We can thank British musician Stephen Coates, of the band The Real Tuesday Weld, for belatedly bringing Tariverdiev’s music to the west. Some years ago, Coates was sheltering from the cold in a Moscow café with a friend. Fascinated by the music that was playing, he asked a waitress about it and was told it was “something from the old times.” The music turned out to be the soundtrack for the cult ’60s Soviet film Goodbye Boys, composed by Mikael Tariverdiev. Coates had to find out more.
Tariverdiev was a prolific, award-winning composer and film soundtrack artist in Soviet Russia. Born in Georgia in 1931 to Armenian parents, he went on to study at Moscow’s Gnessin, under the tutelage of Aram Khachaturian, before authoring many dozens of compositions, including concertos, romances and lighter pieces, as well as more than 30 major film and TV themes, before his death in 1996. His immense talent, and the incredible popularity of his work, granted the composer a level of creative freedom rare in the USSR.
Although a major star behind the iron curtain, Tariverdiev has remained practically unknown in the west, something that feels criminal when you hear the beauty of his music, which ranges from intimate, chanson-like songs to seductively melodic chamber works, grand orchestral themes, cool jazz interludes and various stations in between. Fortunately, the estimable Earth label is about to change all that with the issue of Film Music, a deluxe, limited edition, 51-track, three-disc compilation of some of the great man’s movie music.
Compiled by his widow, Vera Tariverdieva, together with Coates (in association with his publishing company, Antique Beat), Film Music includes a selection of the composer’s greatest tracks, including many previously unreleased versions. All were made with new transfers from original tapes on Tariverdiev’s own reel-to-reel machine.
Imagine a composer whose work is equal parts (and equally as persuasive as that of) Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, Krzysztof Komeda and George Brassens and you begin to understand the genius of Mikael Tariverdiev.