Gidon Kremer on Mieczysław Weinberg: Testament to turbulent times

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This year marks a century since the birth of Polish–Soviet composer Mieczysław Weinberg. Violinist Gidon Kremer tells Tom Stewart why he has become one of the composer’s greatest champions

In a 2015 interview for the International Mieczysław Weinberg Society, Shostakovich’s widow, Irina, recalled her surprise on hearing that ‘Gidon Kremer, who was so avant-garde, had fallen in love with Weinberg’s music!’ Kremer laughs when I put this to him. ‘When I was young I was more interested in people like Schnittke, Arvo Pärt and Sofia Gubaidulina. These exciting composers were still relatively unknown and their music needed support. I was always opposed to the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and I didn’t think that spending too much time focusing on the “classic” Soviet artists, as Shostakovich became, was a good thing. 


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