From Russia with Love: A Russian Music History

Amita Manandhar
The Paw Print

The Adams State University Wind ensemble performed a band concert in the Leon Memorial Hall on Saturday, Nov. 17.

The concert, which was titled From Russia with love, featured musical pieces from Russian musicians.

The main focus of this concert was to give the audience a taste of Russian musical history.

The ensemble was conducted by Dr. Matthew Luttrell who had joined the faculty of ASU as Director of Bands in July 2012.

The first piece that the band performed was Jazz suite by a Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.  Before the band started playing, Luttrell gave the audience some information about the Russian composer.

He said that Shostakovich normally composes classical music and most people who have an interest in classical music would be puzzled when they hear about jazz music by Shostakovich.

The jazz influences in Shostakovich’s music stemmed from the huge explosion in jazz that happened around the 20th century in United States.

Jazz music was termed as an underground movement, and was hated by many. In the case of the Russians, jazz was western music and using jazz melodies was like going against the government.

The jazz suite was originally composed for a movie but it was not used. The piece was very melodious; it was not a typical jazz music, it just had some influences of the western melody.

It was because Shostakovich did not know much about the American jazz music; the composition was his interpretation of American jazz.

The next piece they played was Folk Dances by Shostakovich, and the tune had old time dance tunes feel to it. Luttrell said that the Russian music is very much based on folk dances.

“It is music of the people so to speak, and so there is a lot of dance and lot of elements to it that bring out the best of what the Russian people have to give,” he said.

The third piece was Russian Christmas Music by Alfred Reed who was an American composer. Luttrell said Reed had composed this piece as an attempt to bridge the gap between the Soviet and American relations.

Even though the piece was titled as Christmas music it did not have any musical elements like bells or sleigh bells.

The last piece of the concert was Pictures at an exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky. The music was the composers’ idea of what art or paintings would feel like if it had sounds. This piece was originally composed for piano by Mussorgsky.

It has gone through several writings, different arrangements and variations. The piece that the ASU ensemble played was the newest arrangement and was a little bit more percussive.

Luttrell said that it is one of his favorite pieces and that he grew up listening to it in the radio.

All Linda Wyling who had come to see the concert was all smiles after the concert and said she enjoyed the concert. “It was excellent,” said Wyling. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet