Vladimir Vasilyevich Bunin was the man of extremely unusual destiny. His personality developed in the struggle against living conditions, which were hard and sometimes tragic.
Vladimir Bunin was born in July 24, 1908 in the family of wheelwright in the Skopin town, Ryazan province. His parents died in his early childhood. He had great appetite for learning so he entered the orphanage in the Kurgan city, Chelyabinsk region by himself. It was the turning point in the boy's life.
Vladimir Bunin's musical abilities showed early. In his childhood, he often performed "concerts with orchestra" using ringing dishes and his brother's accordion and balalaika. He learned to play those instruments good enough on his own. In the orphanage, he learned to play harmonium and piano also by himself. He improvised with great enthusiasm. His dream to become a composer finally took shape when he was eighteen. He entered composition class of the musical vocational school in Omsk. This class has been directed by the remarkable teacher Mikhail Nevitov who has brought up many prominent musicians. Among them was outstanding Soviet composer Vissarion Shebalin. Vladimir Bunin brilliantly finished vocational school in 1931. He entered Professor Anatoli Alexandrov's class in Moscow Conservatory.
In 1938, Vladimir Bunin graduated from the Conservatory with brilliance. He entered post-graduate course and began to teach in the Conservatory. He was among those people who gave a lead and signed up for the people's volunteer corps in 1941, but in a few months, he fell badly ill and was dismissed. During the war, composer continued working hard, and in January 1945, the All-USSR Symphony Orchestra directed by Konstantin Ivanov performed his First Symphony. This first performance drew a wide public response. Critics made special mention of "richness of musical content, nobility and warmth of symphony's images, seriousness of thoughts and convincingness of their sound expression" (Sovetskoye iskusstvo (The Soviet Art) magazine, Jan. 30, 1945)
Three years later, Vladimir Bunin finished new important symphonic work. It was the Second Symphony. It has been repeatedly performed in the USSR and in many other countries. In 1949, it was awarded the State Prize.
Violin Concerto was the composer’s next major symphonic work. It was performed for the first time by Leonid Kogan in 1953. "The whole music is full of wonderful poetry, bright cheerfulness and warmth. Its silveriness and pipeness attract surprisingly. The orchestra is so pellucid and graceful! The author finds more and more inflections that are new so naturally, he stands so far from cliche! One cannot help appreciate at its true value Bunin's ability to speak in low voice but clearly", Yuri Kremlyov wrote.
Among other genres that were embraced by Bunin there are songs (many of them were written to words from his wife Nina Kovalenko), piano music (Fugue-Fantasia, Cycle of pieces Forest Pictures and other works), theatrical music (for such performances as The Black Lake, The Magic Headscarf, The Spice Cake House, The Masters), music for the cinema (The Sinner). Yet symphony music was main and most favorite composer's occupation in his whole life.
Remarkable melodic gift, bright and original harmonic language, depth and range of images - all that charms in the composer's music. However, the most important thing is that every his note carries the spirit of Russia. This adds enormous internal power and beauty to Bunin's music.
Vladimir Bunin was very interested in folk songs. He has made many arrangements of Russian folk songs. In his symphony works, he also addressed himself to the song folklore. In this case, the folk song was like the source that fed his creative imagination. However, he rarely used genuine folk melodies. Vast majority of his themes are close to the folk ones yet original. These are the main theme of the Violin Concerto, many themes from the First and the Second Symphonies and the dance melody from the middle episode of the Piano Concerto. The main theme from the Symphonic Poem At the Fields of Motherland, fascinating and deeply moving the Russian soul, is also among them. This Poem was originally planned to become first movement of the Third Symphony. It is one of the most lyric composer's symphonic works. Most favorite author's ideas and feelings, his love to the common people and to the Russian nature, his faith in the triumph of good and beauty were expressed here in harmonious and laconic form.
Perhaps we can say that the dream of Vladimir Bunin's life came true in his works. This dream was expressed in the few lines that he wrote in his diary as a young man: "I always had intention to write music that could win the audience with its amorousness; such music that, by means of its melody, its rhythm and its timber colors could tenderly charm people, melt down their hearts filling them with love, faith, hope, cheerfulness and strength, with all that is necessary for vital struggle."