Ivan Semyonovich Kozlovsky |

Ivan Semyonovich Kozlovsky |

Ivan Kozlovsky

Date of birth
Date of death
Voice type
the USSR

Ivan Semyonovich Kozlovsky |

The famous harpist Vera Dulova writes:

“”There are names in art endowed with some kind of magical power. The mere mention of them brings to the soul the charm of poetry. These words of the Russian composer Serov can be fully attributed to Ivan Semenovich Kozlovsky – the pride of our national culture.

I happened to listen to the recordings of the singer recently. I was simply amazed again and again, because every thing is a performing masterpiece. Here, for example, a work with such a modest and transparent title – “Green Grove” – ​​belongs to the pen of our great contemporary Sergei Sergeevich Prokofiev. Written in folk words, it sounds like a sincere Russian chant. And how tenderly, how penetratingly Kozlovsky performs it.

    He is always on the lookout. This applies not only to new forms of performance, which constantly captivate him, but also to the repertoire. Those who attend his concerts know that the singer will always perform something new, unknown to his listeners until now. I would say more: each of his programs is fraught with something extraordinary. It is like waiting for a mystery, a miracle. In general, it seems to me that art should always be a little bit of a mystery … “

    Ivan Semenovich Kozlovsky was born on March 24, 1900 in the village of Maryanovka, Kyiv province. The first musical impressions in Vanya’s life are connected with his father, who sang beautifully and played the Viennese harmonica. The boy had an early love for music and singing, he had an exceptional ear and a naturally beautiful voice.

    It is not surprising that as a very young teenager, Vanya began to sing in the choir of the Trinity People’s House in Kyiv. Soon Kozlovsky was already a soloist of the Bolshoi Academic Choir. The choir was led by the well-known Ukrainian composer and choirmaster A. Koshyts, who became the first professional mentor of the talented singer. It was on the recommendation of Koshyts that in 1917 Kozlovsky entered the Kyiv Music and Drama Institute at the vocal department, in the class of Professor E.A. Muravieva.

    After graduating with honors from the institute in 1920, Ivan volunteered for the Red Army. He was assigned to the 22nd Infantry Brigade of the Engineer Troops and was sent to Poltava. Having received permission to combine service with concert work, Kozlovsky participates in productions of the Poltava Music and Drama Theater. Here Kozlovsky, in essence, was formed as an opera artist. His repertoire includes arias in “Natalka-Poltavka” and “May Night” by Lysenko, “Eugene Onegin”, “Demon”, “Dubrovsky”, “Pebble” by Moniuszko, such responsible and technically complex parts as Faust, Alfred (“La Traviata ”), Duke (“Rigoletto”).

    In 1924, the singer entered the troupe of the Kharkov Opera House, where he was invited by its leader A.M. Pazovsky. A brilliant debut in Faust and the following performances allowed the young artist to take a leading position in the troupe. A year later, having rejected a tempting and very honorable offer from the famous Mariinsky Theater, the artist arrives at the Sverdlovsk Opera House. In 1926, Kozlovsky’s name first appears on Moscow posters. On the capital stage, the singer made his debut on the stage of the branch of the Bolshoi Theater in the part of Alfred in La Traviata. M.M. Ippolitov-Ivanov said after the performance: “This singer is a promising phenomenon in art…”

    Kozlovsky came to the Bolshoi Theater no longer as a debutant, but as an established master.

    In the very first season of the work of the young singer at the Bolshoi Theater V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko told him at the end of the play “Romeo and Juliet”: “You are an unusually brave person. You go against the current and do not look for sympathizers, throwing yourself into a storm of contradictions that the theater is currently experiencing. I understand that it is difficult for you and many things scare you, but since your bold creative thought inspires you – and this is felt in everything – and your own creative style is visible everywhere, swim without stopping, do not smooth corners and do not expect the sympathy of those to whom you seem strange.”

    But the opinion of Natalia Shpiller: “In the mid-twenties, a new name appeared at the Bolshoi Theater – Ivan Semenovich Kozlovsky. The timbre of the voice, the manner of singing, acting data – everything in the then young artist revealed a pronounced, rare individuality. Kozlovsky’s voice has never been particularly powerful. But the free extraction of sound, the ability to concentrate it allowed the singer to “cut through” large spaces. Kozlovsky can sing with any orchestra and with any ensemble. His voice always sounds clear, loud, without a shadow of tension. Elasticity of breath, flexibility and fluency, unsurpassed ease in the upper register, perfect diction – a truly impeccable vocalist, who over the years has brought his voice to the highest degree of virtuosity … “

    In 1927, Kozlovsky sang the Holy Fool, which became the pinnacle role in the singer’s creative biography and a true masterpiece in the world of performing arts. From now on, this image has become inseparable from the name of its creator.

    Here is what P. Pichugin writes: “… Lensky of Tchaikovsky and the Fool of Mussorgsky. It is difficult to find in all Russian opera classics more dissimilar, more contrasting, even to a certain extent alien in their purely musical aesthetics, images, and meanwhile both Lensky and the Holy Fool are almost equally the highest achievements of Kozlovsky. Much has been written and said about these parts of the artist, and yet it is impossible not to say once again about Yurodivy, the image created by Kozlovsky with incomparable power, which in his performance in Pushkin’s style became the great expression of the “fate of the people”, the voice of the people, the cry of his suffering, the court his conscience. Everything in this scene, performed by Kozlovsky with inimitable skill, from the first to the last word he utters, from the senseless song of the Holy Fool “The month is coming, the kitten is crying” to the famous sentence “You can not pray for Tsar Herod” is full of such bottomless depth, meaning and meaning, such a truth of life (and the truth of art), which raise this episodic role to the brink of the highest tragedy … There are roles in the world theater (there are few of them!), Which have long merged in our imagination with one or another outstanding actor. Such is the holy fool. He will forever remain in our memory as Yurodivy – Kozlovsky.

