Georgy Sviridov

Georgy Vasilyevich Sviridov (Russian: Гео́ргий Васи́льевич Свири́дов; his patronymic is also transliterated Vasil'yevich, Vasilievich, and Vasil'evich; 16 December 1915 – 6 January 1998) was a Soviet and Russian neoromantic composer. He is most widely known for his choral music, strongly influenced by the traditional chant of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as his orchestral works which often celebrate elements of Russian culture. Sviridov employed, in his choral music especially, rich and dense harmonic textures, embracing a romantic-era tonality; his works would come to incorporate not only sacred elements of Russian church music, including vocal work for the basso profundo, but also the influence of Eastern European folk music, 19th-century European romantic composers (especially Tchaikovsky), and neoromantic contemporaries outside of Russia. He wrote musical settings of Russian Romantic poetry by poets such as Lermontov, Tyutchev and Blok. Sviridov enjoyed critical acclaim for much of his career in the USSR.

Georgy Sviridov
Georgy Vasilyevich Sviridov.jpg
Georgy Vasilyevich Sviridov

16 December 1915
Died6 January 1998 (age 82)
Resting placeNovodevichy Cemetery, Moscow
CitizenshipSoviet Union, Russia

Early life and youthEdit

Sviridov was born in 1915 in the town of Fatezh in the Kursk Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Kursk Oblast) in a family of Russian ethnicity.[1] His father, Vasily Sviridov, a sympathizer of the Bolshevik cause during the Russian Civil War that followed the Russian Revolution, was killed when Georgy was four. The family moved to Kursk, where Sviridov, still in elementary school, learned to play his first instrument, the balalaika. Learning to play by ear, he demonstrated such talent and ability that he was accepted into the local orchestra of Russian folk instruments. He enrolled in a music school in 1929, and following the advice of his teacher, M. Krutinsky, came to Leningrad in 1932, where he studied piano at the Leningrad Central Music College, graduating in 1936. From 1936 to 1941, Sviridov studied at the Leningrad Conservatory under Pyotr Ryazanov and Dmitri Shostakovich. Mobilized into the Soviet armed forces in 1941, just days after his graduation from the conservatory, Sviridov was sent to a military academy in Ufa, but was discharged by the end of the year due to poor health.

Musical legacyEdit

In 1935, Sviridov composed a cycle of lyrical romances based on the poetry of Alexander Pushkin which brought him first critical acclaim. During his studies in Leningrad Conservatory, 1936–1941, Sviridov experimented with different genres and different types of musical composition. He completed Piano Concerto No. 1 (1936–1939), Symphony No. 1 and the Chamber Symphony for Strings (1940). Later Sviridov would turn to the rich Russian musical heritage, including the folk songs, for inspiration.

Among Sviridov's most popular orchestral pieces are the Romance and the Waltz from his The Blizzard, musical illustrations after Pushkin (1975), that were originally written for the eponymous 1964 film based on the short story from Pushkin's The Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin. A short segment from his score for the 1965 film Time, Forward! (Время, вперёд!) was selected as the opening theme for the main evening TV news program Vremya (Время, 'time') and became the staple of Soviet life for several generations.

Poetry always occupied an important place in Sviridov's artistic universe. He wrote songs and romances to the lyrics of Mikhail Lermontov (1938, 1957), Alexander Blok (1941), William Shakespeare (1944–1960), Robert Burns (in Russian translation, 1955). Despite the popularity of Sviridov's instrumental works, both the composer himself and the music critics regarded vocal and choral music to be his main strengths. Pathetic Oratorio (1959) after Vladimir Mayakovsky has been called a masterful musical rendering of one of the most popular Russian revolution poets. Sviridov's prolific vocal chamber and vocal symphonic output includes Oratorio To the memory of Sergei Yesenin (1956), Little Cantata Wooden Russia (1964) after Yesenin, Cantata Songs of Kursk (1964), Spring Cantata (1972) after Nikolay Nekrasov, songs, romances, and cantatas after Fyodor Tyutchev, Sergei Yesenin, Alexander Blok, Boris Pasternak, Alexander Prokofyev, Robert Rozhdestvensky. He also wrote one opera, Twinkling Lights (1951).

While Sviridov's music remains little known in the West, his works received high praise in his homeland for their memorable lyrical melodies, national flavor and mainly for great expression of Russia and Russian soul in his music. His piece Winter Road was allegedly plagiarized by Tappi Iwase and used as the theme for the popular video game series Metal Gear Solid.[2]

Honors and awardsEdit

In 1946 Sviridov was awarded the Stalin Prize for his Piano Trio, heavily influenced by Tchaikovsky. The Lenin Prize of 1960 was bestowed on the composer for his Pathetic Oratorio. Georgy Sviridov was awarded the USSR State Prize in 1968 and 1980 and honored with the title People's Artist of the USSR. He became a Hero of Socialist Labour (1975) and was twice awarded the Order of Lenin.

Asteroid 4075 Sviridov, discovered by the Russian astronomer Lyudmila Karachkina in 1982, was named in honor of Georgy Sviridov.


The composer died of a heart attack in Moscow, where he had lived since 1956, on 6 January 1998.

