Questionnaire Vadim Karassikov


Please introduce yourself briefly. What is important for you, musically and otherwise?
I was born in 1972 (on the 7th of November) in Ekaterinburg which used to be one of the most deprived towns in Russia.
As a child I'd experienced the events by which the very possibility to go on with my life had been questioned. I perceive my work as a composer as the basic reason for my life. This work occupies most of my free time.
My musical world is that of the Medieval and the Renaissance Europe. The recordings of the Beethoven's works are the most "modern" in the CD collection I have got.
I like very much reading. The literature I prefer is mostly non-fictional. I used to spend much time studying the subjects like semiotic, meta mathematics, logic, topology as well as General System Theory.
I am interested in all the divisions of modern mathematics and physics as well as in Sociology and all the sorts of Cultural Studies (from those of Levi-Strauss till the most recent).
I like traveling and I've got deep interest in the World History and Visual Arts.
I live completely alone since the beginning of 1999. My communication with the "external" world is very much reduced. It is many years ago that I have stopped reading newspapers, listening to the Radio and watching TV.
My human contacts are reduced to a minimum.

Can one make a living these days solely from composing?
As I am sufficiently "slow" composer the possibility to avoid an additional job (say teaching) seems to me, in my particular case, to be of a rather little chance. But there are always "fast" composers as well.

How do you compose (approach, duration)?
I do not use any formal models for my composition. My approach is that of a pure intuition. In a sense, I did not write a single note in my scores. All of them are merely given to me.
So, it is neither pride nor vanity that I've got regarding what I did as a composer.
All I experience is a sensation of beauty and a feeling of a deep gratitude for being given to experience it.

To what extent do you use traditional forms?
see above

How often do you receive commissions, and how do these come about? Do you wait for a commission and then compose the work to fit the criteria, or do you submit a work you have already completed?

In your opinion what is the lot of a composer today compared with that of one 50 or 150 years ago?

What music do you listen to in your free time?
see above


What is important in a composer's formal training years?

As a composer do you need to continue your education, if so, how?
TEvery composer, in a sense, educates oneself during all his life if one is to understand education as a process of acquiring skills to better implement ones design. I find conservatory education completed by additional "home" studying an ideal, but, in truth, it is highly individual matter "how to better study composition". In fact, as it seems to me, one is never studying it, but rather helps oneself to acquire tools necessary to realize ones audible (or any other) images.
I avoid to label any music (and broader: any experience life brings along) as "bad". I am, instead, aware of that there plenty pieces of art (as well as sort of human experience) I got no interest in. If, nevertheless, it happened that it is only its author who'd come to be interested in such a work, the existence of the latter can thereby already be justified as I believe.

What is your opinion of the training offered by the conservatoires or universities?

Which particular composers did you concentrate on during your study?


Where do you think New Music stands today? What prospects does New Music have in the future?
The so called "New Music", that is, the musical production of the nowadays stage of the overall European musical tradition remains as elitist as were used to be all those of the preceding stages this tradition enjoyed. It is always only a little percentage of the virtual output of the latter (in terms of the quantity of the composer's names and, subsequently, that of their works) that is coming to be more or less familiar to the "broad" audience. an "average" listener knows about music in general and its current state in particular not much more than he knows about, let's say, quantum physics, unless he is a specialist in this field. And it was used to be so far thousand of years. The Italian peasants or artisans of the 14th century know little about what were Ciconia or Machaut concerned with.

In your opinion is New Music today defeated by the laws of the so-called Market?
"New Music" is not alone in this.
As I believe, the music (and art in general) can not be "defected" by the market laws as long as these latter are to a high degree subject to the complex processes taking place in the field of art itself. It is not always that the most market-aimed product turns, due to that aim, out the most marketable. In many cases rather the opposite is the true: the least sale-oriented object comes to exercise the strongest attraction of the market. The very ignorance respecting the market laws such an object reveals endorses it with an extraordinary value.

Many composers state that they do not write for the listening public. What is your view?
It seems to me there is no composer able to avoid listening public as he himself will always remain the, so to say, "least degree" of the latter by virtue of a mere necessity to somehow perceive what he is up to compose. There is but another, more important, side of this point. The statement like "I [sic] am not writing for audience" may mislead easily when left unexplained. Even though, I admit there could be a composer to whom it would seem to be sufficient to entertain the role of the audience by himself exclusively, it is very seldom that this occurs. In most of the cases statements of this kind are used by composers to stress their primary independence respecting the audience's preferences as well as expectations. This is where it would locate my own choice concerning the matter. Yes, all the work of mine are supposed to be performed in the audiences presence. this, however, in no way means these were composed according to what I presume to be the most efficient way to please the listener.
It is only my personal sense of beauty that my works have been composed according to. It is only in case I myself pleased with the work I did that I feel happy and honest to share the pleasure with everybody willing to. And that how many of those latter have come to be found around is for me in no case a question of primary importance as, in the long run, it is only and exclusively the quality of the work ( according to my understanding of what this quality is to be like) that I am always concerned with.

What role do the publishing houses and recording companies play in New Music today?


What are your personal perspectives and projects for the future?


Please describe the piece which the City of Frankfurt and Ensemble Modern has commissioned from you, and your thoughts and reflections on the subject.
The vectors of the echo slipping away (2001) does in a sense summarize the main tendencies one could trace in my work of the recent few years (in the most evident way in "beyond the boundway of silence" (1998) for clarinet, violin and piano and in "november morphology II" for cello solo). As those of the later, the dynamic exponents of the new work do explore the extremes of the scale. Thus, nearly (as well as virtually) inaudible passages coexist here with those of the slashing sharpness and loudness. Though, most of the piece's "events" are being deployed on the verge of silence.
The special significance is that the visually perceived aspects of the piece's material (gesture forms) are a part of the piece. So, a number of the passages the work includes can only be observed (but not heard, since they are inaudible) by the audience. It is, therefore, crucial for the listener to activate his/her visual perception intensely while the piece is being performed, as it is not only the above-mentioned inaudible passages but also those of the low and lowest degree of the audibility that require the most attentive observation in order to be perceived adequately.