Arbatsky, Yury

Alternative names
Birth 1911-04-15
Death 1963-09-03

Biographical notes:

Russian composer, musicologist, and authority on the music and customs of the Balkan rural population.

Born in Moscow in 1911, Arbatsky and his family fled from the Bolshevists in 1924. He studied music in Prague, Dresden (with Sergei Rachmaninoff), and Leipzig, served as senior organist and conductor to the Cathedral of Belgrade, and, despite almost insurmountable difficulties with the Nazis, composed eight symphonies, and numerous works for chamber groups, piano, and organ. Field work as a folklorist and musicologist in the Balkans led Arbatsky to study the secret techniques of performance of the native rural musicians, and his training on ancient Balkan instruments such as the "dipla" (double pipe), "roga" (Balkan bagpipe), and "tupan" (two-skinned drum), allowed him to understand the spiritual life of these peoples. In the post-war years, he again suffered torture, starvation, and prison camps, this time at the hands of the Russians, but finally succeeded in immigrating to the United States, where he settled in Chicago in 1950. His collection at the Newberry Library includes nine transcriptions of secret recordings he made of Aruman shepherds playing the dipla.

From the description of Passacaglia für Orgel : (i. Fassung), Aug. 1937. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 50727754


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  • Music--Manuscripts--Belgrade
  • Passacaglias (Organ)
  • Organ music--Scores


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  • Serbia (as recorded)
  • Serbia--Belgrade (as recorded)