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Blazhkov, Igor

Date of Birth: September 23, 1936

Place of Origin: Kiev, Ukraine

Nationality: Ukrainian

Igor Ivanovich Blazhkov was born Sept. 23, 1936 in Kiev, Ukraine. He received his diploma summa cum laude from Kiev Conservatory, graduating from the conducting class of Professor Alexander Klimov (1959). He completed his post-graduate studies under the guidance of Evgeny Mravinsky at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, Leningrad (1967). In 1959, Blazhkov won the Conducting Competition of the Republic of Ukraine (Kiev). From 1958 to 1961, Blazhkov was conductor of the State Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine; thereafter he held the position of conductor for the Leningrad Philharmonic (1963-1968).

Excerpt from the interview of Gennady Rozhdestvensky to the weekly "Nedelia" ("The Week"), March 23, 1968:

“Nedelia“: Who do you consider to be the most promising among the new breed of young conductors?

Rozhdestvensky: I see among those recently emerging some quite interesting ones-- Zubin Mehta, Igor Blazhkov, Yuri Temirkanov, Seiji Ozawa, Claudio Abbado.

Beginning in 1958, Igor Blazhkov vigorously promoted the music of Igor Stravinsky on many a concert podium of the former Soviet Union while maintaining extensive correspondence with the composer.

From 1969 to 1976, Igor Blazhkov served as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Kiev Chamber Orchestra, molding it into one of the most prominent chamber music groups in the USSR. “Igor Blazhkov and the Kiev Chamber Orchestra are a phenomenon of genuine importance for our concert music scene”, Dmitri Shostakovich observed. The composer maintained a close friendship with Blazhkov, who championed many of his works over the years. It was during these years that Blazhkov premiered many works by Valentin Silvestrov and other Ukrainian composers who have now achieved prominence, such as Yevhen Stankovych and Oleh Kyva (see Upcoming TNC Classical Releases and News from Ukraine).

In 1977-1988, Blazhkov was affiliated with the concert agency Ukrconcert, and from 1988 to 1994 he was the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the State Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine. At the same time he was leading and mentoring the Perpetuum Mobile Orchestra (1983-2002).

Igor Blazhkov conducted the premiere of the ballet, The Twelve, by renowned Leningrad composer Boris Tishchenko, choreographed by Leonid Yakobson, at the Leningrad Kirov Theatre in 1964. In 1970, he revived from obscurity and brought back into the spotlight Boris Lyatoshynsky’s opera, Schchors [The Commander], conducting it at the Taras Shevchenko Opera and Ballet Theatre in Kiev, Ukraine.

In 1990, Maestro Blazhkov was honored with the title of People’s Artist of the Ukraine “for outstanding achievements in launching and promoting the works of musical art and for the high professional level of his concert performances”.

In 1986, the patriarch of Soviet conductors, Evgheny Mravinsky, wrote about Blazhkov: “Being a musician of rare expertise and exceptional knowledge, Blazhkov truly deserves his reputation as a talented and profiled conductor. His innovative, sensationally original programming is realized with both the immaculate technical precision and artistic inspiration listeners cannot resist. A genuinely hard-working musician, his highly educated tastes and preferences manifest in both the selection of compositions performed and their original interpretations. These qualities are intensified by Blazhkov’s quest for new frontiers and goals that never vanish, and by his extensive practical experience in the realms of concert music, opera and ballet. All said, these are the reasons why he became known as one of the most interesting and conspicuous conductors of his generation.”

The list of Blazhkov’s recordings adds up to more than 70 titles. He collaborated with such renowned CD producing companies as Denon, EMI, Olympia, Claudio Records, Wergo, Melodiya, Russian Disk, SoLyd Records, TNC, ESS.A.Y Recordings, Analekta, Angel SR, Eurodisc, HMV ASD, Shinsekai, JVC VIC, Chant du Monde, and Toshiba. A December 1990 “Montreal Gazette“ review of his CD Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique (recorded for Canadian company Analekta with the State Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine) states: “The performance is rock-solid and impressive… the orchestra sounds much more vivid than the Moscow Philharmonic”. The Canadian Association of Sound Recording, Performing Arts and Video Industry awarded the title “Best Classical Album of 1990” to another Analekta disk with Blazhkov and Canadian violinist Angele Dubeau featuring music by Prokofiev. Tchaikovsky, and Kabalevsky.

The touring itineraries of Blazhkov include performances in Poland, Germany, Spain, France, Switzerland, the United States, and Japan. The Polish newspaper “Sztandar Ludu reported: “Featured at our September Music Festival in the city of Lublin was one of the leading Soviet orchestras – the State Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine…under the artistic direction of Igor Blazhkov…. The Kievans played brilliantly, showing not only carefully polished technical mastery but also genuine emotional involvement. The Russian music fans which filled the concert hall to capacity were completely satisfied, for the concert stood out as a remarkable event of the month”. The Leipzig, Germany newspaper “Union“ observed: “…the State Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine from Kiev under the baton of its Chief Conductor Igor Blazhkov affirmed its reputation as a perfect musical ensemble.… In compositions by Stravinsky and Prokofiev, it demonstrated all at once wonderful precision, togetherness, finesse of sound, robust energy and timbre sophistication. In sum, this evening’s concert shall be remembered as a memorable one”.

Since 2002, Igor Blazhkov has made his home in Potsdam, Germany.

Modified: Feb 21, 2005
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