Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov (b. 1936, Voronezh, USSR) was one of the major composers of the Soviet cinema in the 1960’s and 70’s. A graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, he scored the first several films of young directors Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky and Andrei Tarkovsky, including the highly-acclaimed Ivan’s Childhood (1962) and Andrei Rublev (1966). Tarkovsky once said, “I cannot imagine a better composer for myself than Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov.” While still in his 20’s, Ovchinnikov was selected to compose and conduct the music for Sergei Bondarchuk’s seven-hour epic War and Peace (1965-1967), which earned an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Between 1971 and 1973, he created new scores for three silent films of Alexander Dovzhenko on the occasion of their restoration by Mosfilm: Earth (1930), Arsenal (1929), and Zvenigora (1927). These large-scale choral and orchestral scores could be considered among his greatest achievements, a powerful marriage of contemporary music and silent cinema.
In honor of his 70th birthday (May 29), we present a selection of the many films which feature music by Ovchinnikov. They include literary adaptations (Sholokhov, Turgenev, Bogomolov), war films (First and Second World Wars, 1918 Ukrainian Bolshevik Revolution), and historical epics (Andrei Rublev). Many of the composer’s scores employ a wide range of musical styles; as Ovchinnikov himself stated, “I had to know how to do it all.”