In this way, even before beginning his studies the newcomer unexpectedly made the acquaintance of the most prominent leaders of the Kiev Conservatory's composition schools or the Re-La of the perfect fifth interval, as the students called them. The students’ witty name, using solmisation to name the fixed tones of the fifth interval, was in fact surprisingly accurate. The creative orientations of the two composition professors really were in opposition: Re (Revutsky) symbolised a resistant, stagnant tradition, while La (Lyatoshinsky) contrasted that with innovation and an inspiring, inquisitive mind. At that time the consultation that was granted by Lyatoshinsky to the future great-grandchild Balakauskas concluded with the professor’s acknowledgment that “the young man really is talented”. Immediately after testing him with an exam on harmony, Lyatoshinsky invited him to study in his composition class. This significant event in the life and professional biography of Balakauskas also became a decisive factor in the development of Lithuanian schools of composition.
For a foreign young man who weighed every word and who was taciturn to be noticed in the context of the extrovert students at the Kiev Conservatory was not a simple matter. He was the eldest among his fellow students, while the legendary taciturnity and reserve of Balakauskas amongst the students really stood out and still even during the years of his studies was accompanied by a host of various comments. Leonid Hrabovsky, a graduate of Lyatoshinsky’s class, described his meeting with the new student, most probably an impression from 1964: “Not talkative, not wordy, he always listened more than talked. His pronouncements were always distinguished by receptiveness, a capacity to absorb information and deep thinking.” His fellow student Yevgeny Stankovich compared the length of his and Balakauskas’s verbal pronouncements when it came to their conversations: “Where I said two sentences, Balakauskas would only say two words.” In this, the newcomer resembled Lyatoshinsky. He also was a man of few words, who only got fired up, as it were, in speaking about music. However, the students soon became convinced that Glière’s new great-grandson, thanks to his inquisitive mind and knowledge of languages, was fully able to find his way in the technical aspects of modern composition. As it was, students’ conversations mostly revolved about music (and what else would they be speaking about?). In those discussions, Balakauskas’s taciturnity immediately melted away and he tried to respond to every question. He explained things, satisfied everyone’s curiosity and that made them think.
This was also helped by the liberal atmosphere, open to artistic innovations, of the classes given by the Old Man, as Lyatoshinsky was called by his students. Lyatoshinsky had already expressed his relationship with the modern music of the beginning of the 20th century in his compositions of the 1920s. Later, his work was hauled over the coals by Soviet art ideologues for being ‘formalistic.’ Without a doubt, Lyatoshinsky was as well acquainted with the problems worked out in the compositions of Schoenberg and Webern as those by Cage. However, his annual trips to Warsaw Autumn and his sincere attempts to take an interest in the latest trends in composition did not shake the foundations of his musical world. He never came to believe in avant-garde music and continued to compose in the extended tonal system. At the same time Lyatoshinsky was interested in the ethnic colour of this music and, generally speaking, he was one of the most Ukrainian of composers. Life had already taught him to look critically at any unusual phenomenon. He understood perfectly well that radical modernism shakes things up, gives a fresh impetus to creativity, but at the same time can also run out of steam, wear itself out and slowly remove itself from active circulation. Therefore, although he himself did not become a real fan of avant-garde composition, he, unlike other professors at the Conservatory, did not forbid his own students from admiring such work, learning from it, copying it and experimenting, etc.
To his fellow students at the Kiev Conservatory, Balakauskas stood out not only as a man of few words and as a talented, thinking person. They were also interested in matters ancillary to music: the fact that he had served in the Soviet army and that he was married, a father of two children. However, what impressed them most was that the newcomer was absolutely determined and had planned out his creative goals. Balakauskas had come to Kiev with a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve creatively and well prepared technically. With this in mind, while still in Vilnius he had made a thorough study of Bogusław Schaeffer’s two-volume Klasycy dodekafonii (1961–1964) which a friend had sent him from Poland. He already knew what sort of music could become ‘mine’ and ‘one’s own’, as Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis had described his modernist discoveries in his letters.
