Russian Composer Dmitri Kourliandski gone into exile in France

Composer Dmitri Kourliandski has gone into exile in France with his wife and three children. "Contemporary art is a form of political opposition," he says.

A quiet childhood under Brezhnev, in a family of the Russian intelligentsia where "no one talked about war", where they listened to Shostakovich but also to jazz. The young Dmitri Kourliandski initially intended to become a flautist. When I was 19, I lived in Paris. I studied at the conservatory in the 9th arrondissement and started preparing to enter the CNSMD. But because of problems with his lips, Dmitri had to stop playing the flute. So why not become a composer? "It was in Paris that I first heard the music of Ligeti and Boulez," he recalls. That was my first contact with contemporary music. I used to go to the Fnac and buy CDs to listen to their music.

Dmitri enrolled at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory to study composition on his return to Moscow. After a "creative crisis", he began to find his own "forms of music", his own "sound". Noisy compositions often described as "saturationist", sounds of chewing, cars, clocks... Resolutely contemporary music that is no longer really in the odour of sanctity in Russia. "All these years, it has not been easy to create institutions for contemporary music; there was always resistance. If our musical society was quite conservative, it was still possible," says the Muscovite. "But today, the ideology that tends to become dominant is completely against contemporary composers."

Activities destroyed

"All my activities were destroyed in Russia," he continues, because they were international initiatives, not just for Russian composers but for everyone." Activities that are now threatened by the Russian government's isolationist policy. The composer also collaborated with a dramatic theatre in Moscow, where he was the musical director. Committed to his art, Dmitri created Structural Resistance in 2005, a group of six composers whose aim was to link contemporary artists and promote young talent. Twelve years ago, he also founded an academy for young composers in Tchaikovsky, a town in the Urals.

When war broke out, it became inconceivable for the composer to stay ("I saw no possibility of continuing, neither economically nor morally"), especially as his wife, Anastasia, is a political journalist specialising in reporting on actions in opposition to Putin. "For her, it was becoming hazardous to stay. So they sold their flat in Moscow, left money for their parents, booked plane tickets and landed in Paris at the end of March with their three children, aged 3, 12 and 14. "We are in a hotel. The atmosphere is very calm, especially after the immense tension we experienced in Moscow. But it feels a bit like a waiting room. We are looking at possibilities to leave this waiting room, to go to the real world."

With the help of the Atelier des artistes en exil (to which France Musique devoted a report) and the French Institute in Moscow, he and his family are trying to acquire a lasting status. For the moment, they have tourist visas, valid for only three months. Meanwhile, Dmitri is still writing. The music for the opera Eurydice, in particular, was performed again at the Théâtre de l'Athénée last April. The composer knows France well, having lived there and participated in several academies and taught several times at Royaumont. In addition, he has several projects in progress in France, Belgium and Switzerland.

"We imagined that Russian censorship was going to get stronger and stronger. We were ready for that, ready to resist, to continue. But we weren't ready for the war," Dmitri says. Despite this, he believes that composing contemporary music is a political act in itself: "The contemporary composers known in Europe are all against the war. Because I believe that contemporary art is a form of political opposition, an instrument of criticism. The "great culture."

(Source: Radio France)

Eurydice; Trailer

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