Of all the scholars who have written on Serge Koussevitzky, one of the most distinguished and important is the Russian-born Victor Yuzefovich who, after compiling and impressive career as a performer, critic, and musicologist in Russia, now lives in the United States of America, where he teaches, lectures, and continues to write. Among his myriad publications in Russian (see below), he has published two major books on Koussevitzky, the second volume of which in 2014 received the "Book of the Year Award" in Moscow.
After several conversations with Dr. Yuzefovich, he and I decided – with the enthusiastic approval of Koussevitzky Recordings Society President Tom Godell – that it would be of great possible interest and value for the KRS's readers for us to publish select chapters from both of Dr. Yuzefovich's volumes in their English translation by Anthony Phillips (England), and it is seriously hoped that both volumes – as well as a forthcoming one of Koussevitzky's years with the Boston Symphony Orchestra – will find sufficient support for them to be fully translated into English. In addition to the reprints of select chapters, we felt it might be fascinating and valuable also to publish a 2011 lecture that Dr. Yuzefovich delivered at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois) titled "Rachmaninov and Koussevitzky: Half a Century of Cooperation."
This intriguing and information-filled lecture features Dr. Yuzefovich's assuming the role of an interviewer asking an imaginary Koussevitzky numerous questions based on Dr. Yuzefovich's many years of highly detailed study of Koussevitzky's archives, through which process Dr. Yuzefovich came to feel he was actually communicating with the Boston Symphony Orchestra's great, 25-year conductor.
Before presenting the lecture about Koussevitzky and Rachmaninov, as well as several chapters – in English translation – from Dr. Yuzefovich's first two volumes on Koussevitzky, we offer some background information about this eminent scholar, who has so graciously given us permission to quote whatever – and as much as – we wish from his Koussevitzky-related writings. It has been a privilege and delight coming to know Dr. Yuzefovich, and I fervently hope that his monumental, three-volume set on Koussevitzky (the third one is in process) will somehow be made available not only Russian, but also English.
Born in Moscow, Russia, Dr. Yuzefovich was raised in that city and in 1960 received his undergraduate degree in Music Performance, Music Pedagogy, and Musicology at the Gnessin Institute (now Moscow's State Gnessin Music Academy). Four years later he earned another undergraduate degree from Moscow's Lunicharsky State Theater Institute, this time in the History of the Theater, Music, and Theater Criticism, thereby helping lay the foundation for his brilliant multi-faceted career. In 1972 the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory awarded him a Ph.D. in Musicology; his dissertation – later published as a book – was on "Hector Berlioz and His Symphony Harold in Italy" (Dr. Yuzefovich is a violist). (As an aside – and as many KRS readers well know – Koussevitzky, together with William Primrose and the Boston Symphony, recorded Harold in an interpretation that is unsurpassed in its staggering power, imaginativeness, and intensity). Dr. Yuzefovich's early research on the Moscow School of Violin performance at the outset of the last century and on its leading figure, Ivan (Ian) Grzhimali, exceeded standard diploma requirements[i] and was honored by publication.
Dr. Yuzefovich's musical experience and music-related accomplishments are remarkable, as is his knowledge of Russian culture in general. From 1957 to 1972, he served as Assistant Principal Violist in The Central Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra of the USSR; he was also a member of the orchestra's Artistic Board. From 1972 until 1991, he held the title, in Moscow, as Chief of the Performing Arts and Music Education division of Soviet Music, then the USSR's foremost classical music journal. His position with this publication helped place him in the dynamic center of Russian musical activity. He interacted with leading musicians, contributed to musical international congresses, and, among other achievements, initiated round-table conversations between jurors for Moscow's International Tchaikovsky Competition.[ii] His articles number over 700 and have appeared in the most esteemed theater and music journals in Russia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Norway, Finland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Japan, as well as the USA. Highly regarded Russian encyclopedias carry over 65 of his entries.
In the same period as he was a performing artist and prolific writer, Dr. Yuzefovich from 1976-1985 presented as Visiting Professor a series of lectures on "Music Criticism and Performing Arts" at the State Gnessin Music Academy.
