Alexander Gradsky

(Redirected from Stadium (rock opera))

Alexander Borisovich Gradsky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Бори́сович Гра́дский; born Alexander Borisovich Fradkin, 3 November 1949 – 28 November 2021) was a Russian rock singer, bard, multi-instrumentalist and composer. He was one of the earliest performers of rock music in Russia. His diverse repertoire included rock 'n' roll, traditional folk songs performed with a rock twist, and operatic arias. He composed two rock operas and numerous songs including soundtrack music for several films.

Alexander Gradsky
Александр Градский
Gradsky in 2019
Gradsky in 2019
Background information
Birth nameAlexander Borisovich Fradkin
Born(1949-11-03)3 November 1949
Kopeysk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died28 November 2021(2021-11-28) (aged 72)
Moscow, Russia
  • Singer
  • Songwriter
  • Musician
  • Vocal teacher
  • Vocals
  • Piano
  • Guitar
  • Bass guitar
  • Violin
  • Drums
Years active1963–2021

Early life and musical beginningsEdit

Alexander Gradsky was born on 3 November 1949 in the Russian city of Kopeysk, into a family of mixed Jewish and Russian origin.[1] His father Boris Fradkin was an engineer working in a factory, and his mother Tamara was an actress. His mother encouraged him to learn to play the violin as a child, and her brother, Boris Gradsky, Alexander Gradsky's uncle, was a dancer who toured abroad with the famous Moiseev dance group and brought home records of Western music artists including Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong and Little Richard.[2] Such music was not ordinarily available in Soviet Russia at that time.[3][4]

By the age of 12, Gradsky was singing Elvis Presley songs and accompanying himself on guitar.[5] In 1963, at the age of 13, he sang with a Polish student band called Tarakany (Тараканы – The Cockroaches) in a concert at the International Club of Moscow State University.[3] This is believed to have been the first public performance of rock 'n' roll by any Russian musician.[3]

Other bandsEdit

In the mid-1960s, Gradsky joined the band Slaviane (Славяне – The Slavs) as lead singer.[3] The band's repertoire consisted almost entirely of Beatles and Rolling Stones covers.[4] In 1966–1967, he was working with three bands: Slaviane, Los Panchos and Skify (Скифы – The Scythians). However, he found himself disagreeing with his Slaviane bandmates over the direction the band should take. Gradsky wanted to perform original rock songs in his native Russian language, whereas the other band members did not think that such endeavours could be successful and wanted to continue performing imported songs.[3]

Gradsky consequently decided to form his own band, Skomorokhi (Скоморохи – The Jesters or The Buffoons) in 1967. His band became popular playing original Russian songs, as Gradsky blended elements of Western rock music with the lyric-centred, folk-influenced Russian bard music which was popular around that time.[3] He enrolled in Gnesins Academy of Music in 1969, and continued to perform with Skomorokhi while a student. A successful performance at the Soviet pop-rock festival Silver Strings was followed with airplay and record deals.[5]

Solo careerEdit

In 1973, film director Andrei Konchalovsky asked Alexander Gradsky to compose and perform music for the film "A Lover's Romance", which was released in 1974, the same year in which Gradsky graduated with a master's degree in vocal performance.[4][5] Gradsky performed all the male vocal parts in the film soundtrack, which brought him fame as a solo artist.[5] His many records released during his long career encompass a variety of genres.[4][5] His first rock opera, Stadium (Стадион – Stadion), dedicated to the memory of Víctor Jara, was released as a double LP in 1985.[6] He also composed a rock ballet The Man (Человек – Chelovek), released in 1988.[6]

Gradsky was a tenor who is reported to have a three-and-a-half octave vocal range, and also played 12 instruments.[7] He performed the demanding role of the Astrologer in Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Golden Cockerel (Золотой Петушок – Zolotoy Petushok) in Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre in 1988.[5]

— You are from Russia, nice to meet you (looks quite apprehensively).
What did you like the most from the concert?
— I liked the concert very much, and most of all I liked the piece
with variable sizes: 7/8, 9/8 and 11/8. Like in Russian music.
— Yes, like Stravinsky.
— Yes, as in the "The Rite of Spring".
— Yes, as in the third part.
— Yes, as in allergo.
— I know who you are and what you are worth.

A conversation with Sting, from the book "Alexander Gradsky. The Voice"[8][9]

In the 80s, Gradsky returned to the writing a poetry and creating social-themed songs.[10] He formed a concert program in the "singer-songwriter" style.[11] He participated in the organization of a number of Soviet rock festivals such as Rock-panorama.[12] He also worked as a host of "Alexander Gradsky's hit-parade" show on radio "Yunost"[13] showing near 107 artists from different genres (artits like Alexander Bashlachev, Yuri Shevchuk, Victor Tsoy, Konstantin Kinchev, Dmitriy Malikov, Vladimir Presnyakov Jr. got their first radio broadcast).[14] Gradsky took part in a charity concert for the liquidators of Chernobyl disaster.[15][16]

Since the late '80s, Gradsky taught vocals at the Gnesin Music Academy and performed there.[5] In 1987, he became a member of Union of Russian Composers.

