Search Pytheas   use Pytheas SiteSearch   need help searching?  

Giya Kancheli (1935-     )

Giya Kancheli, composer After the fall of the Soviet Union, Giya Kancheli emerged into international fame as one of the country's composers who resisted the official pressure to conform to an approved realist style. Georgia has its own unique religious, folk, and classical music traditions. Georgian composers, and those of other "exotic" republics, were encouraged to add their regional traditions to the approved Russian style of classical music as a way of appealing to the nationalism of all major Soviet regions. Thus, Kancheli was able to study his musical roots as well as Western techniques when he entered the Tbilisi Conservatory in 1959. He studied composition with I. Tuskiya and remained there until 1963. After graduation, Kancheli began working as a freelance composer. He did not take an academic position or join a Soviet musical organization to support himself. He composed popular music in the Georgian folk style as well as a large amount of film music. Meanwhile, he developed his own classical and symphonic styles, working toward an ideal that combined avant-garde ideas with elements of the most ancient Georgian religious and folk music, though it should be noted that he never directly quotes material in his concert works. From 1964 to 1995 he wrote at least 38 film scores and found that Communist Party arts and music officials did not pay much attention to the style of film scores, and so he was frequently able to use some of his newest musical thought in these works. In addition, he wrote a considerable amount of incidental music for theatrical productions. Kancheli had joined fellow Russian composers like Shostakovich, Gubaidulina, Schnittke, Pärt, and Artyomov in cloaking his agenda in musical symbolism. But as openness (glasnost) became a Soviet policy, the works gained more overt titles, such as Bright Sorrow and Life Without Christmas. In 1990, the first significant Western recording of Kancheli works was released, including the Third Symphony and the Sixth Symphony, which were widely praised, and both of which show a clear influence from Shostakovich. Yet, there was a striving for religious ecstasy that sets Kancheli's music apart from Shostakovich's. In addition, there are elements drawn from indigenous and historic Georgian music, with trance-like drones and strange, otherworldly orchestration, often featuring the alto flute, an idea consciously borrowed from American jazz arranger Gil Evans. Kancheli's tendency toward even, treading motions is based on his great fondness for the conclusion of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, and orchestrational styles derive from such film composers as Michel Legrand and Nino Rota. In 1991, following the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Kancheli left the political uncertainties of his homeland and settled for a few years in Berlin, and then moved on to Antwerp in 1995.
Joseph Stevenson/AllMusic

