Composed to commemorate the end of the most difficult year in recent history, this march by Gennady Stolyarov II conveys both the struggle and turbulence of the year left behind and the aspiration toward a brighter future. The piece is one of contrast and duality; it does not always move in the direction of brightness, since as the pandemic has taught us, there can be both incremental improvements and (sometimes sudden and dramatic) setbacks. Nor does the piece end definitively in a major or minor key; it ends in the key of C, but which C? The outcome of the battle between progress (potentially exponential progress) and ruin (potentially catastrophic ruin) is up to us humans to determine in 2021 and far beyond. And yet this composition also uses the principles of harmony to convey its moods, because it is through such a structured approach that humans ultimately rescue meaning out of the chaos and have a chance to restore order to a turbulent world.
Because 2020 was a year during which solitude became the default and the norm, this piece is written for solo piano, which also suggests that the conflict between progress and ruin is one that is experienced and participated in by each individual uniquely on that individual’s terms. Humankind is not really marching forward together and is perhaps more divided than ever; rather, the efforts and choices of each individual are what ultimately chart the trajectory of the long arc of history. Also, this march is one that can actually be played by an individual human!
This march was composed by Mr. Stolyarov during December 21-24, 2020, and is played using the MuseScore 3.0 software.
This is a determined, uplifting march composed by Gennady Stolyarov II for piano, violin, and cello – intended to be played by a human ensemble. As the decade of the 2010s concludes, this composition expresses the hope that a better future awaits for the entirety of humankind.
This march was composed by Mr. Stolyarov in October-December 2019, and is played using the MuseScore 3.0 software.
Four orchestral variations in a late 19th-century style build upon a piano theme begun by Mr. Stolyarov in 2002 and subsequently rediscovered and completed in 2018. The strong chords and frequent major-minor contrasts evoke the dramatic, sweeping views of the Carson Valley, which often encompass multiple contrasting weather phenomena.
Symphony No. 1, Op. 86, was composed by Gennady Stolyarov II between June 2017 and January 2018 and is subtitled “The Contemporary World”. Mr. Stolyarov intended this symphony to be a commentary on the world and U.S. events of 2016-2017, during which civilization was severely tested. Each of the first three movements depicts the epistemic, political, and material crises which befell much of the world during this time period and threatened to undo much of the progress that civilization achieved up to that time. The choice to have the fourth movement be about preserving the good aspects of historical and contemporary life was motivated by the observation that, although severely strained and beset by setbacks from both nature and society, our civilization did not ultimately collapse during 2017, and we have made it thus far. Watch a video version of the entire symphony on YouTube here.
Movement 1 – Uncertainty – Length: 6:51
The main melody is at once ominous and much more restrained than it could be – evoking an individual seeking to focus and chart a path through an environment where little is predictable and previous understandings of the terrain he navigated have shown to be faulty. What can he hope to achieve, what can he rely upon, and whom can he trust? Various other themes in this movement show elements of longing for a bygone (though relatively recent) time, determination, and hope (though will it be disappointed hope?) – although in the background there is a certain din of uncertainty that leads each melody to be a bit less free-flowing or expressive than it would be if composed during a calmer era. This movement poses the question, “What will become of our world, and what will this era do to each of our lives?”
This movement displays the cyclical and protracted struggle between two colossal forces, neither of them benign. Both of them actually resemble one another in substance (although they are in different keys – A minor and C minor – but which of these represents the Right and which represents the Left, and does it make any difference?). There are segments in which the keys are mixed – representing one force seeking to wrest power from the other – with the ultimate outcome being the same melody in a different key. This pattern continues over the course of multiple variations and orchestrations.
