Natalia Hrennikova

Natalia Hrennikova

Daughter of composer Tikhon Khrennikov.
Date of Birth: 25.01.1940
Country: Russia

  1. Natalya Khrennikova: The Daughter of a Renowned Russian Composer
  2. A Quiet Commemoration
  3. An Enviable Destiny?
  4. Respected and Loved
  5. The Source of His Happiest Moments

Natalya Khrennikova: The Daughter of a Renowned Russian Composer

Natalya Khrennikova is the daughter of the acclaimed Russian composer, Tikhon Khrennikov. It has been five years since the passing of the outstanding Russian composer, who was known for his works such as the opera "In the Storm," the ballet "Napoleon Bonaparte," symphonies, and compositions for films like "The Swineherd and the Shepherd," "The Ballad of the Hussar," "Faithful Friends," and "The Komsomol Girl." In a recent interview, Natalya Khrennikova shares insights into the life of her father.

A Quiet Commemoration

To honor her father's memory, Natalya Khrennikova, along with her family, including her son and four grandchildren, one of whom, Tikhon Khrennikov Jr., has inherited his great-grandfather's compositional abilities, decided to quietly commemorate him. However, the following year, in 2013, would have marked the composer's centennial.

An Enviable Destiny?

When asked about her father's life, Natalya Khrennikova reflects on the impression that her father's life was one of favoritism, with early success at the age of 22 and the loyalty of Soviet leaders throughout his career as the chairman of the Union of Soviet Composers. One wonders if the system never approached him dangerously.

She reveals that her father, Tikhon Khrennikov, lived to almost 95 years old and had his fair share of experiences. During the time of the "Yezhovshchina" (Great Purge), two of Tikhon Nikolayevich Khrennikov's brothers found themselves in the clutches of the NKVD. One of his brothers was saved when Tikhon sought help from a prominent lawyer, Braudo. However, his other brother, Boris, was not as fortunate and perished in Stalin's labor camps.

Throughout the years of repression, while heading the Composer's Union, Tikhon Khrennikov tirelessly defended Soviet musicologists and composers. He saved the lives of numerous musicians, but at the cost of his own health. Due to severe nervous exhaustion, he was sent to the Barvikha clinic near Moscow. However, it was far from the luxurious resort-like facility it is today. Guards were stationed behind every bush, and his mother, Clara Arnoldovna, was not allowed to visit. Many years later, Tikhon Khrennikov would say, "If it weren't for Rachmaninoff's music, which I listened to before sleep, I would surely have died within the hospital walls." However, his mother managed to rescue him from the clutches of the clinic. She sneaked into the clinic and took him for a walk, where a car awaited them. She sat in the backseat, while her father hid beneath her voluminous skirts. Thus, Khrennikov, clad in his pajamas, managed to escape. The scandal that followed was monumental. However, his father recovered his strength over the course of a year.

When asked if Tikhon Khrennikov was an ordinary person despite his extraordinary career, Natalya Khrennikova confirms that he was grounded and described him as a true Russian man. Women always loved him and tended to him. Natalya would often tease him, saying, "Dad, you're so diverse! You like both dark-haired and blondes. A man should have his own feminine type, so make up your mind!" But her father replied, "Nonsense! Each woman has her own unique appeal." Despite this, he lived with her mother for 67 years. It is undeniable that his creative power was derived from music. As for the secret to his longevity, Tikhon Khrennikov always said, "I have a plan to live until I'm 96 years old." Unfortunately, he fell just short of that age. He never fretted over his health and focused on his work. Interestingly, he was afraid of doctors. He never underwent any surgeries and believed that if it wasn't absolutely necessary, there was no need to go under the knife. An astonishing fact is that he outlived all the General Secretaries of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union while holding the position of the chief composer.

Respected and Loved

Musicians adored and respected Tikhon Khrennikov. They often said, "No one can do anything better than Tishka." He was never envious and never pushed the compositions of his secretaries onto others, although they often tried to promote their own works. In 1991, when the USSR dissolved and the Union of Composers ceased to exist, he left, slamming the door shut, saying, "My work here is done."

The Source of His Happiest Moments

When asked which of his compositions brought him the happiest moments, Natalya Khrennikova recounts a curious family anecdote. Tikhon Khrennikov was composing music for the Vakhtangov Theatre's production of "Much Ado About Nothing" while courting her mother. She asked to see what he was working on and came over to his place. He played her the initial sketches of a love song, "Like a Nightingale to the Rose." Clara Arnoldovna was curious and inquired, "What are you writing? Show me." He dedicated the incomplete song to her and played it. However, she criticized him harshly, saying, "How dare you dedicate this terrible piece to me?" Tikhon Khrennikov was deeply upset. As soon as his mother left, he "reformatted" the song overnight and composed what would become a masterpiece. During the era of perestroika, Khrennikov was accused of adhering strictly to the melodic structure of Soviet music...

Natalya Khrennikova dispels the notion that her father composed any works based on party or Leninist themes. Unlike Prokofiev and Shostakovich, Tikhon Khrennikov only wrote what he wanted to. Only once did Stalin issue a directive, which resulted in the composition of the "March of the Artillerymen" for the film "Six O'Clock in the Evening After the War"...

Overall, Tikhon Khrennikov, with his longevity, talent, and unique personality, left an indelible mark on Russian music history. His dedication to his craft, resilience in the face of adversity, and unwavering love for music continue to inspire generations of musicians.