His collaboration with John Denver, with whom he performed the 1986 song Let us Begin..., brought him to wider international attention.[5] On 16 July 1988 Gradsky performed at the San Francisco, California Golden Gate Park Bandshell as part of the American Soviet Peace Walk Concert. Later that evening he also played acoustic guitar and sang during the intermission (set break) at the Grateful Dead Rex Foundation Charity concert at U.C. Berkeley's Greek Theater. In 1990, he got a contract with Victor Entertainment and released two albums containing songs in Russian and English as well as Japanese romances. In 1999, he performed a recital at New York City's Carnegie Hall.[7]

Gradsky in Tiraspol, 2014

In late 2009, Alexander Gradsky released a 4-CD opera adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita (Ма́стер и Маргари́та), starring Gradsky himself as Master, Woland, Yeshua and Behemoth.[2] The opera also stars Nikolai Fomenko as Koroviev, Mikhail Seryshev (formerly of Master) as Ivan, and Elena Minina as Margarita,[2] in addition to many renowned Russian singers and actors in episodic roles, including (but not limited to) Iosif Kobzon, Lyubov Kazarnovskaya, Andrei Makarevich, Alexander Rosenbaum, Arkady Arkanov, and the late Georgi Millyar (voice footage from one of his movies was used).

In his later years Gradsky positioned himself as a marginal; he was demanding of his colleagues as well as journalists.[17]

The VoiceEdit

In 2012-2014, he took part in the TV project "The Voice" as a coach[18][19] along with Dima Bilan, Pelageya and Leonid Agutin. In the first three seasons, the artists from his team won — Dina Garipova, Sergey Volchkov and Alexandra Vorobyova.[20]

He also took part in 2015; his participant, Mikhail Ozerov, took the second place.[21]

In 2017 and 2021 Gradsky, Pelageya, Bilan and Agutin (often described in mass media as a "golden composition") returned into the show once again.[22][23] In 2017, a participant from Gradsky's team, Selim Alahyarov, has won the competition.[24] In 2021, Alisher Usmanov took the second place.[25]

A significant part of Gradsky's team made up the troupe of the "Gradsky Hall", opened in 2015.[26]

Personal lifeEdit

Alexander Gradsky was married four times. His first marriage was when he was in his early twenties but it didn't last long and they divorced within months. He was married for the second time in 1970 to actress Anastasia Vertinskaya. His third marriage was with a then 20 year old Lomonosov Moscow University economics student Olga Fartysheva. They were married for 23 years and had two children together Daniel (March 1981) and Maria (January 1986). Alexander was in a relationship with Ukrainian fashion model Marina Kotashenko in his late years, they had two sons together: Alexander (2014) and Ivan (2018).[27]


After contracting COVID-19 in September 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Russia, Gradsky's health steadily deteriorated. On 26 November 2021, he did not feel well at home, and was urgently hospitalized at a Moscow hospital for a suspected stroke.[28][29] On 28 November 2021, he died at the age of 72.[30] On 1 December 2021, he was buried at the Vagankovo Cemetery.[31]


Rock operasEdit

Russian title English translation Year
Стадион Stadium (rock opera) 1985
Мастер и Маргарита The Master and Margarita 2009