So, already in Balakauskas’s work as a student, precise series made their appearance. They worked as a principal for harmonic relationships and determining structure, serving as an expression of musical logic, as well as a condition for a Schoenberg-like ‘introduction of order’. To the surprise of many, the very orderly, harmonious musical structure of Balakauskas’s compositions in Kiev sounded completely distinctive and differed from the majority of attempts being undertaken at more or less the same time in the USSR to individualise the principles of twelve-tone music. It was not similar to either Schoenberg’s dodecaphony or the compositions of the Ukrainian avant-garde composers Hrabovsky and Godzyatsky, or the early work by Silvestrov. Yuri Ishchenko described the sound of Balakauskas’s compositions as the difference of dissonance between the major seventh and the minor seventh (Balakauskas used the minor). Even more important was the fact that in his work he did not imitate the avant-garde but rethought it in his own way. Yes, his thinking was unusual but a very interesting musical riddle to the students and the professors at the Kiev Conservatory. It was remarkable that Balakauskas created the sound of his music clearly in opposition to the apotheosis of dissonance in the concept of modernism. The systematically, strictly functioning principle of series in Balakauskas’s music allowed the existence of consonance and the creation of an atmosphere that was tonal in feel. Perhaps that is why the orderly, ‘rather cold’, but unprovocative student compositions of Balakauskas did not particularly upset the otherwise conservatively-disposed committees that marked the grades or examinations at the Kiev Conservatory.
How did Balakauskas’s fellow students in Kiev react to this musicality of his? Opinions were divided. To Yevgeny Stankovich, who had come from Lviv, a student in Lyatoshinsky’s class together with Balakauskas, it seemed that “neither Balakauskas nor I were noticed in the conservatory, no one paid any attention to us, as is the case in higher schools of education like that. The description ‘talented and very promising’ was used of others. We were older and married, and, besides that, we had already served in the army.” However, things looked different from the side, in particular when speaking about Balakauskas, who had come on the scene from somewhere else. Tatyana Bondarenko, another of Lyatoshinsky’s students, categorically disagrees with Stankovich. In her opinion, of the Old Man’s pupils “Balakauskas was one of those who most caught your eye. Already then, he stood out because of his particular manner of composing and his originality.” She admits that the impression had taken hold at the Kiev Conservatory about the ‘dryness’ of Balakauskas’s music and that Silvestrov’s approach to the avant-garde fitted the Ukrainian mentality better, an approach based on the interface of sound with sound by means of energetic verbal expression. After all, Balakauskas in his music ‘spoke’ a constructive language of structures and what was more important to him was analytical manipulation through tones and the possibility of series consonance.
Balakauskas’s distinctive compositional technique in Kiev was not the only sign of the young composer’s independence and autonomy. Something made the structure of his music, so meticulously put together, sound individualistic. Silvestrov at the time noted and later tried to decode “the shock felt by those listening to his harmonious music in which there is not a single ‘false’ note…” Indeed, this was not only the simple result of a well-functioning harmonic system created by him, it was a solution on the level of the philosophy of art. This manifestation of a different way of thinking also very much caught people’s attention in Kiev’s musical environment. Balakauskas’s relationship with the art of sounds expressed itself in his reluctance to have his music convey or say something. In his work, he clearly ignored non-musical gestures and was content to use only the medium of music. Silvestrov described the undoubted mark of Balakauskas’s individuality with his impression that Balakauskas’s music strove to be heard for itself, in a Haydn-like way. A clean structure and its speculative, abstract nature was in truth the essence of his music. In Silvestrov’s estimation, as regards the adaptations of avant-garde techniques that had begun in the USSR in the 1960s, Balakauskas was a representative of true classicism but in another compositional system. He was in control of the music by means of its own musical form, in control of its texture, structure, and the diverse types of forms, doing all of that in a very restrained and harmonious manner. In other words, he had mastered the formal gestures of music. It was his Kiev colleague’s belief that this very much fitted in with Balaukauskas’s own external and internal aspect. Remembering Lyatoshinsky’s reaction when his student brought his dodecaphonic composition into class, Silvestrov says: “He allowed everything, without saying that it’s bad, but asked ‘Do you like it all? If you do really like it, then that’s fine.’ He was an authority because of his own music and his intelligence. He didn’t force us to do anything. He gave us freedom.” The professor’s charismatic personality did not oppress his students because of its superiority, they were free to create in their own particular style. Balakauskas summed up the professor’s teaching with the observation that “Lyatoshinsky did not try to force any particular point of view on his students since he understood perfectly the inevitability of musical revolution and allowed his students to live through it themselves.” At least three principles operated in Boris Lyatoshinsky’s classes. Firstly, the attempt to bring out individuality, secondly, respect for a different approach, and, thirdly, the freedom given for creative exploration. But first and foremost, was the creative freedom encouraged and defended by Lyatoshinsky himself.