COMPOSITIONS                                                     Kancheli Links     ~ ~ ~     Works by Genre    ~ ~ ~    Kancheli on Kancheli
[under construction]
Concerto for Orchestra, 1961
Quintet, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1961
Largo and Allegro, piano, timpani, string orchestra, 1963
The Accusation (incidental music, play by Robert Sturua, Georgi Kavtaradze), 1964
A Sunlit Night (incidental music, play by Nodar Dumbadze), 1966
Le Chapeau de Paille d’Italie (incidental music, play by Eugène Labiche), 1967
Symphony No. 1, large orchestra, 1967
Khanuma’s Merry Tricks (incidental music, play by Avksenty Tsagareli), 1968, revised 1973
The Good Women of Setzuan (incidental music, play by Bertolt Brecht), 1969
Symphony No. 2, ‘Chants’, large orchestra, 1970
Medea (incidental music, play by Jean Anouilh), 1971
Symphony No. 3, mezzo-soprano/countertenor/tenor, large orchestra, 1973
The Party Committee Secretary (incidental music, play by R. Tabukashvili), 1974
Symphony No. 4, ‘In Memoria di Michelangelo’, 4 off-stage church bells, large orchestra, 1974
The Caucasian Chalk Circle (incidental music, play by Bertolt Brecht), 1975
Grandma, Iliko, Illarion, and Myself (incidental music, play by Nodar Dumbadze, Georgi Lordkipanidze), 1977
Symphony No. 5, ‘In Memory of My Parents’, large orchestra, 1977
Easy Money (incidental music, play by Aleksandr Ostrovsky), 1978
Richard III (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 1979
The Rôle for a Débutante (incidental music, play by Tamaz Chiladzed), 1979
Symphony No. 6, 2 violas, large orchestra, 1978-80, revised 1981
As You Like It (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 1980
Blue Horses on Red Grass (incidental music, play by Mikhail Shatrov), 1980
Belle from Amherst (incidental music, play by David H. Lewis), 1981
The Centenary (gala celebration for the Rustaveli Theatre), 1981
Samanishvili’s Stepmother (incidental music, play by Vladimir Kostantinov, Boris Ratser, after D. Kldiashvili), 1981
Variations on a Contemporary Theme (incidental music, dialogue with the spectators by Robert Sturua), 1981
Music for the Living (2 act opera, libretto by Robert Sturua), 1982-84, revised 1999
Lichte Trauer (requiem, texts by Tabidze, Goethe, Shakespeare, Pushkin), 2 boy sopranos, boys’ chorus, large orch, 1984-85
Symphony No. 7, ‘Epilogue’, large orchestra, 1986, revised 1991
Electra (incidental music, play by Sophocles), 1987
King Lear (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 1987
Mother Courage and Her Children (incidental music, play by Bertolt Brecht), 1988
Oedipus rex (incidental music, play by Sophocles), 1989
Tartuffe (incidental music, play by Jean-Baptiste Molière), 1989
Vom Winde beweint (liturgy, in memoriam Givi Ordzhonikidze), viola and orch (1989) [also arr. for cello & orch, 1996]
Life without Christmas, 1990-92 (each of its four sections may be performed separately)
    - Morning Prayers, alto flute, bass guitar, piano, 19 strings, tape, 1990
    - Midday Prayers, boy soprano, clarinet, small orchestra [19 players], 1990-91
    - Evening Prayers, 8 altos, small orchestra, 1991
    - Night Prayers, string quartet, tape, 1992 [also version for soprano saxophone, string orchestra, tape, 1994]
Abii ne viderem, alto flute, bass guitar, piano, string orchestra, 1992 (also version for viola, bass gt, piano, string orch, 1993)
The Comedy of Errors (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 1992
Hamlet (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 1992
Noch einen Schritt…, off-stage viola, orchestra, tape, 1992
Flügellos, large orchestra, 1993
My Psalm, soprano, alto flute, viola, cello, double bass, synthesizer, 1993
Psalm 23, soprano, small orchestra, 1993 (later incorporated into Exil; may be performed separately)
Exil (texts by P. Celan, H. Sahl, Old Testament), soprano, alto fl (+ bass fl), vln, va, vc, db, synth, 1993-94 (incorporates Psalm 23)
Caris Mere, soprano, viola, 1994
Having Wept, cello, 1994 (also version for violin, string orchestra, tape, 1994)
Lament (concerto, text by Hans Sahl, in memoriam Luigi Nono), soprano, violin, large orchestra, 1994
Magnum ignotum, flute/alto flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, double bass, tape, 1994
Trauerfarbenes Land, large orchestra, 1994
Violin and Voice, violin, string orchestra, tape, 1994
…à la Duduki, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, orchestra, 1995
Macbeth (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 1995
Rag-Gidon-Time, violin, piano, 1995 (also version for violin, viola, cello, 1999)
Simi, cello, large orchestra, 1995
Instead of a Tango, violin, double bass, piano, bandoneon, 1996 (also version for piano, 1998)
Lamara (incidental music, play by Grigol Robakidse), 1996
Measure for Measure (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 1996
Time…and Again, violin, piano, 1996 (also version for violin, viola, cello, 1998)
Valse Boston, piano, string orchestra, 1996
Diplipito (text from ancient Georgian sources), countertenor, gtr, vc, bass gtr, pf, perc, string orch, 1996-97
In l’Istesso Tempo, violin, viola, cello, piano, 1997
With a Smile for Slava, cello, piano, 1997
Childhood Revisited, oboe, bass guitar, piano, string orchestra, 1998
The Serpent Woman (incidental music, play by Carlo Gozzi), 1998
Sio, piano, percussion, string orchestra, 1998
And Farewell Goes out Sighing…, countertenor, violin, large orchestra, 1999
Coriolanus (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 1999
Hamlet (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 1999
Rokwa, large orchestra, 1999
Styx, mixed chorus, viola, orchestra, 1999
…Al niente, large orchestra, 2000
Eine kleine Daneliade, violin, piano, percussion, string orchestra, 2000
Ergo, large orchestra, 2000
The Merchant of Venice (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 2000
Twelfth Night (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), 2001
Don’t Grieve (text: Dylan Thomas, W.H. Auden, various Georgian, Russian poets), baritone, string orchestra, 2002
Fingerprints, large orchestra, 2002
Lonesome, violin, large orchestra, 2002
Sinior Todero (incidental music, play by Carlo Goldoni), 2002
Warzone, large orchestra, 2002
Little Imber, solo voice, children's and men's choirs and small ensemble (2003)
Twilight (2004)
Amao Omi, chorus and saxophone quartet (2005)
Ex Contrario (2006)
Kapote (2006)
Silent Prayer (Stilles Gebet) (2007)
Broken Chant (2007)
Lulling the Sun (2008)
Ninna Nanna Per Anna, flute and string orchestra (or string quartet) (2008)
Dixi (2009)
Brücken zu Bach (Bridges to Bach) (2010)
Ilori (2010)
Chiaroscuro, string quartet (2011)
[under construction . . . ]

