Александр Стругов


My Musical Biography

“He was born into a family of musicians, learned to play piano at the age of four, and wrote his first piano piece at the age of five.”

You can say this about some other people, but not at all about me.

My parents were both construction engineers by profession –  a typical Soviet Union couple. My mom was of a practical kind, trying to make both ends meet while raising her two sons, and remained indifferent to any sort of art until the end of her life. However, my dad was of a rather romantic type and possessed a decent baritone, which he practiced mostly in the shower, singing popular opera arias and Russian romances.

I remember our family gatherings: when I, a brave boy encouraged by adults, sang a song, my grandmother used to say, “A bear must have stepped on your ear.” Professionals confirmed this many times afterwards when at school choir auditions (there was a compulsory conscription when they needed to recruit new members )  I was always rejected after singing a couple of notes. Nevertheless, I was even glad, because I preferred football to the bore of a choir singing. 

I can recollect that day clearly. It was the early spring in Khabarovsk city, the first days of March.  I was twelve then, I think. We were playing football in the schoolyard covered with fresh snow, dazzlingly white under the first spring sun. The sky above us had already acquired that blueish spring depth so we could see that the world was infinite behind it and we, teenagers, all felt that we were about to venture to explore it soon.

The day was so bright and warm, and the snow on the asphalt near the neighboring apartment building was steaming. Some windows were open, and I watched curiously as someone installed on the windowsill the huge loudspeakers – a possession worth to be proud of in the Soviet Union. We continued to play football when it happened – the guy in the window pressed the button on his tape-recorder.

Before that, I had never paid attention to music around me. Voices and music on our kitchen wire radio or on our simple two-channel TV had such a poor quality that they sounded like the creaking and squeaking of beetles in the matchbox and it was always only a background for my breakfasts before leaving for school or going to sleep. Now I was stunned. I had never heard anything like this before. I had never imagined that such low and high frequencies existed. I asked my football friends what it was. Now I know it forever. It was “We Will Rock You” sung by  Freddie Mercury in his prime.

I know for sure that any child has a bubble around him, a bubble separating him from the adult’s world, a bubble filled with special air - ether or other substance, which only a child can breathe.  Sounds, smells, orders, prayers, rules or notions from the outside adults' world can penetrate the bubble, but inside it they acquire different unexpected qualities, take strange forms and aren't always perceived by children  in the way they were intended to. Then, as a child grows, the bubble becomes thinner and thinner, until suddenly an ordinary thing happens and it is punctured by the first love, by an offense, or by a small loss, and the child has to breathe in the air of this planet and then he is not a child any longer.

So, my music-proof bubble was punctured approximately in 1977-1978 and the matter of music gradually surrounded me  – with J.S. Bach’s cosmic clarity and infinity, in the first place.  My dream was to compose an opera, but now I realize that without a proper musical education it is bound to remain just a dream. However, as a lyricist I feel the ability and the strength to write an opera libretto.