Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music, and what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?
I composed my first pieces of music before I even entered music school, when I was a small child. My desire to attend music school came about thanks to my uncle’s advice – at the time he was playing the trumpet in the orchestra. He gave me a children’s harmonica, which I hardly let out of my sight. It turns out that I have quite a good ear for music! I wanted to learn so much more about music, and that’s how it all started. I would like to thank my uncle and my parents who found patience and the means for my education.
What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?
I have met with some distractions along the way. Once I became an adult, I decided to study at Law School. I graduated, but quickly realised that I wasn’t doing what I loved, so I have never actually worked in a law-based profession!
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?
I suppose one of the greatest pleasures is seeing and hearing my hard work realised by fantastic performers. I have written various works for voice, which have been sung by famous Russian singers, but my true passion lies in instrumental and symphonic composition. My upcoming album ‘Reflection’ explores symphonic music inspired by my homeland.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?
I have really enjoyed working with the American conductor, arranger and composer Lee Holdridge, as well as with the English music producer Chris Adler. They are outstanding professionals in their field – I’d even say the best! I would also like to mention the excellent orchestras and music studios that have helped to make my music sound so incredible: Münchner Symphoniker in Munich, Solo Musica (Hubert Haas), Emil Berliner Studios, Compofactur (Matthias Spindler) Hamburg, Wroclaw Score Orchestra, Teldex studio Berlin, Simfonia Varsovia Orchestra, Warchaw Philharmonic Choir.
Of which works are you most proud?
All my music pieces are highly valuable to me, but the very first album ‘Renaissance’ was the most inspiring, in that it was my first recorded collection (always a special thing!).
How would you characterise your compositional language?
Every piece of music I write is a life story, my inner philosophy, my observations of nature and people. These themes run throughout my works, which are richly orchestrated and highly symphonic in style.
How do you work?
Sometimes the melody suddenly materialises and plays on repeat in my mind until I sit at the piano and let it all pour out onto paper. The result is a complete piece of music! I also like to purposely think at the piano sometimes, play something, express through music what happened to me or what I saw once and what made an impression on me.
Who are your favourite musicians/composers?
My favorite composers are some of the classics, and include the likes of Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Gershwin. Being Russian, I can’t miss out Shostakovich and Prokofiev, but my all-time favorite composer is Rachmaninoff. His works and his way of playing the piano truly inspire me!
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Success to me means when people appreciate your work and listen to it on a less superficial level, when they truly understand and recognise your work.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
In my opinion, it is important for young musicians to know that they should not compete with anyone or compare themselves with anyone, but should work on what drives them and makes them happy. Strive for excellence, be disciplined, and after a while, the results will be achieved.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
For me, it’s being able to see that my friends and family are happy.
In many northern regions of Russia, it is said that winter never ends. The Siberian winds generate sub-zero temperatures, causing rivers and lakes to crackle and freeze. Delicate ice crystals fall from the endless white sky and dance alongside trees and shrubs. The days are short, and everyday life slows during the darkest months. But it is also a time of festivals and traditions, a time when people greet each other with warmth and kindness to escape the sting of the cold. Bells ring in this magical time in which many look forward to cosy get-togethers and festive markets, teeming with rosy-cheeked children holding spiced sugar cookies and hot chocolate. With Russian Winter, Yury Kunets captures this vignette, creating a melodious picture of familial togetherness.
“A great Russian heart needs great Russian symphonies.” This is how Kunets describes his work himself. It is the Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff, the German-Austrian greats such as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, but also jazz legends such as Herbie Hancock Stevie Wonder and Al Jarreau, who shape his orchestral compositions and revive memories of nature and childhood. Little stories about human existence, always connected and surrounded by nature, are preserved throughout his compositions.
The single ‘Russian Winter’ is released across digital streaming platforms on Friday 9 November. The album ‘Reflection’ will be released on 25 January 2019, and more information about Yury can be found on www.yurykunets.com
Yury Kunets is a Russian composer, musician, producer and businessman.
Kunets began composing at a very early age while studying in a public school. The first serious attempts in songwriting were done composing songs for the “Impulse Five” band in the late 80s. From 2004 he was involved in several musical TV projects as a producer. Along with author and director Maxim Kapitanovsky, they created two musical films: “Blame it all on the Beatles” (“Rossiya” state TV channel) and “Don’t Shoot The Musicians” (2007).
In collaboration with Mikhail Tanich and Kirill Krastoshevsky he composed songs for many artists, including the legendary band Pesnyary, Mikhail Mien and many others.
By 2011 Kunets had accumulated a considerable repertoire of instrumental pieces to record and release. In collaboration with award-winning American conductor Lee Holdridge and Grammy award-winning British recording producer Christopher Alder, he began recording a series of symphonic music albums. A set of piano demos, recorded in Robert Irving’s Los Angeles studio, marked the beginning of a collaboration with Lee Holdridge as an arranger.
The first album was recorded 2011 in Kraków with the Wroclaw Score Orchestra. It was released the same year under the name of “Renaissance”. After receiving positive reviews, Kunets decided to continue recording the series with Holdridge and Alder. By the end of 2014 he had recorded several new compositions in Warsaw. The Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra and the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir are featured on the recording, which took place in Polska Radio Studio 2 and culminated in the second album, called “Dedication”. Right now he is working on his third album “Reflection”