The Dance of the Elephant

and other



Valery Trofimenko

 Published by Helix5 , multimedia publisher in the area of innovative media and telematics. The disc and the music scores can be ordered at Helix5. Enschede, The Netherlands.






Valery Trofimenko was born in 1939 in Kiev (The Ukraine). Both his parents were musicians, and Valery has probably inherited his talent from them. In the year 1963 he graduated from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. His violin teacher was Prof. Mikhail Pitkus. After completing his study he was solo violinist in a jazz orchestra lead by the famous trumpet player Eddy Rozner. In 1971 he became concertmaster of the orchestra “Goluboi Ecran” (Blue Screen) playing entertainment music for the Russian Broadcast and Television. From 1973 until present Trofimenko is a member of the State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jevgeni Svetlanov. As an improviser and soloist, he has made many movie recordings for Studio Mosfilm. Accompanied by the Melodia Jazz orchestra he played a violin solo for a CD recording. In 1995 his improvisations on Gypsy music were also recorded on disc.

In Russia Trofimenko performed his ragtimes several times with his music friends, in particular with his ex colleague and friend Boris Tsoukkerman. They are both students of the legendary violin teacher Pitkus. Trofimenko’s debut as composer took place in 1959 with the performance of his cadenzas for Mozart’s 3rd violin Concerto. In the early eighties he fell in love with the ragtime style. A short time later his string sextet appeared. His ragtime pieces are extrapolations of those of Scott Joplin. As an extra element, Trofimenko has added an evident element of irony to the traditional ragtime. One can even discern a certain self-irony. Trofimenko’s works (all in major) also have an everlasting optimism, even in the, often harsh circumstances of the post-Soviet period. Even successful composers could not escape from them.

Valery Trofimenko is the founder and President of the Anti-Musical Academy. It stands for humour in music. It developed in the sixties and carried the slogan: “The worse, the better.” Trofimenko does not apply this saying to his ragtimes, however. The Anti-Musical Academy does not restrict itself to the domain of music; All aspects of the musician’s life are exhibited together with humour and parody.

Works on the CD

  1. The Ragtime for string sextet is Trofimenko’s first ragtime. At first as a quintet, later extended with a solo violin. It can be seen as Trofimenko’s most traditional ragtime. It can also be played by string ensemble with solo violin. A version for two violins with piano was also made by the composer; made especially for students of a Moscow Music School.
  2. Ragtime for violin and piano. This piece was composed in 1987 during a tour of the Russian State Orchestra through Western Europe.
  3. Dialogues for piano trio. It is not a complete ragtime, as it contains only some of its elements. It makes you imagine another title like: “The Day of your Dreams”; you dream that you are overcome by happiness. The next day it proves to be true.
  4. Ragtime Improvisation for Violin Solo. This typical ragtime is intended for piano. It seems to be impossible to reach this effect with the violin. You may decide its success for yourself.
  5. Dialogues II for clarinet, violin, viola and piano originated in the eighties as an incomplete ragtime for two players and three instruments: A violinist (in this case the composer himself) would move on to the piano half the way. However this work was not completed in this way. Only in 1995 was this ragtime accompanied with the music from the Dialogues for piano trio. This is the reason that this piece still carries the name ‘Dialogues.’
  6. Russian Suite for 2 violins; The only composition of Trofimenko that is in no way a ragtime. It is the absolute tops of irony and humour. It can be seen as a mirror for the chaotic life in Russia nowadays. It has four movements which succeed one other without interruption: Toccata, Marsh, Five Episodes and Finale. During the Toccata the attentive listener will perceive several reminiscences to classical fragments, quickly taking another flow: Dies Irae and other famous pieces. The marsh is a parody on military music. During the five Episodes, two characters talk in themselves, without reaction to each other, probably as they are tipsy. After a short transition, the last Episode continues into a virtuous Presto. So far it is Trofimenko’s largest work.
  7. The Dance of the Elephant for two violins and piano; the listener is confronted with a scenery in which an animal trainer wants to teach his elephant to dance. He caresses the elephant and shows him how to dance. The elephant however is fat and heavy. Moreover the elephant doesn’t seem to understand his teacher. The trainer cuddles the elephant again and sweetly implores him to dance… without result. At last the trainer starts crying desperately, and the elephant now seems to understand the message. He jumps like a calf and trumpets with his trunk. After a few seconds the elephant becomes tired, however, and collapses. After all the trainer seems to be proud with this modest result.
  8. Ragtime for cello and piano. It is a true challenge for talented cello players. The ragtime has been accomplished with lyrical passages in the second movement.
  9. Ragtime for two violins. It is a brilliant, virtuous piece with fast changes of mood. The two players continuously alternate the thematic elements in different manners.
  10. Ragtime for string quintet. It is one of Trofimenko’s newest works. It can also be performed by string quartet or string orchestra as was recorded by the Symphony Orchestra of the Volga Region under conductor Anatoly Levin.