WORKS BY GENRE                                                         Kancheli Links     ~ ~ ~    Kancheli on Kancheli     ~ top of page ~
[under construction]



Soloist(s) w/Orchestra

Chorus w/Orchestra



Instrument and Piano

Solo Instrument



The Children of the Sea, 1964 (Konstantine Pipinashvili)
An Unusual Exhibition, 1968 (Eldar Shengelaya)
Don’t Grieve, 1969 (Georgi Daneliya)
The Jug, 1970 (I. Kvirikadze)
Peola, 1970 (Baadur Tsuladze)
I’m a Detective, 1971 (Giorgi Kalatozishvili)
The Neighbours, 1971 (Rezo Charkhalashvili)
Gladiator, 1972 (Baadur Tsuladze)
When Almonds Blossomed, 1972 (Lana Gogoberidze)
The Eccentrics, 1973 (Eldar Shengelaya)
Sea Wolf, 1973 (Rezo Charkhalashvili)
White Stones, 1973 (T. Palavandishvili)
The Captains, 1974 (T. Gomelauri)
A Captive in the Caucasus, 1975 (Giorgi Kalatozishvili)
A Caucasian Romance, 1975 (A. Darsavelidze, Rezo Gabriadze)
The Knights-Errant, 1975 (T. Palavandishvili)
Mimino, 1977 (Georgi Daneliya)
The Races, 1977 (G. Gomelauri)
A Caucasian Tale, 1978 (Giorgi Kalatozishvili)
Le Cinéma, 1978 (Liana Eliava)
Samanishvili’s Stepmother, 1978 (Eldar Shengelaya)
The Call of the Ancestors, 1979 (T. Lordkipanidze, T. Chokhonelidze)
The Quarry, 1979 (P. Charkviani)
Several Interviews on Personal Matters, 1979 (Lana Gogoberidze)
It’s Thy Son, Oh Earth, 1980 (Rezo Chkheidze)
The Stray Bullet (Vasily Kikvidze), 1980 (Gizo Gabeskiriye, Giorgi Kalatozishvili)
Tears were Falling, 1982 (Georgi Daneliya)
Amiran’s Fairy Tales, 1983 (G. Levashov-Tumanishvili)
Blue Mountains, or Unbelievable Story, 1983 (Eldar Shengelaya)
Ratili, 1983 (Giorgi Kalatozishvili)
And Snow Fell on White Orchards, 1984 (G. Levashov-Tumanishvili)
The Day Lasts Longer than the Night, 1984 (Lana Gogoberidze)
Dies irae, 1985 (Sulambek Mamilov)
The Flow of Life, 1986 (Lana Gogoberidze)
Kin-Dza-Dza, 1986 (Georgi Daneliya)
The End of the World, 1987 (T. Lioznova)
Passport, 1990 (Georgi Daneliya)
The Wilderness, 1991 (Mikhail Kats)
Hélas pour moi, 1993 (Jean-Luc Godard)
Heads and Tails, 1995 (Georgi Daneliya)
The Comic Owls, 1996
The Pitcher, 1996
Emporte-moi, 1999 (Léa Pool)
Fortuna, 2000 (Georgi Daneliya)
The Quickie, 2001 (Sergei Bodrov)
Bear’s Kiss, 2002 (Sergei Bodrov)

