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Essential Kats-Chernin

By turns witty and wistful, sassy and sophisticated, playful and melancholic, Elena Kats-Chernin's cosmopolitan musical language draws on numerous traditions – from tango to klezmer – to create an immediately engaging aesthetic universe all its own.Read more…

Kats-Chernin was born in Uzbekistan (in 1957) and studied at Moscow's Gnessin School before emigrating to Australia in 1975. After graduating from the New South Wales Conservatory, she took up a scholarship to study in Germany with Helmut Lachenmann. While her studies saw her engage with composers of the avant garde and their techniques, her earliest musical loves included such staples of the Russian repertoire as Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev; she has more recently cited her admiration for Ravel. She employs a broad variety of techniques and instrumentation, including electronics, and a five-year period in the late 80s saw her abandon concert music entirely to write only for the theatre.

As a pianist herself, much of her output is based around that instrument, as well as works written for and inspired by friends and collaborators. But Kats-Chernin has also composed in all genres for soloists, orchestras, opera and ballet companies across the globe, with a special focus on Australia and Germany. With their characteristic mixture of mischief and inventiveness, rhythmic incisiveness and memorable melodies, her works reach audiences well beyond the boundaries of the usual classical music world. Her music has featured on TV ads as well as at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympic games.

When asked in a 2003 interview how she would describe her music to someone unfamiliar with it, she responded with two words: "Just listen".

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