Selected filmographyEdit

List of worksEdit


  • Chamber Symphony for strings (1940)
  • Symphony No. 2 (1949/Unfinished)
  • Triptych, a small symphony for orchestra (1964)
  • "Snow Storm", musical illustrations after Pushkin for orchestra (1975)


  • Piano Concerto No. 1 (1936–1939)
  • Piano Concerto No. 2 (1942)


  • Piano Trio (1945 - rev. 1955)
  • Piano Quintet in B minor (1945)
  • String Quartet No. 1 (1945–1946)
  • String Quartet No. 2 (1947)
  • Music for chamber orchestra (1964)

Solo pianoEdit

  • Seven Small Pieces for piano (1934–1935)
  • Seven Songs after Lermontov (1938)
  • Piano Sonata (1944)
  • Two Partitas for piano (1946 - rev. 1957, 1960)
  • Children's Album, seventeen pieces for piano (1948 - rev. 1957)
  • "Ruy Blas", serenade (1952)
  • Partita in E minor
  • Partita in F minor


  • "The Decembrists", oratorio (1955)
  • "Poem to the Memory of Sergei Yesenin", oratorio for tenor, mixed chorus and orchestra (1956)
  • Five Choruses to Lyrics by Russian Poets (1958)
  • Oratorio Pathetique to words by Mayakovsky for bass, mezzo-soprano, mixed chorus and orchestra (1959)
  • Song about Lenin ("We Don't Believe") to words by Mayakovsky for bass, mixed chorus and orchestra (1960)
  • "Songs of Kursk", cantata after folk texts for mixed chorus and orchestra (1964)
  • "Wooden Russia", cantata to words by Yesenin for tenor, men's chorus and orchestra (1964)
  • "Sad Songs", small cantata to words by A. Blok for mezzo-soprano, female chorus and orchestra (1962–1965)
  • "It's Snowing", small cantata to words by Boris Pasternak for female chorus, boys'chorus and orchestra (1965)
  • "Five Songs about Russia", cantata to words by Blok for soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, bass, mixed chorus and orchestra (1967)
  • "Four Folksongs" for chorus and orchestra (1971)
  • "The Friendly Guest" (better, "The Radiant Guest"), cantata to words by Yesenin for solo voices, chorus and orchestra (1971–1976)
  • "Spring Cantata" to words by Nekrasov for mixed chorus and orchestra (1972)
  • Concerto in Memory of A.A. Yurlov for unaccompanied mixed chorus (1973)
  • "The Birch of Life", cantata to words by A. Blok for mezzo-soprano and orchestra (1974)
  • Three Miniatures for solo voices and mixed chorus (1972–1975)
  • Three Pieces from "Children's Album" for mixed chorus a cappella (1975)
  • "Ode to Lenin" to words by R. Rozhdestvensky for narrator, chorus and large orchestra (1976)
  • Hymns to the Motherland for chorus (1978)
  • "Pushkin's Garland", choral concerto on verses by Alexander Pushkin (1979)
  • "Night Clouds", cantata to words by A. Blok for mixed chorus a cappella (1979)
  • "Ladoga", "Choral Poem" for chorus to words by A. Prokofiev (1980)
  • "Songs From Hard Times", choruses to words of A. Blok for chorus a cappella (1980–1981 and later)
  • "Hymns and Prayers", words from liturgical poetry, for unaccompanied choir (1980–1997)


  • "Bright Lights", operetta in three acts after L. Sacharov and S. Poloski (1951)

Miscellaneous musicEdit

  • "Othello", incidental music after Shakespeare (1942)
  • Original soundtrack to The Blizzard (1964) film after Alexander Pushkin's story
  • "Time, Forward!", suite of the film score (1967)
  • Music to the Play "Czar Fyodor Ioannovich" after Tolstoi (1973)
  • The Blizzard, musical illustrations to the Pushkin's story. Suite (1974)


  • Six Romances on Texts by Pushkin for voice and piano (1935)
  • Three Songs to words by Alexander Blok (1941)
  • "Shakespeare Suite" for singer and piano (1944)
  • "Country of My Fathers", song cycle after A. Isaakian for tenor and bass with piano accompaniment (1949–1950)
  • "Songs to Words of Robert Burns" for bass and piano (1955)
  • "My Father is a Farmer", song cycle to words by Yesenin for tenor and baritone (1957)
  • "Suburb-Lyrics", seven songs after A. Prokofiev and M. Issakovsky for singer and piano (1938–1958)
  • Eight Romances to words by Lermontov for bass and piano (1957–1958)
  • "St Petersburg Songs" for soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, bass, violin, cello and piano (1961–1963)
  • "Petersburg Songs" to words of A. Blok for bass and piano (1961–1963)
  • "Russia Cast Adrift", better "Russia Now Launched", song cycle to words by Yesenin for tenor and piano (1977)
  • Two Songs to words of A. S. Pushkin (1975–1980)
  • Nine Songs to Words of A. Blok (1972–1981)
  • Twenty-five Songs for bass and piano (1955–1981)
  • "Petersburg", song cycle to words by A. Blok (1963–1995)


  1. ^ Свиридов Георгий (Юрий) Васильевич - Герои страны (in Russian)
  2. ^ "Report: Konami Didn't Use Metal Gear Solid Theme In MGS4 Due To Plagiarism Accusations". Gamasutra. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2018-08-19.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Georgy Sviridov at Wikimedia Commons