Isaak Osipovich Dunayevsky
(Исаак Осипович Дунаевский
; 30 January
Lokhvitsa, Poltava - 25 July 1955
) was a Soviet composer
and conductor, who specialized in "light music" for operetta
and film comedies, frequently working with the film director Grigory Aleksandrov
Dunayevsky studied at the Kharkiv Musical School in 1910 where he studied violin under Joseph Achron (1886-1943). During this period he started to study the theory of music under Semyon Bogatyrev (1890-1960). He graduated in 1919 from the Kharkiv Conservatory. At first he was a violinist, the leader of the orchestra in Kharkiv. Then he started a conducting career. In 1924 he went to Moscow to run the Theatre Hermitage. After that he worked in Leningrad (1929-1941) as a director and conductor of the "Music-Hall" (1929-1934) and then moved to Moscow to work on his operettas and film music.
He was named a People's Artist of the USSR (1950) and was awarded the USSR State Prize (twice in 1941, 1951), two orders, and many medals (for instance, the Order of the Red Labour Banner, the Order of the Red Star, and the Badge of Honour).
His brother Semyon (1906-1986) was a conductor, another brother Zinovy (1908-1981) was a composer.
Dunayevsky was married twice. He had a son Yevgeny (b. 1932) by his wife Zinaida Sudeikina, and another son Maksim (b. 1945) by his lover, the ballerina Zoya Pashkova. Maksim was also a well-known composer, and continues the traditions of his father in musicals and operettas.
He died of a heart attack. His last piece, the operetta "White Acacia" (1955), was left unfinished at his death, and it was completed by Kirill Molchanov and staged on November 15, 1955, in Moscow.
An previously unknown opera libretto "Rachel" (1943) by Mikhail Bulgakov, was later found in his archive. The libretto was based on Guy de Maupassant’s Mademoiselle Fifi. Published in a book by Naum Shafer (see references and links below).
A book of his essays and memoirs was published after his death, in 1961.
He wrote 14 operettas, 3 ballets, 3 cantatas, 80 choruses, 80 songs and romances, music for 88 plays and 42 films, 43 compositions for light music orchestra and 12 for jazz orchestra, 17 melodeclamations
, 52 compositions for symphony orchestra and 47 piano compositions and a string quartet.
He was one of the first composers in the Soviet Union to start using jazz. His music was accessible to the masses, with melodious and memorable tunes that secured his success.
In a reply to the British book The World of Music, he listed the following as his chief works: The Golden Valley operetta (1937), The Free Wind operetta (1947), music to the film "Circus" (1935), and music to the film "The Kuban Cossacks" (1949).
- "The Tranquillity of the Faun", ballet (1924)
- "Murzilka", ballet for children (1924)
- "For Us and You", operetta (1924)
- "Bridegrooms", ("Женихи") operetta (1926)
- "The Knives", ("Ножи") operetta (1928)
- "Polar Passions", operetta (1928)
- "Million Langours", operetta (1932)
- "Jolly Fellows" ("Весёлые ребята") film music (1934), including Serdtse
- "Three Friends" ("Три товарища") film music (1935)
- Circus_(1936_film) "Circus" ("Цирк") film music (1936)
- "The Golden Valley" ("Золотая долина") operetta (1937)
- "Volga-Volga" ("Волга-Волга") film music (1938)
- "The Roads to Happiness", ("Дороги к счастью") operetta (1939)
- "Moscow", suite for solovoices, chorus and orchestra (1941)
- "The Wind of Liberty" ("Вольный ветер") operetta (1947)
- "The Son of the Clown" ("Сын клоуна") operetta (1950)
- "Glory of the Railwaymen", cantata
- "Our Homeland May Flourish!", cantata
- Ballet Suite for orchestra
- Suite on Chinese themes for orchestra
- Rhapsody on Songs of the people of the Soviet Union for jazz orchestra
- "The Musicstore" for jazz orchestra
- String Quartet
- Music to the Film "Song of the Fatherland"
- Requiem for narrator and quintet
- Song of Stalin for chorus and orchestra
- "White Acacia" ("Белая акация") operetta (1955, completed by Kirill Molchanov)
- Pieces for chamber orchestra
- Incidental music for theatre and cinema
- Kommissarskaya, M. Dunayevsky, the article in "Tvorcheskiye biografii Kompozitorov", Moscow, 1989 (in Russian)
- Shafer, Naum “Dunayevsky Today” Moscow, Sovetsky Kompozitor, 1988 (in Russian)