Siberian Grandfather, 1973 (Giorgi Kalatozishvili)
Don Quixote, 1988 (Rezo Chkheidze)


KANCHELI  LINKS                                                   Works by Genre     ~ ~ ~    Kancheli on Kancheli      ~ top of page ~
[under construction]
Giya Kancheli - Composer Profile (Julie Williams, MusicWeb International)
Giya Kancheli - A Conversation with Bruce Duffie (
Giya Kancheli: ‘Lingering’ in Limbo (Alexandra Ivanoff, Today's Zaman)
Giya Kancheli: The Music of a Georgian Dualist (Ian MacDonald, Music Under Soviet Rule)
Giya Kancheli’s Exil: The Spirituality of Motifs (Chiara Bertoglio, British Postgraduate Musicology)
Giya Kancheli's "Songbook" Of Calm Spaces (Tom Huizenga, NPR)

Composer website (at Sikorski Publishing)   . . .   contact Giya Kancheli:  here

Kancheli @ Wikipedia
Kancheli @
Kancheli @ Audiophile Audition (via Google Advanced Search)
Kancheli @ Classic Cat
Kancheli @ Classical Archives
Kancheli @ Classical Composers Database
Kancheli @ Classical Net
Kancheli @ ClassicsToday (via Google Advanced Search)
Kancheli @ composition:today
Kancheli @ Facebook
Kancheli @ IMDb (Internet Movie Database)
Kancheli @ InstantEncore
Kancheli @ IRCAM
Kancheli @ Klassika
Kancheli @ The Living Composer Project
Kancheli @ Molinari Quartet
Kancheli @ Music Under Soviet Rule
Kancheli @ MusicWeb International
Kancheli @
Kancheli @ The New York Times
Kancheli @ Nonesuch Records
Kancheli @ G. Schirmer
Kancheli @ Onno van Rijen's Soviet Composers Page

Kancheli @ G. Schirmer
Kancheli @ Sikorski

Streaming Audio
Kancheli @ Classical Archives
Kancheli @
Kancheli @ MySpaceMusic
Kancheli @
Kancheli @ SoundCloud

Kancheli @
Kancheli @ ArkivMusic
Kancheli @ CD Universe
Kancheli @ ClassicsOnline
Kancheli @ Discogs
Kancheli @ ECM Records
Kancheli @ itunes
Kancheli @ Naxos
Kancheli @ Nonesuch Records

Kancheli @ YouTube
Kancheli @ Google Video
Kancheli @ Vimeo (via Google Advanced Search)
                                                                                                                                                                                   ~ top of page ~
Kancheli on Kancheli: In Conversation with Amy Beth Kirsten (VIDEO)

. . . and check out more    Composers Speak on the Web    at Pytheas


HOME           ABOUT           RESOURCES           COMPOSERS           PERFORMANCES           20/21 ENSEMBLE           CONTACT US