Knowing what the Old Man taught his students and what he valued in art, one has to think that he was impressed by the professionalism of Balakauskas’s compositions, his attempts to define what he wanted to do, to give reasons for and conceptually validate his creative stance. What should have also made a mark are the legendary comments of the Lithuanian made in the constant discussions in the composition class, comments that were focused, thought through and based on a not inconsiderable knowledge of modern music. Ishchenko notes that Lyatoshinsky, an experienced teacher and true professional, listened to Balakauskas’s compositions in a structured way, following the structural interconnections determined by the method used and adjusted the sound based on an impression of the whole. It is Ishchenko’s conviction that the professor felt Balakauskas’s inner strength and power, and did not doubt that “there is something” in his music and in his method. The professor must have liked not only his zeal as a student but also his scores, written out in an individual hand, reminding one of graphic art, and not requiring any further input from the publisher. His fellow students in Kiev (Stankovich) to this day have no doubt that “the Old Man, a true, noble-minded member of the intelligentsia (…) loved Balakauskas very much. His dealings with him were very proper. (…) He marked out Valdas as being different because of his European core. After all, he was a European like all Lithuanians. He spoke very little but took in a great deal, particularly contemporary music, which, it seems to me, he knew well. It is only natural that the Old Man would respect him.”
When a delegation from the Lithuanian Composers’ Union (Bronius Kutavičius, Vytautas Barkauskas, Algimantas Bražinskas, Vytautas Jurgutis, Vytautas Montvila, Algirdas Ambrazas) was visiting Kiev in 1968, it seemed to its members that Balakauskas had finally become a part of the scene there, one of them, and had made friends. However, first impressions can often be deceiving. The difference in Balakauskas’s character and creative work from the melodiousness and ‘hotness’ of the Kiev musical environment clearly marked him out as a dissenting voice. Balakauskas’s Kiev colleagues tried to explain his different way of thinking as a national trait. According to Silvestrov, “this was his reticence, taciturnity and some sort of clean game, which you can also find in folk music. Everything that he does and creates, he does in a very restrained, classical manner. Everything in his music is beautiful, it did not sound cold but detached. However, the power of his music lay in its lyricism intermixed with playfulness.”
Even though performances of the music of Lyatoshinsky’s ‘left wing’ young composers and that of Balakauskas were always infrequent, but Hrabovsky, observing the gradually unfolding talent of Lyatoshinsky’s pupils, had already had his attention drawn to Balakauskas at the end of the 1960s. He listed high intelligence, discipline, restraint, refinement, and elegance as the component parts of his music that made an impression. Undoubtedly, music of this sort did not impress everyone in the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s in Kiev, mostly the representatives of the Ukrainian avant-garde, who were composing work of a similar aesthetic and structural discipline. Balakauskas’s involvement in Kiev coincided with the cultural rebellion in Soviet music of Arvo Pärt, Andrei Volkonsky, Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Edison Denisov. Both the Moscow trio and the Kiev avant-garde, inspired by the compositional technical innovations of the 20th century, concentrated their efforts on freeing themselves from the stagnant dogmas of socialist-realism. This cohort was united by a critical reflection on musical traditions, an inquisitive exploration of innovations, and was also connected by a strong attraction to experimentation. Another prerequisite for their artistic solidarity was their interpretation of where the future of music lay and their handling of cultural texts.
