Raymond Pauls in Russian-Latvian tandems
The most famous popular music composer in all the post-Soviet space, legendary Latvian
“I feel like a dinosaur who has miraculously survived”, says Raymond Pauls about himself today. Raymond Pauls is a “dinosaur” indeed, having penned innumerable vocal hits and impressive music for theatre and cinema. In any case, he is one of very few Soviet epoch musicians who is just as popular today as he was in the Soviet Union. This is a wonder of composer and pianist Raymond Pauls’ talent.
It seems enough for him just to touch the piano keys for a hit to be born as if by itself, to sound in every house the next day. However, in recent years, the maestro prefers not to compose but to perform music with a jazz ensemble or band. He also visits Moscow very often, which makes his numerous Russian fans happy.
“I perform quite a lot now, I’ve got heaps of work, - Raymond Pauls says. – I can go on tour with concerts, if I like. I sometimes compose music for theatrical performances but not as much as I used to. Now I am mostly a pianist. The stage is like a drug: it intoxicates me but at the same time the stage is sacred.”
Raymond Pauls enjoyed his first success in the late 1960s and a real landslide of fame reached him in the 1980s, which the musician considers his “golden period”. In many ways, this happened because Pauls was extremely lucky with his creative partners. First of all, they were outstanding Russian poets, such as Andrey Voznesensky, Robert Rozhdestvensky and Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Even today, one of the Latvian composer’s permanent coauthors is Russian lyricist Iliya Reznik. Together, they have created a great many “modern classics”, including songs like “The Maestro”, “The Old Clock”, “Without Me”, “Hey You, Upstairs” and others. For many singers to perform a new song by Raymond Pauls meant to wake up famous the next morning. The maestro helped many popular singers to climb the musical Olympus and to stay there as today’s stars. The most famous of them is the prima donna of the Russian stage Alla Pugachiova.
Raymond Pauls maintains his musical links with Russia, even though, as he puts it, “the empire has collapsed, new borders have emerged and everything has changed”. He is one of the creators of a common cultural space on the post-Soviet territory. Suffice it to recall just one project, “The New Wave”, an international contest of young performers of pop-music, annually held in the Latvian city of Jurmala. The contest was founded by Raymond Pauls together with his Russian colleague Igor Krutoy. “My attitude to Russia does not change, because I am very well aware of the importance of good-neighbourly relations. We used to live in one country and there is no denying it,” the maestro says.