Composer Sauli Zinovjev (b. 1988) is even harder to pin down stylistically than is usually the case in today’s pluralist cultural environment. When he won 3rd prize for Gryf in the International Uuno Klami Composition Competition in 2014, the most striking description of his work was this: “Zinovjev’s aesthetic is characterised by a wonderful idealism underlining the beauty of the composition.”

Zinovjev considers communication and beauty to be the cornerstones of his work as a composer. Audiences come to concerts to immerse themselves in music and shut out the outside world; Zinovjev provides them with a world where everything is accessible and aesthetically pleasing. Composition techniques and stylistic issues are less important than immediacy and vibrancy.

Zinovjev has no high-flying ideals of beauty. Growing up in the home of his grandfather, a visual artist, he learned that creating an artwork requires a disciplined effort. He began exploring his musical creativity through performing and songwriting in a progressive rock band. He still likes King Crimson, but his focus shifted when he heard György Cziffra perform music by Liszt. This transformed classical music for him from a museum exhibit into a living art where the key characteristics of music appear in a pure and refined form.

Zinovjev graduated from the Lahti Conservatory with a piano diploma in spring 2010 and went on to study composition at the Sibelius Academy. He appreciates the compositional tools provided by his teacher Tapio Nevanlinna; much of Zinovjev’s music is outlined through drawing and writing. He also spent a very rewarding year in Karlsruhe in 2013–2014, where Professor Wolfgang Rihm gave him a free hand to study composing simply by writing music, and this method worked for him. It was in Germany that he wrote the prize-winning Gryf.

Sauli Zinovjev lives in Helsinki and pursues a regular regime of sitting at the piano writing music every day. He enjoys visual art, has an active social life and is passionate about music in all its various forms.

Kare Eskola
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

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Sauli Zinovjev is currently taking part in New Music Theatre project.