan, balalaika).
I recall here only the main milestones of his artistic life:
1912 - Born July 26 in Moscow, his real surname is simply Ivanov.
1922 - He begins his violin studies at the "Igumnov" Music School in Moscow
1926 - After listening to Andrés Segovia's concert in the great hall of the Moscow Conservatory, he decides to devote himself to the guitar (an instrument he already knew thanks to one of his already famous guitarist ancestor), leaving out the violin.
1931-1935 - He studies conducting under K. S. Saradzhev and composition under Nikolai S. Rechmensky at the Moscow Conservatory. At the same time he is a student of the famous guitarist Pyotr Spirindovich Agafoshin.
1932- Starts giving concerts as a soloist and in chamber ensembles (Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, etc.), simultaneously performing for the radio, which he will continue throughout his life.
1932 - He accompanies exceptional singers such as the mezzo-soprano Nadezhda Andreevna Obukhova (1886-1961) and the tenor Ivan Semenovich Kozlovsky (1900-1993), a native of Kiev. Their duo concerts with guitar at the Kremlin have remained famous.
1935 - First Soviet interpreter of the Castilian Suite, Sonata and Prelude by Moreno Torroba, Fandanguillo by Turina, Studies and Preludes by H. Villa-Lobos, Sarabande by Rodrigo, Fantasia by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, as well as much music from the Renaissance to the Romantic era, which records on LP Melodija.
1939-1945 - Conducts the Song and Dance Ensemble of the NKVD of the USSR.
1946-1952 - Conducts the orchestra of popular instruments of the State Radio and Television.
1948 - He publishes the first edition of his celebrated "School for playing the Six-string guitar" which will be revised in 1952.
1958 - Vissarion Jakovlevič Shebalin (1902-1963) dedicates the Sonatina to him which Aleksandr performs on April 3rd 1965, at the Shebalin Memorial Evening.
1959 - He becomes "artist emeritus" of the USSR. He collaborates with the violinists Leonid Kogan and Eduard Grach with whom he records some LPs. He records in New York the Concerto op. 30 for guitar and string quartet by Mauro Giuliani on LP Monitor MC-2024, together with Variations on (three) Russian Themes for guitar and orchestra, Courante by J. S. Bach (ed. Segovia), Spanish Serenade by J. Malats, his Prelude in D minor and the Variations on the Spinster by V. Vyssotski. This record was positively reviewed by the Italian magazine L'Arte Chitarristica of the same year.
1960 - Thanks to his tireless work, the first guitar course in the USSR is officially reopened at the Music College of the Moscow Conservatory. Among his students are Nikolay Komalyatov, winner of the Moscow International Guitar Festival, the Ukrainian Valery Petrenko, soloist of the Kyiv Philharmonic; many Muscovite guitarists such as Andrey Garin, Evgeny Larichev and his daughter Natalya Ivanova-Kramskaya (1939, Moscow) who will inherit his teaching.
1973 - He dies in Minsk on April 11, during a concert tour in Belarus.
1995- His daughter Natalya Alexandrovna dedicates the book "A Life Dedicated to the Guitar" to him (105 pages).