Movement 3 – The Fragility of Civilization – Length: 5:19
Composed in 3/4 meter and following a “theme and variations” format, this movement actually encompasses all of the minor keys. The underlying structure and the systematic progression of the keys from one variation to the next represent the fabric of human civilization, which, in recent years, has been continually challenged by the forces of ruin – including violent conflict, irrationality, natural disasters, political folly, institutional breakdown, and disintegrating standards of behavior – along with the still-present age-old perils of disease and death. This piece can be perceived as a grimly determined waltz, danced on the edge of calamity – but as long as the forward motion within the structure continues, no matter what content the contemporary world throws at it, civilization has a fighting chance. For those who listen through to the ending, there is a glimmer of hope – perhaps appended in a “deus ex machina” fashion, but there is a purpose to it, especially when considered in light of what it leads to in Movement 4.
The first melody in this movement is the “preservation” theme, which is repeated under many different arrangements and frames the significantly re-orchestrated versions of segments from six of Mr. Stolyarov’s marches – Marches #1, 2, 8, 9, 11, and 12 – composed between 2000 and 2014. This is intended to communicate several insights: (i) at a time of great macro-scale uncertainty, only the efforts of the individual – each in their own way – can preserve what is good about civilization; (ii) one should cherish the accomplishments of one’s past and build upon them, integrating them with the present and future – because, no matter what happens, past achievements are irreversible gains; (iii) in building a brighter future, we should hearken back to the good aspects of life and human creation that were achieved prior to 2016. It is not possible for humankind to begin anew; one cannot rebuild the world, or any subset thereof, from scratch – but it is possible to undo the damage of the recent chaos by reasserting and re-instantiating the values, ideas, objects, and infrastructures that make life decent and progress possible.
A better future can only be achieved by holding onto and building upon the best aspects of the past – both personally and for humankind as a whole.
This symphonic march was composed by Gennady Stolyarov II on the occasion of the 84th Birthday of his grandfather, Gennady Stolyarov I, on October 24, 2017. This piece contains exactly 84 measures. The opus number is coincidental, but fortuitously so – as it looks forward to another year.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Gennady Stolyarov I led the development of some of the first computers in the Soviet Union and was granted the IEEE Computer Pioneer Award in the year 2000 for his achievements – “For pioneering development in ‘Minsk’ series computers’ software, of the information systems’ software and applications and for data processing and database management systems concepts dissemination and promotion”.
This composition is played using the Symphonic Orchestra in the Ludwig 3.0 Premium Software.
By popular demand, the PDF score of Mr. Stolyarov’s Composition for Piano and Harpsichord, Op. 50, composed in 2008, has been released. It is available for free download here.
This experimental composition, Mr. Stolyarov’s first attempt at polyphony in 2008, explores the interplay between two instruments, including their potential to simultaneously play two different but complementary melodies. The mood of this piece also alternates between tense and jubilant.
This work was remastered using the Finale 2011 software, with the Steinway Grand Piano and Harpsichord instruments.
2016 was a bleak year for human decency and has brought a major erosion of the core values of civilization: liberty, reason, honesty, and peace. This tragic composition mourns the manifold loss of life, senseless destruction of property, rampant misinformation, tribalism, xenophobia, and cultural degeneration that swept much of the Western and non-Western world alike during the most regressive year of this millennium thus far.
This composition is played using the Symphonic Orchestra in the Ludwig 3.0 Premium Software.
A grand waltz for piano, cello, string section, oboe, and timpani, composed in the key of C# major, with interspersed major and minor passages. The two main themes are varied throughout the piece using different orchestrations and an increase in ornamentation.
This waltz was composed by Mr. Stolyarov on June 16-18, 2016, and is played using the Finale 2011 software.
This piano composition by Mr. Stolyarov evokes an ascent up a spiral skyscraper. Each passage builds and introduces variations upon the last while remaining within the overall pattern describing the climb. The spiral ascent can be seen as a metaphor for incremental but rigorous and goal-directed progress toward a brighter future.
See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.
Photographs in this video are of the F&F Tower in Panama City and were taken by Muribeg, Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz), and Rubydiazmendez. They can be downloaded here and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike Unported 3.0 License or the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License.
This composition and video may also be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License.
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