Watch a video of the Soviet soundtrack composer perform on the piano
Though his work is still little known in the West, popular composer Mikael Tariverdiev scored soundtracks for more than 130 films in the USSR and post-Communist Russia before his death in 1996. “Tariverdiev was a kind of Soviet Michel Legrand,” declares Andy Hamilton in The Wire 382. “Like Legrand, Tariverdiev had a penchant for melancholic themes that exploit cyclical harmonic patterns, and he also had a love of jazz.”
Tariverdiev was born in 1931 in Tbilisi, Georgia, to Armenian parents, but he grew up and worked in Soviet Russia. A highly prolific composer, he wrote music for TV, ballets and operas as well as films. His most popular soundtracks include his work for the 1973 Soviet television series Seventeen Moments Of Spring and the romantic comedy The Irony Of Fate (1976). Earlier on, his soundtrack for Goodbye Boys (1964) began a successful working partnership with its director Mikhail Khalik, which continued through a run of films until the early 1970s, when Khalik defected after running into difficulties with the state’s censors.
A new compilation of Tariverdiev’s soundtracks called Film Music has just been released by Earth Recordings. It was overseen by composer, producer and singer Stephen Coates, of The Real Tuesday Weld, who will be presenting a Soviet Sounds And Cold War Cabaret afternoon at London’s Union Chapel on 28 November. Coates will also be discussing Tariverdiev’s life and work with BBC broadcaster and Russian cultural commentator Alex Kan at Pushkin House on 4 December.