In speaking about his creative identity, Osvaldas Balakauskas has admitted that as a composer he matured at the Kiev night-time music listening sessions put on by like-minded students of composition in the so-called Blazhkov-Silvestrov circle. It was there that he got to know, analyse and discuss modern, avant-garde music of the 20th century “and no authority, or even an authoritarian, would have been able to make us disperse or lead us in any particular direction.” So, we should recognise the study of 20th century modern music initiated by the Kiev avant-garde’s night universities as Balakauskas’s informal education in Kiev. Independent studies had already become a regular, mandatory part of the biographies of composers who had made breakthroughs in 20th century music, beginning with Luigi Nono, and finishing with a host of other individual stories. ‘The Second Conservatory’ was also a part of the biographies of Balakauskas’s fellow composers. The extension to Lyatoshinsky’s classes in Kiev was provoked by both the ‘iron curtain’ which had put a fence around the Soviet art space and the ideological grip responsible for determining a selective acquaintanceship with 20th century composition. The third reason was the goal of realising the greatest privilege granted a composer – the opportunity to create a recognisable individual compositional technique and a unique sound.
It was the group’s host himself who picked out the quiet interlocutor Osvaldas Balakauskas as the leader from amongst the participants when it came to expressing an opinion. It seems that after Blazhkov and Silvestrov, the leaders of the circle, had come to a decision, the most important theme of the discussions at the night-time listening sessions turned to the limits of structural rationalisation and the extent of speculativeness in composition. In other words, what ensued was a war of creativity poeticising the play of pure structures with music that ‘speaks quietly’. Without a doubt, Balakauskas, a confirmed modernist, became the most active opponent of Silvestrov the post-modernist. Excellent orators with encyclopaedic knowledge butting heads in the safe environment of the night-time listening sessions, they became an intellectual treasure of incalculable value to their colleagues who were searching for their own creative path.
Having perceived ‘a visible, noticeable’ material side to music, Silvestrov passionately defended the ‘invisible’ side created through listening, while at the same time asking that both sides meld. He hoped and did not doubt that “a composer should wait for music”. Remembering their heated discussions and clearly diverging creative paths, Silvestrov acknowledged that the most important reason for the differences in their opinions was the speculative nature of musical creativity, the observation, meditation and contemplation of wisdom and the mind. Balakauskas and he argued a great deal over those things, their opinions diverged radically, and their exchanges were sharp.
Although Silvestrov termed the avant-garde serial music composed by Balakauskas in Kiev ‘eloquent’ music, with motifs close to musical words, and not just bare structural processes, in debates Balakauskas stood on the other side of the barricades. He defended the supremacy of intellectually controlled, systematically ‘clean’ sounding music. When Balakauskas’s music was later performed in Kiev, in Silvestrov’s estimation, all of that could not be heard very clearly, it was not on the surface. It sounded normal – what remained, of course, was the inimitable restraint of his music. Leonid Hrabovsky, who emigrated to the USA in 1990, still to this day remembers what an indelible impression was made on him by Balakauskas’s piece for violin and piano Like the Touch of a Sea Wave (1975), composed after his return to Lithuania: “This was music of a transcendent beauty”.
Apparently, uncertainty as to the genetic musicality of the series principle was also stirring in Balakauskas’s consciousness. Even though he did not admit it aloud, this was clearly supported by not only his ‘softer’, more musical, more consonant compositional system and the manner, already suffused with postmodernism (minimalism), with which it was applied. Similarly, this was backed up by the explanation for the reasons for the ‘muteness’ of avant-garde music to the listener. In 2013 Balakauskas called avant-garde music, which at one time had so shackled his attention, as not being communicative, as “a game without rules which no one understands and which doesn’t excite anyone”. In rethinking the theses from his modernist period, Balakauskas now claims that it is important for a composer “to be connected to tradition and remain recognisable and an individual.” The stance on the relationship with tradition made the composer turn his back, as it were, on musical revolutions and swept away what in Kiev had grounded the ideology behind his identity as a composer. Balakauskas named the reason for the defeat of modernism as the denial of tradition par excellence.
