Born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1937, Valentin Silvestrov is one of the finest composers of contemporary classical music. During the 1960s he was one of the leading exponents of the Kiev avant-garde and at that time his work was harshly criticized by the proponents of the conservative Soviet musical aesthetic. But over time, starting from the ‘70s, his style evolved into a new musical reality, one he defined as highly poetic, calling it ‘metamusic’ or ‘metaphorical music’. In a certain way, "metamusic" stands for a universal style or language, "a general 'dictionary’ that belongs to no one but can be used by anyone in his or her own way."
Since the beginning of the 21th century, Silvestrov has been working with small forms, composing more than six hundred pieces, mostly for piano, including waltzes, lullabies, postludes, pastorales, serenades. In these pieces, which he describes as ‘bagatelles’, the melody plays a central role. Silvestrov strongly believes in fact that melody is an important precondition for the survival of Music and, as he declared: “only the melody makes music eternal”.
Using traditional tonal and modal techniques, Silvestrov creates a unique and delicate tapestry of dramatic and emotional textures, qualities which the composer suggests are otherwise sacrificed in much of contemporary music. Borrowing the words of the music critic Tatjana Frumkis: “Silvestrov’s music is in a permanent balance between the existent and non-existent, between sound and sonorous silence”.