1991 brought Dr. Yuzefovich to the United States as a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, DC. From 1992-94, working as a Consultant at the Library of Congress, Dr. Yuzefovich helped significantly to have its immense Koussevitzky achive organized.[iii] Dr. Yuzefovich's extensive research at the Library provided him with a vast amount of source material and inspiration for his future publications on Koussevitzky.
Recipient of numerous important awards and a sought-after lecturer in Russia, Dr. Yuzefovich has also lectured widely in the USA, from, for example, the Eastman School of Music, Carnegie-Mellon University, and Brigham Young University, to the Woodrow Wilson International Center, Indianapolis's International Violin Competition, and Georgetown University, where from 1994-1996 he was a Visiting Researcher.
As for Dr. Yuzefovich's books, we list them below:
Hector Berlioz and His Symphony "Harold in Italy". Moscow, 1972 (in Russian).
Vadim Borisowsky as the Founder of the School of Viola Playing. Moscow, 1977 (in Russian).
David Oistrakh. Stuttgart, 1977 (in German), Moscow, 1978 and 1985 (in Russian), London, 1979 (in English), Budapest, 1980 (in Hungarian), Sofia, 1984 (in Bulgarian), Moscow 2008 (in Russian), 2014 St. Petersberg (in Russian). (Interestingly, Dr. Yuzefovich also created screen scripts for David Oistrakh, a six-serial TV-film produced and aired by the Central TV, USSR, Moscow, 1989.)
The History of the Harp. Co-authored with Vera Dulova. Moscow, 1978 (in Russian).
Aram Khachaturian. New York, 1985 (in English), Tokyo, 1987 (in Japanese), Moscow, 1990 ( in Russian), Tehran, 2003 ( in Persian).
Serge Koussevitzky ("The Russian Years"). Moscow, 2004 (in Russian), 441 pages. [Click on title for chapter excerpts.]
Serge Koussevitzky ("In Paris"). St. Petersberg, 2014, (in Russian). 480 pages. [Click on title for chapter excerpts.]
Serge Koussevitzky ("At the Helm of The Boston Symphony"). In preparation.
Serge Prokofiev and Serge Koussevitzky. Letters and Comentaries. Moscow, 2008 (in Russian), 534 pages.
Alexander Scriabin – Nikolay Struve – Serge Koussevitzky: Friendship, Cooperation and the Rupture. Moscow, 2015 (in Russian), 140 pages.
Additionally, there is an associated article by Dr. Yuzefovich:
"Chronicle of a Non-Friendship: Letters of Stravinsky and Koussevitzky", The Musical Quarterly, 86(4), Winter 2002, pp. 750-885; 2004 Oxford University Press.
A gracious and distinguished gentleman, with whom it has been the greatest pleasure and honor working, Dr. Yuzefovich has since 1994 served as Music Instructor in Violin, Viola, and Chamber Music at Washington Adventist University, in Takoma Park, Maryland. He has long resided in northern Virginia, where, approximately a decade ago, Tom Godell visited Dr. Yuzefovich.
Please note: the above introduction is based on my conversations with Dr. Yuzefovich as well as on his online biography and personal documentation, which he shared with me. – V.K.-Y.
First, I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Victor Yuzefovich for our discussions, for his very helpful and kind advice, and for allowing his writings to be published here. Tom Godell – an internationally esteemed music critic and both founder and President of the Koussevitzky Recordings Society, Inc. – encouraged and supported this project after I proposed it to him. Dave Lampson – founder of Classical Net – has my warmest, most heartfelt gratitude for collecting all the material here and so effectively editing, formatting, and publishing it.
Two other individuals merit very special acknowledgement. First is my friend of over 50 years, the distinguished New York-based opera conductor (and Leopold Stokowski's former Associate Conductor), Anthony Morss, who knew Koussevitzky personally, is an authority on him and his career, and spent countless hours discussing him with me over the past decades. My beloved late Mother, Tatiana Koshkin-Youritzin – a superb classical pianist, protégée of Michel Fokine, and (before she turned full-time to motherhood) a principal member of the corps de ballet of New York City's Radio City Music Hall – introduced me, as a child, to the magic of Koussevitzky's artistry.
Vice President, Koussevitzky Recordings Society, Inc.
David Ross Boyd Professor, History of Art
The University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK 73019
Published December 3, 2015