ArticlesFeaturedIssuesJune 2021

Iosif Andriasov, The Musical Sketch for Flute

from the Book “Essays on the Music of Iosif Andriasov”, by Marta Andriasova

Iosif Arshakovich Andriasov (Ovsep Andreasian) was a composer-symphonist, a moral philosopher, and a teacher. Iosif Andriasov was born in Moscow, USSR to Armenian parents. Dmitry Shostakovich said of Iosif Andriasov: “When the entire world had lost a sense of harmony, composer Iosif Andriasov not only has not lost this sense, but added to harmony a new quality.” Iosif Andriasov wrote music characterized by enormous beauty, depth of its spiritual virtues, expressed through the richness of emotions, sophisticated construction and profound humanistic ideas.

In 1955, when he was a student at the Musical College under the Moscow Conservatory, Iosif Andriasov wrote a Piece for Flute and Piano. It was dedicated to Ruben Tarasovich Gadziev, a flutist, and relative of the composer. Iosif Andriasov, in one of his conversations with Marta Andriasova (Marina Kudryashova), written down by her in brief, said that he heard his music of the Sketch for Flute in his dream. This music, he continues, is “the music from other spheres. It is serene, rich (abundant), dense. The icy mountains of planets... reflection of the mountain peaks... yellow sun.” In the 1960’s, Mr. Andriasov arranged this piece for Flute and String Orchestra and gave it a new title: Musical Sketch for Flute and String Orchestra. It was premiered by the musicians of the USSR All-State Radio and Television Orchestra in Moscow, USSR, in 1969, under Maestro Gennady Cherkasov. Maestra JoAnn Falletta led the Denver Chamber Orchestra and soloist Sylvia Greenfield in the American premiere of the Musical Sketch for Flute and String Orchestra in 1989. In 2002, it was performed by the San Francisco Students Philharmonic under Maestro Arshak Andriasov (Iosif Andriasov’s son), with soloist Paul Renzi, longtime principal of the San Francisco Symphony. Played numerous all over the world, Iosif Andriasov’s Musical Sketch for Flute is his most performed composition to date.



The Musical Sketch for Flute and String Orchestra (Lento, F Major, 4/4 time, 42 measures) is a lyrical piece of a pastoral character. It is written in the three-part form (A - B - A). Contemplative, crystal-clear, slightly detached music of the outer sections is in contrast to the agitated, elegiac music of the inner one. This music, sincere and instantly communicative, evokes a world of eternal beauty and grace. A melody of the Flute begins as an ornamental chromatic passage, which sounds as a slow glissando and continues as a flowing tune, based on the reed-pipe pastoral motifs. The string orchestra supports the Flute melody with soft chords. The music in the middle section of the Musical Sketch (“B”, in C-sharp minor) is so deep and beautiful that it is hard to describe with words. It definitely gives a glimpse into the intimate inner world of the composer: pure and innocent, tender and courageous. In the recapitulation, the music of the first section is repeated, only adding one measure to it. The Musical Sketch reflects kindness of Iosif Andriasov’s soul. The Music of Iosif Andriasov is deeply spiritual in nature. To Iosif, the timeless beauty of the spiritual world was not unattainable Romantic ideal, but a reality. His motto was not to fight evil with evil, but to illuminate evil with beauty.

Iosif Andriasov’s Musical Sketch for Flute is available at the store.


“The Best Recording of Iosif Andriasov’s Musical Sketch for Flute” “Ever since I can remember, this recording of Iosif Andriasov’s Musical Sketch for Flute and String Orchestra has been an untouchable epitome that I have aspired to achieve throughout my life. My parents would tell me that from the crib, as a little child, I would cry when my father would put this recording on the tape player. I can tell you that it is because of the Musical Sketch’s sheer beauty shown. This music composition is so sad, caring, and loving. Without ever going through sadness or pain, one will never be able to truly love and care for anybody or anything. The Musical Sketch exemplifies these traits in my ears. Knowing that Iosif Andriasov went through WWII and his father passed at the age of fifteen, I have a deep appreciation for his ability to write something beautiful and hopeful, within the confines of pure sadness. This is the composition’s most amazing trait besides the technical aspect.

A performance to match the Sketch is quite impossible to do these days. Very rarely can one be able to give to humanity like those musicians could. There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is because Iosif Andriasov passed away. He could make the most ordinary musician elevate themselves to legendary levels if they listened to him. The most important thing was that Iosif Andriasov was an incredibly humble person, with a personality that knew he was able to do and explain things that were wondrous. This ability was only possible due to two incredible qualities that he had that worked in combination: An incredible ability to live and observe the world, noticing human interactions and encounters, animal reactions to things, and the beauty of nature + being able to feel the pain and sufferings in this world. He did not pass people by in pain and just take a metaphoric selfie. He would try to help anyone around him, even at an age of 8, when he played for wounded soldiers during WWII. This inner quality cannot be taught. It is either there or it is not. One can train to become this way, but it will only be done forcibly and not genuinely.

There are other reasons why it is difficult to produce a top quality performance like this. Every musician looked up to the composer and asked for any kind of help possible to better understand this music. Nowadays, musicians seem to know everything about the composer and their composition. You would think already that these performers wrote the composition. Without understanding who Iosif was, where and from which era he came from, the musician will always look like a fool trying to interpret something they have no clue about. It is best to ask questions to family members and pupils of Iosif Andriasov. This will always set the performance to a different level. More importantly, a kind, selfless, caring, and loving person will be able to interpret this composition wonderfully. All these qualities in a person, plus the ability not to erratically fluctuate tempos, will help make a great quality performance. That is why there are few recordings done of my father’s music that survive really well after his passing.

The tempo performed by the unknown to me flutist, member of the USSR All-State Radio and TV orchestra, is unparalleled and will never be surpassed in my opinion. His true beauty lies in the ability to perform within a given tempo, while being able to not make the performance rigid. This method of performing was obviously trained by my father who participated in the recordings by giving advice to the musicians and conductor Gennady Cherkasov. What was wonderful is that there is a very limited amount of vibrato done by the musicians, another significant trait my father employed and stressed. This ability to be “clean” just emphasizes the purity of sound, the purity of the soul. Vibrato, when done without reservation, sounds like a person constantly complaining about life. My father did not complain about his hard life. He understood that it was inevitable. An astute musician that never met him, would notice this incredible trait in this recording. Purity brought to the world cannot contain any hatred and anger. This is beautiful recording personifies this pure quality. A quality that has to be a focal point in anything one does.


Piano version:

Michelle Matts, Flute
Rogier De Pijper, Flute

Published Books:
Andriasova, Marta. Essays on the Music of Iosif Andriasov, IMMA Publishing Co., 2010
(Arshak Andriasov, Editor, Victor Romasevich).

To read about Arshak Andriasov:

To read about Marta Andriasova (Marina Kudryashova):

Iosif Andriasov’s Musical Sketch for Flute is available at the Andriasovstore.

Leave a Reply

You have free article(s) remaining. Subscribe for unlimited access.