Of course, Balakauskas was a part and the soul of Lyatoshinsky’s school, of the Kiev avant-garde’s night universities, an intellectual interlocutor, an editor at the Muzychna Ukraina (Musical Ukraine) publishing house, and in 1972 after heated debates he became a member of the Ukrainian Composers’ Union. It seems that was not enough. It is probable that he felt a somewhat alien, reserved attitude in Kiev’s professional milieu. On the other hand, the nightly sessions of the Kiev avant-garde began to wind down, creative paths diverged, and arguments motivated people to promote their own attitudes and tread their own creative path. When Osvaldas Balakauskas showed up in Vilnius in 1972 on his return from Kiev, he made a mark with his radical views, his taciturnity and his yellow jacket, a visual symbol of him transcending dreary Soviet reality. Balakauskas’s jacket in the context of the greyness of everyday life was in its own way a challenge, startling the eye, politically even dangerous, a colour from the flag of independent Lithuania. He returned as a dangerous element, bringing with him the infection of compositions from the free world and a thinking unrestrained by fear.
The response of the Kiev brotherhood was reflected in Silvestrov’s acknowledgement: “When Valdas left, a great great sadness entered me. After all, Valdas was very important to me: with his departure, his place became vacant, and what was left was a deep gaping hole. A deep spiritual connection had developed between us. After he left, other young composers began to climb up the rungs of their careers. Apparently, they had recognised Balakauskas’s authority, his clear position and very much believed in him. Perhaps while he was in Kiev, they had not wanted to hurt him. He was a real authority to them and they felt that. Balakauskas himself was no kind of careerist and a big authority to all of us. This was a true artist’s position. Later, he would occasionally come to Kiev and connections were renewed for a longer or shorter while. Unfortunately, he would come less and less frequently.”
Translated from the Lithuanian by Romas Kinka
 From Сергей Прокофьев. Мой педагог, in: Советское Искусство, 9 January 1940.
 Daunoravičienė-Žuklytė, Gražina. Lietuvių muzikos modernistinės tapatybės žvalgymas [Exploration of the Modernistic Identity of Lithuanian Music]. Vilnius: Lietuvos muzikos ir teatro akademija, 2016, p. 447.
 Зинькевич, Елена Сергеевна. О настоящем, о былом размышляет Евгений Станкович в беседе с Еленой Зинькевич. Киев, Нежин: Издательство ЧП Лысенко М.М., 2012, p. 53.
 Daunoravičienė-Žuklytė, Gražina. Lietuvių muzikos modernistinės tapatybės žvalgymas [Exploration of the Modernistic Identity of Lithuanian Music]. Vilnius: Lietuvos muzikos ir teatro akademija, 2016, p. 445.
 Op. cit., p. 447.
 Op. cit., p. 442.
 Op. cit., p. 444.
 Op. cit., p. 443.
 Op. cit., p. 448.
 Зинькевич, Елена Сергеевна. О настоящем, о былом размышляет Евгений Станкович в беседе с Еленой Зинькевич. Киев, Нежин: Издательство ЧП Лысенко М.М., 2012, p. 52.
 Miroslav Skorik’s answers in an interview with Lyubov Kiyanovska on 2 March 2012. Taken from Kiyanovska’s talk: Любовь Кияновская. Музыкальная атмосфера Киева во время обучения Освальдаса Балакаускаса. Given at the LMTA conference on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of O. Balakauskas’s birth, Vilnius, 19 April 2012. Typed manuscript, p. 7.
 Daunoravičienė-Žuklytė, Gražina. Lietuvių muzikos modernistinės tapatybės žvalgymas [Exploration of the Modernistic Identity of Lithuanian Music]. Vilnius: Lietuvos muzikos ir teatro akademija, 2016, p. 454.
 Op.cit., p. 463.
 Op. cit., p. 485.
 Op. cit., p. 470.
 Osvaldas Balakauskas: Nenormalu, kad menininkas niekina publiką [Osvaldas Balakauskas: It is not normal when an artist despises his public]. Pokalbis su Rūta Gaidamavičiūte [A conversation with Rūta Gaidamavičiūtė], see: http://www.delfi.lt/news/ringas/lit/obalakauskas-nenormalu-kad-menininkas-niekina-publika.d?id=60468819 (last consulted 17 February 2013).
 Daunoravičienė-Žuklytė, Gražina. Lietuvių muzikos modernistinės tapatybės žvalgymas [Exploration of the Modernistic Identity of Lithuanian Music]. Vilnius: Lietuvos muzikos ir teatro akademija, 2016, p. 485.