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 Oleg Lundstrem

Born:   April 2, 1916
Deceased:   October 14, 2005

a legendary Russian jazzman, composer, performer and orchestra conductor


Oleg Lundstrem is widely known as a composer, conductor, and arranger. He was a jazz maestro of world-wide recognition. In his jazz compositions Oleg Lundstrem fused the emotional and improvising basis indispensible in jazz with logic and high mathematical calculations. The point lies not even in the analogy of architecture as frozen music that automatically comes to mind. Rather, it has to do with the musicians inner feeling for beauty, harmony and proportionality.

Oleg Leonidovich Lundstrem was born on the 2nd of April 1916 in Chita. In 1921 his family moved to Harbin (Manchuria) the capital of Russian expatriates' community in China.

In 1932 after finishing a commerce school he entered Polytechnic Institute and at the same time Music College, which he graduated, majoring in violin, in 1935.

In the 1930s Oleg occasionally heard a record of Duke Ellington and was overwhelmed by such kind of music. That record triggered his infatuation with jazz. Oleg picked out music pieces from jazz records and arranged them himself. In 1934 a group of young musicians decided to organize their own jazz orchestra and elected Oleg Lundstrem as their head. In 1936 Oleg decided to try his wings in Shanghai. He signed his first professional contract in the Yangtze Hotel, and later in Qingdao.

During that period already Lundstrem developed an understanding how to perform Russian songs in jazz arrangement. The year 1940 brought the peak of popularity a performance in the most prestigious ballroom Paramount. The orchestra had already 14 musicians, with Oleg Lundstrem as its conductor.

In 1941, in the beginning of war, Oleg entered the French Higher Technical Centre. Graduating from it as an engineering architect in 1944, Oleg nevertheless showed himself as a composer. The postwar years turned to be the period of new creative upturn for him. Lundstrems orchestra had already 19 people, making a complete big band. For the concert in the Lyceum Theatre celebrating the end of World War Two, Oleg composed his first independent work Interlude following Sergei Rachmaninovs intonations. Later he composed the play Mirage, another attempt to make his contribution into jazz.

In 1947 Oleg Lundstrem together with the orchestras musicians moved to the USSR. They chose the city of Kazan to settle in, because there was a conservatoire there. Initially the arrived orchestra was decided to be made a jazz band of the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. However, it turned out that the country of the soviet power did not need jazz. Hence, the musicians were distributed to an opera theatre and orchestras of cinemas. Oleg joined the Opera and Ballet Theatre as a violinist and in 1948 along with a big group of returned musicians became a student of the Kazan State Conservatoire. In 1953 Oleg Lundstrem graduated from the Conservatoire majoring in composition and optionally in symphonic conducting. He stayed in the Conservatoire to teach theory subjects and conduct the students symphony orchestra.

However, jazz was not forgotten. In 1955 the orchestra recorded a series of music pieces by Tatar composers in Oleg Lundstrems jazz arrangement. The orchestra gave a series of concerts in the Kazan Drama Theatre; being a great success, they attracted attention of Moscow concert organizations.

On the 1st of October 1956 an order of the Minister of Culture of the RSFSR established a concert variety orchestra under conductorship of Oleg Lundstrem. That was the beginning of extensive concert and touring life for the jazzmen. Within almost 40 years of its existence the orchestra toured more than 300 cities of the Soviet Union and dozens of cities abroad. Concerts of Oleg Lundstrems Jazz Orchestra were visited by hundreds of thousands of jazz admirers, and millions of people listened to the splendid orchestra on radio and TV. For many years Oleg Lundstrem and his orchestra were customary participants of large-scale international jazz festivals.

Oleg Lundstrem died on the 13th of October 2005 in Moscow.


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