Who or what have been the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?
Here I must name a number of great composers: first: Bach, Wagner, Bruckner, Brahms and Mahler, second: Rachmaninov, Richard Strauss and early New Viennese Composers, above all Schoenberg of “Verklärte Nacht” and “Pelleas and Melisande” and Webern of “Passacaglia”. I am also influenced by Franck, Reger, Scriabine, Sibelius, Nielsen, Hindemith, Stravinsky and Martinu. I think all of these influences together have helped me to find my own composer’s way and musical style.
What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?
It was during my studies at the Leningrad Conservatory, studying specialization composition under Professor Orest Yevlakhov from 1971-1973 – he was a pupil of Shostakovich, with a strongly marked anti-romantic attitude, and it was very difficult studying under him. After his death in 1973 I continued my composition studies under Professor Serghey Slonimsky, which was much more successful (1973-1976).
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?
I have not worked on commissioned pieces very often. On the most recent occasion I composed my “Andante contemplativo” for string Oorchestra, commissioned from Martin Anderson, head of Toccata Classics label. This work I have very much enjoyed – it was a nice lyrical piece.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles or orchestras?
It has been a great pleasure working with the American String Quartet ‘Marcolivia’, who performed my Second String Quartet in the USA in 2010 and 2015, and with the St. Petersburg Youth Chamber Choir under Yulia Khutoretskaya, which has performed my works in St. Petersburg, Switzerland and Austria. Also working with Moscow String Orchestra “The Seasons” under Vladislav Bulakhow, and with Royal Scottish National Orchestra under my friend, the Swiss conductor Rainer Held, who recorded my Fourth Symphony and Capriccio in Glasgow in June 2019. It has been a great pleasure to work with all of these musicians, all of whom are of a very high artistic calibre.
Of which works are you most proud?
My five Symphonies, my ballet “The Queen of snow”, and my Oratorio “The Song about Armenia”.
How would you characterise your compositional language?
Late-Romantic, but enriched through very modern elements – at times extreme chromatic harmony, and occasionally polytonality and atonality.
How do you work?
Only if I feel a real inspiration. I work in absolute silence, at my working table. Only in that way can I imagine to create music, its sound and development.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
For me success means the possibility to present my own works for society, for wide art-interested public.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I would impart above all to have faith in one’s own talent and power, and patience.
What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?
More interest in and support of good new works.
Alexander Brincken was born in 1952 in St. Petersburg. Since 1992 he has lived in Lucerne, Switzerland. He is composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher.
Just heard his Symphony No.4 on YouTube. This is music that needs to be spread and re-heard. Thumbs way-up.