    Since then, the artist has sung and played about fifty different roles on the opera stage. O. Dashevskaya writes: “On the stage of this famous theater, he sang a variety of parts – lyrical and epic, dramatic, and sometimes tragic. The best of them are the Astrologer (“The Golden Cockerel” by N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov) and Jose (“Carmen” by G. Bizet), Lohengrin (“Lohengrin” by R. Wagner) and the Prince (“Love for Three Oranges” by S. S. Prokofiev), Lensky and Berendey, Almaviva and Faust, Verdi’s Alfred and Duke – it is difficult to list all the roles. Combining philosophical generalization with the accuracy of the character’s social and characteristic features, Kozlovsky created an image that is unique in integrity, capacity and psychological accuracy. “His characters loved, suffered, their feelings were always simple, natural, deep and heartfelt,” recalls singer E.V. Shumskaya.

    In 1938, on the initiative of V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko and under the artistic direction of Kozlovsky, the State Opera Ensemble of the USSR was created. Such famous singers as M.P. Maksakova, I.S. Patorzhinsky, M.I. Litvinenko-Wolgemuth, I.I. Petrov, as consultants – A.V. Nezhdanov and N.S. Golovanov. During the three years of the existence of the ensemble, Ivan Sergeevich has carried out a number of interesting performances of operas in concert performance: “Werther” by J. Massenet, “Pagliacci” by R. Leoncavallo, “Orpheus” by K. Gluck, “Mozart and Salieri” by N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov, “Katerina” N.N. Arcas, “Gianni Schicchi” by G. Puccini.

    Here is what the composer K.A. Korchmarev about the first performance of the ensemble, the opera Werther: “Original brown screens are installed across the entire width of the stage of the Great Hall of the Conservatory. Their top is translucent: the conductor is visible through the slots, bows, vultures and trumpets flash from time to time. In front of the screens there are simple accessories, tables, chairs. In this form, I.S. Kozlovsky made his first directing experience…

    One gets the full impression of a performance, but one in which music plays a dominant role. In this regard, Kozlovsky can consider himself a winner. The orchestra, located on the same platform with the singers, sounds great all the time, but does not drown out the singers. And at the same time, the stage images are alive. They are able to excite, and from this side, this production easily compares with any performance going on stage. Kozlovsky’s experience, as fully justified, deserves great attention.

    During the war, Kozlovsky, as part of the concert brigades, performed in front of the fighters, gave concerts in the liberated cities.

    In the post-war period, in addition to performing as a soloist, Ivan Semenovich continued directing work – staging several operas.

    From the very beginning of his career, Kozlovsky has invariably combined the opera stage with the concert stage. His concert repertoire includes hundreds of works. Here are Bach’s cantatas, Beethoven’s cycle “To a Distant Beloved”, Schumann’s cycle “A Poet’s Love”, Ukrainian and Russian folk songs. A special place is occupied by romances, among the authors – Glinka, Taneyev, Rachmaninov, Dargomyzhsky, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Medtner, Grechaninov, Varlamov, Bulakhov and Gurilev.

    P. Pichugin notes:

    “A significant place in Kozlovsky’s chamber repertoire is occupied by old Russian romances. Kozlovsky not only “discovered” many of them for the listeners, such as, for example, M. Yakovlev’s “Winter Evening” or “I Met You”, which are universally known today. He created a very special style of their performance, free from any kind of salon sweetness or sentimental falsehood, as close as possible to the atmosphere of that natural, “home” music-making, in the conditions of which these little pearls of Russian vocal lyrics were created and sounded at one time.

    Throughout his artistic life, Kozlovsky retains an unchanging love for folk songs. There is no need to say with what sincerity and warmth Ivan Semyonovich Kozlovsky sings Ukrainian songs dear to his heart. Recall the incomparable in his performance “The sun is low”, “Oh, don’t make noise, a puddle”, “Drive a Cossack”, “I marvel at the sky”, “Oh, there’s a cry in the field”, “If I took a bandura”. But Kozlovsky is an amazing interpreter of Russian folk songs as well. It suffices to name such people as “Linden centuries-old”, “Oh yes, you, Kalinushka”, “Ravens, daring”, “Not one path ran in the field.” This last one by Kozlovsky is a real poem, the story of a whole life is told in a song. Her impression is unforgettable.”

    And in old age, the artist does not reduce creative activity. Not a single significant event in the life of the country is complete without the participation of Kozlovsky. At the initiative of the singer, a music school was opened in his homeland in Maryanovka. Here Ivan Semenovich enthusiastically worked with small vocalists, performed with a choir of students.

    Ivan Semenovich Kozlovsky died on December 24, 1993.

    Boris Pokrovsky writes: “I.S. Kozlovsky is a bright page in the history of Russian opera art. Lyrics of the enthusiastic opera poet Tchaikovsky; the grotesque of Prokofiev’s prince in love with three oranges; the eternally young contemplator of beauty Berendey and the singer of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “distant India of miracles”, the radiant envoy of the Grail of Richard Wagner; the seductive Duke of Mantua G. Verdi, his restless Alfred; noble avenger Dubrovsky … Among the large list of superbly performed roles is in the creative biography of I.S. Kozlovsky and a true masterpiece – the image of the Fool in M. Mussorgsky’s opera “Boris Godunov”. The creation of a classical image in the opera house is a very rare phenomenon … The life and creative activity of I.S. Kozlovsky is an example for everyone who has taken on the mission of being an artist and serving the people with his art.

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