Sergej Berinskiy

Sergej Berinskiy

Date of Birth: 14.04.1946
Country: Moldova

  1. Sergei Berinsky: A Life of Intensity and Creativity
  2. A Unique and Individualistic Composer
  3. A Multifaceted Musical Legacy

Sergei Berinsky: A Life of Intensity and Creativity

Sergei Samuilovich Berinsky (April 14, 1946 - March 12, 1998) was a composer destined to live a relatively short but incredibly intense life. His untimely death in March 1998 came at the height of his powers and talent, interrupting many of his plans and leaving behind orphaned children, friends, and students. Sergei Samuilovich Berinsky was born in 1946 in the Moldavian town of Novye Kaushany. His childhood and youth were closely associated with Donetsk, where he completed music school and college as a violinist. In the Berinsky family, there was a cultivated interest in literature, and they enjoyed a diverse range of folk music - Jewish, Romanian, Moldavian, Ukrainian (it was in this atmosphere that the composer's older brother, the now well-known poet and translator Lev Berinsky, was influenced and, in turn, influenced the literary tastes of his younger brother). In 1970, Sergei enrolled in the State Music and Pedagogical Institute named after Gnesin, in the composition class of A.G. Chugaev. Chugaev profoundly influenced the formation of his musical and personal identity. Berinsky held a grateful memory of his mentor throughout his life. After graduating from the institute, he remained in Moscow, actively establishing himself as a composer. At the same time, his rich and active nature sought new forms of realization. His gift for human communication, combined with his temperament and innate "instinct for truth," led him to embark on a path of "informal" pedagogical and educational activities, creating a kind of laboratory for compositional creativity. Sergei organized a music club, which he described as an "experimental platform for music of all genres." He led a seminar for young composers at the House of Creativity in Ivanovo, and had a regular column discussing his work with colleagues in the journal "Musical Academy." This activity, which took place outside of official educational institutions and was full of genuine creative energy (earning Berinsky many loyal students and followers), deserves even greater attention as it unfolded during the difficult post-perestroika years, "critical moments" in the country's history, when many of Sergei's colleagues left Russia and moved to the prosperous West. And yet, his own compositional work never ceased, always pushed to its limits...

A Unique and Individualistic Composer

Sergei Berinsky firmly believed in the unique and individual nature of the creative act, and therefore, he distanced himself from group manifestos and momentary slogans. However, his own creativity was largely shaped by the time - the atmosphere of Russian culture in the last decades of the century. He was spiritually close to his older contemporaries - A. Schnittke and S. Gubaidulina, who had already passed through the stage of avant-garde experimentation. Berinsky embodied the characteristics of the "seventies" generation, such as a desire for linguistic synthesis, self-reflection, and a striving for lofty goals. Berinsky's "multilingualism," demonstrated in his choice of poetic texts and in his own musical style (from everyday life to high pathos, from baroque rhetoric and synagogue chants to jazz), is clearly of a romantic nature. It is no coincidence that he felt a close affinity with G. Mahler - with his breadth of sources, merged into his own confessional speech. He himself was a romantic idealist, keenly aware of the tragic fragmentation of existence, yet simultaneously striving for the heights of Harmony and Love, for unity with nature and the cosmos. Believing that the path of 20th-century music lies in the destruction and rediscovery of Beauty, he himself followed this path, creating diverse compositions that were emotionally contrasting at times. Another predecessor of Berinsky was D. Shostakovich, with whom he shared an intense social responsiveness, in addition to the Jewish theme. Hence the frequent presence of memorial genres and dedications in his work, arising from personal losses and reflections on the victims of mass genocide. Over the years, a religious note became increasingly prominent in his compositions, whether it be stories from the Old Testament ("Psalms of David" for four cellos) or musical genres of the liturgical tradition (first experimented in the 1979 Requiem).

A Multifaceted Musical Legacy

Sergei Berinsky's music resonated with the philosophical lyricism of R.M. Rilke (Symphony-Cantata "To Orpheus"), the sublime eroticism of ancient Eastern poetry ("Songs of Longing by Makhsumkul"), and the humor of Russian postmodernists ("Tears of the Heraldic Soul" by D. Prigov). In his quest to embrace the boundless, he sometimes delved into forbidden zones of emotional naturalism, creating vocal mono-spectacles like "Hysteriada" and accordion pieces in an "invalid style." Throughout it all, his unique voice, recognizable in the diversity of poems and expressed in symphonies, concertos, quartets, and sonatas, never wavered. Berinsky's compositional ideas often arose in direct contact with performing musicians. Several of his compositions, including "Double Portrait," were dedicated to his daughters, who are talented violinists and flutists. Among the renowned musicians who interpreted (and sometimes inspired) his works were violinist I. Bochkova, singers L. Mkrtchyan and I. Kuindzhi, cellists N. Shakhovskaya and V. Tonkha, clarinetists L. Mikhailov and E. Petrov, and accordionist F. Lips. The mention of Lips is noteworthy not only because Berinsky utilized the accordion in a completely new interpretation, far from the stereotypical role of a "folk instrument," but also because he saw the accordion as a source of new sonic colors and a metaphor for human breath, enhancing the image of a suffering human soul in a surrealist manner.

Sergei Berinsky's creative legacy is as voluminous as it is multi-genre. Among his works are five symphonies (the fifth remained unfinished), concertos for various ensembles with soloists, chamber instrumental and vocal cycles, choral works, music for theatrical productions and films. His name is included in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.