Other albums and EPsEdit

Russian title English translation Released Recorded
Давид Тухманов. Как прекрасен мир David Tukhmanov. How Beautiful is the World
(Alexander Gradsky sings two songs)
1972 1971
Поёт Александр Градский Alexander Gradsky Sings 1973 (EP) 1969—1972
Романс о влюблённых A Lover's Romance
"A Lover's Romance" motion picture soundtrack
1974 1973
Солнце, снова солнце Sun, Sun Again 1976 (EP) 1976
Александр Градский и ансамбль "Скоморохи" Alexander Gradsky and Skomorokhi
Gradsky's music on R. Burns, W. Shakespeare, A. Voznesensky's verses
1976 (EP) 1976
Александр Градский и Элтон Джон
(Только ты верь мне)
Alexander Gradsky and Elton John
(Only You Trust Me)
1979 (EP) 1972
Русские песни Russian Songs
Vocal Suite on the themes from the Russian folklore
1980 1976—1978
Александра Пахмутова. Птица счастья Alexandra Pakhmutova. Bird of Happiness
(Alexander Gradsky sings two songs)
1980 (EP)
Сама жизнь
Вокальная сюита на стихи Поля Элюара
Life Itself
Vocal Suite on Paul Eluard's verses
1984 1981
Звезда полей
Вокальная сюита на стихи Николая Рубцова
Fields Star
Vocal Suite on verses by Nikolai Rubtsov
1986 1982
Вокальная сюита на стихи Саши Черного
Vocal Suite on verses by Sasha Chyorny
1987 1980
Давайте начнём Let's Get Started 1987 (EP) 1985—1986
Утопия АГ Utopia AG
Vocal Suite on verses by R. Burnes, P. Shelley, and Béranger
1987 1979
Размышления шута
Вокальная сюита
Reflections of a Jester
Vocal Suite
1987 1971—1974
Флейта и рояль
Вокальная сюита на стихи Бориса Пастернака и Владимира Маяковского
Flute and Grand Piano
Vocal Suite on verses by Boris Pasternak and Vladimir Mayakovsky
1988 1983
Вокальная сюита на стихи Владимира Набокова
Vocal Suite on verses by Vladimir Nabokov
1988 1984
The Man
1988 1986
Узник замка Иф
Monte Cristo
"The Prisoner of Château d'If" motion picture soundtrack
1989 1987
Концерт-сюита Concert Suite 1989 1979—1987
Экспедиция Expedition 1990 1990
(n/a) Metamorphoses 1991 1991
Несвоевременные песни Untimely Songs 1994 1990
Фрукты с кладбища Fruits from the Cemetery 1995 1991
ЖИВьЁМ в России (A)live in Russia 1996 March 17, 1995
Золотое старьё Golden Junk 1996
Коллекция АГ (13CD) Collection of AG (13-CD set) 1996
Легенды русского рока
Градский и группа "Скоморохи"
Legends of Russian Rock
Gradsky and Skomorokhi
ЖИВьЁМ в России 2 (A)live in Russia 2 2000 November 3, 1999
Хрестоматия Reader 2003 2003
Песни для Иры Songs for Ira 2003 2003
Неформат Unformatted 2011 2010—2011


Russian title English translation Year
ЖИВьЁМ в России 2
Юбилейный видеоконцерт
(A)live in Russia 2
Jubilee video concerts
ЖИВьЁМ в России
Юбилейный видеоконцерт
(A)live in Russia
Jubilee video concerts
Антиперестроечный Блюз
(фильм-концерт 1990)
Anti-Perestroika Blues
(Film-concert 1990)


  1. ^ "Alexander Gradsky". Biography (in Russian). Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Alexander Gradskiy". Master & Margarita. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Yoffe, Mark; Laing, Dave. "History of Soviet and Russian Rock Music". Written for Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of The World: Locations. SOFT POWER. Archived from the original on 31 August 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d "Biography". Official website (in Russian). Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Ofman, Gregory. "Alexander Gradsky: biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Discography". Alexander Gradsky official website (in Russian). Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Alexander Gradsky will make a recital debut at Carnegie Hall". New York Daily News. 1 March 1999. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  8. ^ Dodolev, Е. Александр Градский. The Голос. — Ripol-classic, 2013. — ISBN 978-5-386-05582-0
  9. ^ Pavlenko, M. (1989). "По-моему, вы все спятили" (PDF). Rumba: 24. Retrieved 29 November 2022. К примеру, у нас состоялся такой разговор со Стингом: «Вы из России, очень приятно» - и так с опаской смотрит. Спрашивает: что вам больше всего понравилось в концерте? Отвечаю: концерт очень понравился, а больше всего понравилась пьеса с переменным размеров – 7/8, 9/8 и 11/8. Как в русской музыке. ОН говорит: да, как у Стравинского. Я говорю: да, как в «Весне Священной». ОН говорит: да, как в третьей части. Отвечаю: да, как в аллерго. ОН говорит: Я знаю, кто ты такой и чего стоишь.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "О Владимире Высоцком - Александр Градский". Archived from the original on 20 February 2022. Retrieved 20 February 2022.. In Russian
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  14. ^ "Лучше бы я стал строителем, а не певцом — Александр Градский —". Archived from the original on 30 November 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2021.. In Russian
  15. ^ "Снова в СССР —". Archived from the original on 17 September 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
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  17. ^ "Своих врагов я ликвидирую — Александр Градский". Archived from the original on 2 December 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2021. In Russian
  18. ^ Градский обречённый: Большой ребёнок, ворчливый идеалист, лишний на празднике жизни. In Russian
  19. ^ "Пионер подпольного русского рока, композитор, певец и наставник. Памяти Александра Градского". Archived from the original on 9 December 2021. Retrieved 9 December 2021.. In Russian
  20. ^ "Заслуги мэтра: 4 талантливых ученика Градского, которые стали победителями шоу «Голос»". Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2022. In Russian
  21. ^ "Александр Градский — «Голос»: Биография, личная жизнь, фото, дети". Archived from the original on 8 August 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.. In Russian
  22. ^ «Игры «Голоса»: почему вернули золотой состав In Russian
  23. ^ Градский — душа «Голоса»: незабываемые моменты шоу с участием маэстро In Russian
  24. ^ Победителем шестого «Голоса» стал Селим Алахяров Archived 2018-09-10 at the Wayback Machine // Российская газета. — 2017. — 30 декабря. In Russian
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External linksEdit