Russian composer Andrei Petrov, known equally for his film music (with more than 80 cinema and TV credits) and classical compositions over a career of almost 50 years, died of a brain hemorrhage in his native St. Petersburg Feb. 15, He was 75.
While Russian audiences know, in many cases by heart, the film numbers and scores he composed for popular Soviet directors like Eldar Ryazanov and Georgy Daneliya from the 1960s onwards, Petrov’s international reputation rests on his work in opera, ballet, and symphonies. Most noted is his ballet “The Creation of the World,” first staged in 1971 with Mikhail Baryshnikov in a lead role, which went on to be performed in more than 60 productions around the world.
Born in Leningrad, Petrov graduated from that city’s conservatory in 1954. Debuting with a number for the 1962 hit film “The Amphibian Man,” he wrote theme songs and scores for the likes of Daneliya’s “I Step Through Moscow” and “Autumn Marathon,” Ryazanov’s “Beware of the Car,” “Office Romance,” “Station for Two” and “Cruel Romance.” Prolific over the decades, he worked with directors of very different styles, from those two directors’ gentler comedies to the bleaker moods of Alexei German Sr.’s 1998 “Khrustalyev, My Car!”
On the classical front, his first ballet “Coast of Hope” premiered in 1958, and he won a second State Prize in 1976 for his opera “Peter the Great” (the first such award had come in 1967 for his film work to date).
His international work also included scoring George Cukor’s 1976 Elizabeth Taylor-starrer “The Blue Bird.” He was a member of the Cannes festival jury in 1981.
Petrov was honored widely with national and international prizes, and appointed to various official positions: he orchestrated Glinka’s “Patriotic Song” as a new Russian national anthem after the breakup of the USSR (the original Soviet music returned in 2001). From 1964 he headed the Leningrad branch of the Soviet Composers’ Union.
Last year he premiered what would prove his final symphony, titled “Farewell To…” — “not a requiem, but a remembrance of all the beautiful world, to which sadly we have finally to bid farewell,” as Petrov described it.