Alfred Garyevich Schnittke (Russian: Àëüôðåä Øíèòêå, November 24, 1934 – August 3, 1998) was a German- Russian composer of classical music.
His father was born in Frankfurt to a Jewish family of Russian origin who had moved to the USSR in 1926, and his mother was a Volga German born in Russia.
Alfred Schnittke was born in Engels in the Soviet Union. He began his musical education in 1946 in Vienna where his father, a journalist and translator, had been posted. In 1948 the family moved to Moscow. He completed his graduate work in composition at the Moscow Conservatory in 1961, and taught there from 1962 to 1972. Thereafter he supported himself mainly by composing film scores. Schnittke converted to Christianity and possessed deeply held mystic beliefs which influenced his music. In the 1960s he studied at the Moscow Conservatory where among his teachers in composition was Evgeny Golubev.
In 1985, Schnittke suffered a stroke which left him in a coma. He was declared clinically dead on several occasions, but recovered and continued to compose. In 1990, Schnittke left Russia and settled in Hamburg. His health remained poor, however, and he suffered several more strokes before his death on August 3, 1998 in Hamburg.
In a number of pieces, Schnittke quotes or parodies other composers, and this combined with his 'polystylism' (using a mixture of musical styles past and present in close proximity) has resulted in his work being seen as one musical manifestation of postmodernism. Among his better known works are a number of symphonies, several concerti grossi, chamber music including a piano quintet and a string trio, and several operas including Life With an Idiot.
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