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The unique compositional style of Yuri Saulsky is recognizable from the first chords, and his songs helped to light up more than one pop star of the Soviet period. A special path of the work of the composer-songwriter is orchestral pop-jazz music. It was this stylistic tandem that turned out to be Saulsky’s real discovery. Films, ballets, musicals, performances and many other directions were under the power of his musical talent.

Young copycat
Legend of domestic jazz, innovator and progressive composer. All this is Yuri Saulsky. He was born in a family of Moscow intellectuals on October 23, 1928. Mom sang in the Alexander Sveshnikov Academic Choir, and Dad was a lawyer and played the piano beautifully. The father introduced his son to the classics, but the boy raved about jazz music. He was drawn to this style, which appeared in the Soviet Union from across the ocean and quickly became not just an object of criticism, but also underground art.

Yuri often ran to the cinemas closest to the house, where the music of the ensemble of the famous Alexander Tsfasman and the melody of the big band sounded by composer Yuri Saulsky Alexander Varlamov. Having absorbed the compositions of the outstanding jazzmen of the Country of Soviets, the young Saulsky came running home and immediately tried to repeat what he heard on his piano.

Even before the war, he passed a competition at the Gnesins’ school and began to learn to play the piano and cello. With the beginning of the first bombing, music had to be left; the whole family was evacuated to Siberia. There, Yuri entered the military music school. He even participated in the victory parade in Moscow in June 1945, playing the horn in a military band.

In those years, the Union was flooded with a mass of captured gimmicks previously unknown to Soviet teenagers weary of war. Saulsky got a radio on which to find the wave of “Voice of America” and secretly listen to programs about his favorite jazz.

Jazz cocktail of Yuri Saulsky
The Moscow jazz Mecca of that time was “Cocktail Hall”, where diplomats, journalists, composers, poets, students and those who were called “dudes” gathered to hear the music of dreams and see real jazz musicians. After the war, one of these musicians in this unique institution was Yuri Saulsky. But already in 1948 in the Soviet Union there was a ban on most musical instruments that were necessary for jazz. Later this decade will be called the era of extension of saxophones.

Saulsky did not give up, did not change his hobby, and at the same time began to study at the conservatory. There he met a violinist, composer Yuri Saulsky married her and in 1952 became his father for the first time. During the day, Yuri comprehended the wisdom of classical music, and in the evenings earned his livelihood by playing jazz.

Teachers predicted the future of a serious musicologist to Saulsky, he graduated with honors from the conservatory and showed great promise in music science, but life put everything in its place. Yuri found himself in the stage, and later again plunged into his favorite genre. Fate brought him to the great jazzman, “the second trumpet of the world” – Eddie Rosner. He survived the war, camps and prohibitions of jazz. Work with this creator has become for Saulsky the best professional school. Together they wrote music for Eldar Ryazanov’s film “Carnival Night”. In the film, the director even shot an episode with the Rosner Orchestra.

The illusion of freedom
The World Youth Festival, which took place in Moscow in the summer of 1957, was a grand event for the Soviet Union. Students were able to communicate with their peers from 130 countries of the world who brought a sip of freedom to the USSR. And the jazz competition held as part of the festival was completely unbelievable. The second place in the music competition went to the orchestra of the Central House of Art Workers under the direction of Yuri Saulsky.

For all the time of the Soviet era, there has never been such a youthful upliftment and inspiration. Then, from many parts of the country, prisoners of the Stalinist camps returned to the composer Yuri Saulsky capital, the country was reborn after a bloody war and this festival was the first wind of freedom. However, very quickly his breath was stopped, and the Yuri Saulsky Orchestra was attacked by the propaganda press. He was accused of imitating foreign music, clothing style and cheeky behavior on stage.

The situation every day only worsened and led to the fact that Yuri Saulsky for several years was deprived of the opportunity to officially work. He earned a living by creating custom arrangements.

In 1960, the wave of persecution calmed down a bit, and Yuri headed the capital’s music hall, a couple of years later he was even accepted into the Union of Composers of the USSR, and then he was allowed to create the VIO-66 orchestra, in which the composer gathered the best jazz musicians of the country.

Love from the first sound
In the fall of 1966, Valentina Tolkunova, a student at the Gnessin Institute, came to the Saulsky Orchestra to audition. Rumor has it that the voice of the young singer immediately broke the heart of the team leader. Two months later, they got married, although Valentine was getting ready to marry another.

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