Lev K. Knipper: Wind from the West
Lev Konstantinovich Knipper was born in Tiflis on December 16, 1898 and died in Moscow on July 30, 1974. This interesting composer was self-taught at the piano, with the aid of a book. In his mid-teens he began to compose for the instrument, encouraged by his aunt, then a famous actress of the Moscow Art Theater, Olga Knipper-Tchekova. These first compositional steps belong to the years 1915-1916 and were interrupted by World War I; he served for five years in the Russian Army Corps in the Far East, and could only recommence musical studies in 1921. Upon returning to civilian life, Knipper first worked with F. A. Hartmann and R. M. Gliere, then went to Berlin where he studied with the Busoni pupil Philip Jarnach, and with Julius Weismann in Freiburg. Upon his return to Russia, he undertook further studies at the Gnessin Institute with N. S. Zhilyaev, to whom he dedicated his Opus 1, as well as with E. F. Gnessina and Dmitry R. Rogal'-Levitskiy.
He was stage manager at the Moscow Art Theater during the 1921-1922 season, and continued this association in 1929-1930 when he was music advisor to the Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater.
In his autobiographical writings, Knipper gives 1924 as the year in which he began to study music (presumably he means with serious intent), and then goes on to say that the acquisition of technical skills is paramount, and he achieved this by working for up to eighteen hours a day.
His connection with the armed forces continued for many years, as he held various instructional posts with the Red Army, such as music instructor in the Far East ( 1932); music propaganda section in the years following, in Moscow; attached to Red Army in Persia ( 1942 and 1944); music instructor in the Ukraine ( 1945); and finally, in Buryat-Mongolia ( 1946).
During the 1920s, as a young composer, he was active in the Association of Contemporary Music (ACM), and ensured that he was informed of the latest innovations in Western music. Knipper's style developed along Western lines (he was then fond of Hindemith), incorporating his own talents for slightly wry humor, satire, and the grotesque. Stokowski became interested in his compositions and performed the Op.1 "Skazki gipsovovo bozhka" ("Legends of a Plaster God"), which was originally titled "Skazka gipsovo Buddy" ("Legend of the Plaster Buddha"), with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The inspiration for this suite was born in 1923, when the composer saw the sculptures of the young expressionist P. A. Chelishchev. In particular there was a