Alfred Schnittke (24 November 1934, Engels, Russia – 3 August 1998, Hamburg, Germany) was a Jewish–Catholic–German–Russian composer who enjoyed great fame in Russia and Europe in the last three decades of his life. Living in Moscow for most of his adult life, he composed over 250 different works, including eight symphonies (a ninth was left unfinished at his death), four string quartets, a number of concertos for a variety of instruments, and three operas. From 1985 onward Schnittke had to contend with his increasingly frail health (he suffered a series of strokes and had to learn how to hold a pen all over again in order to compose his music), while at the same time composing some of his greatest works. In the words of Alexander Ivashkin, in his authoritative biography of Schnittke, “With Schnittke’s music we are possibly standing at the end of the great symphonic route from Mahler to Shostakovich.”
- Ivashkin, Alexander. Alfred Schnittke (London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1996), p. 216.