"A new and unorthodox sound in contemporary music-"

"Kourliandski knows how to communicate his artistic ideas very convincingly..."
De Telegraaf (NL)




Photo: Co Broerse

Dmitri Kourliandski was born in 1976 in Moscow. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory and completed post-graduate course led by Leonid Bobylev. Attended master classes given by many Russian and foreign composers. His compositions won awards in Russia, France and Great Britain. In 2003 he won the Grand Prix of the International Gaudeamus Competition in the Netherlands. Guest of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm 2008 (DAAD Artist-in-residence). Ensemble 2e2m (France) composer-in-residence 2010.

Dmitri Kourliandski’s music is regularly played in concerts and at festivals held in many Russian cities, CIS, Germany (Donaueschingen, Berlin and Dresden festivals, Schleswig-Holstein and others), Italy (Venice biennale), the Netherlands (Gaudeamus), Belgium ([email protected]), Great Britain, Austria (Aspekte Festival), France, Finland (Musica nova, Time of Music), Poland (Warsaw autumn), Greece (Hellenic festival), Serbia, Argentina, Japan and is broadcast worldwide. Dmitri Kourliandski worked with such conductors as Vladimir Fedoseev, Teodor Currentzis, Reinbert de Leeuw, Zsolt Nagy, Jurjen Hemel, Giorgio Bernasconi and others. His compositions were played by many Russian orchestras and leading European ensembles, such as KlangForum Wien, ASKO and Schoenberg ensembles, Aleph, Slagwerkgroep den Haag, Champ d'action, Integrales and many others. He has received commissions from many Russian and European festivals, ensembles and foundations. Some of his works have been published by Le Chant du Monde.

Mr. Kourliandski is the founder and editor-in-chief of Tribuna Sovremennoi Muzyki (Tribune of Contemporary Music), the first Russian journal dealing with contemporary music issues. He is a co-founder of the Structural Resistance (StRes) group of composers and member of the Composers’ Union of Russia.

From 2004, Dmitri Kourliandski designates his creative search as "objective music". "The concept of music as an object, a visual phenomenon, is opposite to romantic concept characterized by evolution of music in time (which is largely typical of contemporary music, too). In my music, there is no evolution, there is no action. Some compositions can give the listener an impression of action, of dramaturgy. But this is simply a consequence of human perception: when something exists in time, something always happens within us. A human being can feel, experience, think in his innermost being, without this being caused by an exterior action: the action is inner". "I love kinetic sculptures. I like something that seems static and yet at the same time provokes a multitude of thoughts. Formally, my compositions can be defined as a mechanisms whereby if you press a button all the music comes out. Listeners are invited to notice how the piece functions." (From the interview to Makis Solomos. Logbook of the Ensemble Aleph 3rd International Forum for Young Composers. France, 2004). Dmitri Kourliandski’s language completely rejects traditional instrumental sounding. "There can be no restrictions on art. “Abnormal" sounds do not contradict today’s language position. On the contrary, such sounds form new active fields, where the decisive element is not the reliance on available experience, but the possibility of gaining new one." ("Objective Music. From General to Particular". Tribune of Contemporary Music, No. 1/4, 2006).

Composer Sergej Newski about Dmitri Kourliandski's music:

In the beginning of the 20th century Russian formalists (Schklovski) stated the death of language – words lost their force of expression and its resurrection is possible only through the pure experience of the form, baring of language structures. By demythologization of the creation work and liberation of formal processes formalists tried to make usual constructions sound new. The forms of Dmitri Kourliandski's music are intentionally elementary. As a rule, it is the comparison of blocks of bare, uncovered material. But behind the surface simplicity stays serious metaphysic claim. The sound liberates itself from usual contextual connotations and thus pure experience of the form is achieved, which Schklovski considered as a pledge of “artistic perception”. Formalists considered modern (at that time) language as a “cemetery of words” which require resurrection. Kourliandski, like a deedful vampire, acts at the cemetery of sounds, most of which are unsuspicious of being dead. The recognition of their mortality, in fact, is perceived through his music. And, listening to it, we experience shock as well as liberation.

"Catastrophic construction" (Fedor Sofronov, composer, musicologist, journalist):

The heritage of Russian constructivists – architects, artists, and writers of 1920th still “works” running through the actual Russian art of the 21st century. In particular, it is noticeable in music: Russian musical constructivism of early Soviet period died just after being born in the works by Mosolov and Polovinkin. As is generally known, constructivists stated the primacy of the material over the form of an art piece. Mosolov, in his turn, interpreted the term “material” in functional sense of his time as a motive or chord complex usually defining the reality. Present generation of constructivism successors interpret the material as sounding structures liberated of their historical connotations by the unconventional use of instruments. Such is the poetic of Dmitri Kourliandski who departs in his music from the gesture which generates the sound, rather than from the sound result (“sound as a consequence of a gesture” D. Kourliandski, Unsolvable Acoustic Case, 2007). That is why the support of constructivism principles, elaborated in their manifests is felt in his creative work. Kourliandski demonstrates “exhaustive knowledge of all abilities of the material and the knack to thicken in it” (manifest “We Know”, 1924). The author and his will seem to disappear objectivated in the artwork which functions according to the rules dictated by the created whimsical building material. The musician and his instrument are treated as parts of a certain monolith object. That is why in his ensembles instruments often play tutti from beginning to end, as one huge instrument/mechanism. Each player performs certain chain of gests/functions, often strongly cycled and immutable. Each cycle of gests is mechanized and doesn’t affect cycles of gests of other performers – all just function in simultaneity. At the same time, composer’s “artistic” interference in the functioning of such complex mechanism is minimized. Finally, the piece becomes a certain phenomenon with which neither composer nor performers can do anything – it is only possible to coexist with the will dictated by the material. Thus, the only way of forming remains duplication or iteration, the mechanical reproduction of gesture (as on expressive photos of Alexander Rodchenko, poeticizing conveyor production of machines and mechanisms). “For us the machine is a thing. We do not want to make either its portraits, or madrigals. For us it stays as a lesson. Loke for our grandfathers who studied form from leaves, scales from nightingales” (manifest from “The Thing” by El Lisitski, 1923). The reach of the critical mass of repetitions, material’s self-reproductions carries in Kourliandski’s music qualitative changes, often even a technogenic catastrophe. The nowadays author, who learned about the destiny of industrial society and its cataclysms of the 20th century, cannot observe the machine as enthusiastically as his grandfathers did. Metaphors of such “catastrophic construction” are often found in Kourliandski’s music: hammers, sirens, drills and grinders in "Contra-relief" (an attempt of acoustical reconstruction of Vladimir Tatlin’s “Monument of the Third communist international”); plywood sheets, glass and hoses in "Unsolvable acoustic case"; water and clysters in "White concerto"; heart, stethoscopes, and knives in "Lacrimosa [anatomy of pain]".


Copyright 2004-2007 DK