Prichet is a Russian traditional lament on the occasion of death. This one movement concert solo violin piece is based on the six notes: E-F-D-S-A-H – the initial letters of my name, as well as my husband’s, Dmitri Smirnov, and our children’s Alissa and Philip. It was written in Autumn 2004 soon after the death of my mother and dedicated to her memory.
Elena Firsova, the Leningrad-born, Moscow-trained composer, emerged in the 1970s as one of the most distinctive and imaginative Russian voices of her generation. Her music reflects the influence of her mentor Denisov but transforms his expansive lyricism into something more personal, private and romantic. Elena Firsova’s music has been performed throughout Europe and the USA. Her many commissions include works for the BBC, BBC Proms, Brodsky Quartet, Schubert Ensemble, EXPO 2000 (Hanover) and Ensemble Pyramide.
In 1970, when she was still at music college, she wrote her first settings of Osip Mandelstam, who died in the Stalinist camps in 1938. Though now regarded as one of the greatest Russian poets of the 20th century, Mandelstam was unpublished in the Soviet Union in the period when Firsova first fell in love with his work, and was to remain so until Glasnost in the late 1980s. She has written more than a dozen settings of Mandelstam’s verse and a series of instrumental compositions inspired by his words.
Since the early 1990s, Firsova and her composer husband Dmitri Smirnov have lived in the UK. Elena was appointed visiting professor and composer in residence at Keele University from 1993 – 1997. Since 1999, she has taught composition at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. Their daughter Alissa is also a composer and pianist.
Commissioned by West Cork Music and Cheltenham Music Festival with funds from Cork2005, The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon and Arts Council South West.