People's Artist of Russia
1916.On April 2 in the city of Chita (Zabaikalye), a son named Oleg is born to Leonid Frantsevich Lundstrem (who was then working as a teacher at the Chita high school) and Galina Petrovna Lundstrem. A second son, Igor, is born a year later.
1921. The family moves to Harbin, Manchuria (China), where the father has been invited to work for the Great Chinese Railroad, first as a middle school physics teacher, then as a lecturer at the Harbin Polytechnic Institute.
1932. Oleg graduates from the college of commerce and enters the Polytechnic Institute. At the same time, he joins the music college, from which he graduates in 1935 as a violinist.
Beginning of the 30s. The world is being taken by storm by a new dance - the fox trot - and, correspondingly, by a new music -- jazz. At first, this cheerful, rhythmic music does not especially attract Oleg's attention until, while selecting records for a party, he stumbles upon a recording of the then still obscure Duke Ellington Orchestra. The name of the tune is "Dear Old South." Oleg is stunned by what he hears, and he immediately realizes that this music is not only meant for the feet, but that it also represents something more. This impression is shared by his friends, many of whom are young musicians who have already taken to jazz. They fall upon the recordings of Louis Armstrong in exactly the same way, and, from this moment, their fascination with jazz is born. Little by little, Oleg and his friends begin playing jazz together and performing at dances. Meanwhile, Oleg, full of curiosity, starts to study the sound of the big band orchestra and to arrange and reproduce songs from records by ear.
1934. One day while gathering together, the young musicians decide to form a jazz band. They elect Oleg Lundstrem as their leader. The orchestra consists of nine musicians: two alto saxophones, one tenor saxophone (Igor Lundstrem), two trumpets (the second of whom is played by Alexei Kotyakov), one trombone, piano (Oleg Lundstrem), banjo and double bass (both played by A. Gravis), and drums. Such was the composition of the big band in those days.
1935. In this year, the band begins to gain popularity in Harbin. The orchestra plays at balls and parties and on local radio.
1936. The orchestra moves to Shanghai (China), a huge international port. Here Oleg Lundstrem begins his professional career. The band's first place of work is the Yangtze Hotel, from which they move to a popular local ballroom called the Majestic. It is a great success. The band becomes more and more well-known in the city. In 1937 and 1940, the orchestra relocates to the Tsingtao resort for the summer season. The band now has eleven musicians. At this time, Oleg's idea of arranging Russian songs in the jazz style begins to come to fruition. He arranges "A Song About the Captain" by I. Dunaevsky, "Strange Cities" by A. Vertinsky, "Katyusha" by M. Blanter, and others. All of them are always very successful with audiences.
1940. The height of popularity. A performance at the most prestigious ballroom in the city - the Paramount. The orchestra already consists of fourteen musicians, with Oleg as conductor. Improvisers such as Alexei Kotyakov, Igor Lundstrem, and Aleksandr Gravis are considered to be among the best musicians in the city. The orchestra becomes one of the best in Shanghai. The press names Oleg Lundstrem "The King of Jazz in the Far East."
1941. World War II! Oleg enters the French Technical Center and graduates in 1944 as an engineer-architect. The postwar years are marked by new creative development. The orchestra performs at two city theaters -- the Lyceum and the Carlton -- and at the Soviet Club. There are already nineteen people in the orchestra -- now a full big band. While preparing for a concert at the Lyceum commemorating the end of the Second World War, Oleg writes his first original tune, "Interlude," incorporating the melodies of Rachmaninoff. Later, continuing his attempts to make his own contribution to jazz, he composes a song called "Mirage," based on Eastern music. The group begins to feel that opportunities for further creative development in Shanghai have been exhausted.
1947. The orchestra members along with their families return to the USSR and settle in Kazan. Kazan is chosen because there is a conservatory there. The musicians want to receive an education. Upon arriving, the orchestra members decide to become a jazz collective of the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. However, in 1948, a resolution by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union about Vano Muradeli's opera "October" ruins everything. It is decided that the people do not need jazz music. The musicians are assigned to work in the opera theater and cinema hall orchestras. Oleg begins to perform as a violinist at the Theater of Opera and Ballet, and, in the autumn of 1948, he enters the conservatory along with a large number of the musicians who had arrived with him from China. But the world is not without good people! At the time, the artistic director of the Tatar State Philharmonic was a composer named A. S. Klyucharev. He immediately recognizes the potential of the orchestra from Kazan and does his best to keep it together, giving the musicians the chance to perform in Kazan and the surrounding area. Oleg begins to arrange vocal and instrumental versions of Tatar music and the most popular Soviet songs, using these arrangements as the basis of the band's concert programs. And so the years of study pass. In 1953, Oleg Lundstrem finishes the Kazan State Conservatory with a degree in composition under Professor A. S. Leman and an interdepartmental degree in symphony conducting under Professor I. Sherman. Oleg stays at the conservatory to teach a course in theoretical disciplines and lead the student symphony orchestra. But he does not forget about jazz. In 1955, the orchestra records on radio and records an entire series of songs by Tatar composers arranged for jazz by Oleg Lundstrem. With the assistance of director M. F. Bogulyubova, artistic director A. S. Klyucharev, and producer I. S. Petrovsky of the Tatar State Philharmonic, the band gives a series of concerts at the Kazan Drama Theater which meets with great success and attracts the attention of concert organizations in Moscow. Negotiations on constant concert activity begin, and an active role in them is played by the first managing director of the group, M. I. Tsin.
1956. On October 1, by order of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Socialist Federative Socialist Republic, a performance orchestra was organized in the system of the All-Russian State Concert Orchestra (later Roskontsert) under the direction of Oleg Lundstrem on the basis of the collective that had arrived from China. The group's extensive touring career began. Over a period of almost forty years, the collective would travel throughout more than 300 cities over the vast Russian territory and dozens more abroad. Hundreds of thousands of spectators attended concerts; millions more listened by radio and watched on television. Working together with the "Melody" studio, along with a number of gramophone records with popular dance music and 10 long-playing jazz music records, the band recorded pieces by native Russian composers and jazz classics in arrangements by the orchestra. The majority of the original adaptations were done by the talented arranger and composer Vitaliy Dolgoviy.
The Oleg Lundstrem Orchestra has been a devoted participant in large international jazz festivals: "Tallinn-67," "Jazz Jamboree 72" in Warsaw, "Prague-78" and "Prague-86," "Sofia-86," "Jazz in Dyuktown-88" in Holland, an art festival between the USSR and India in 1988, "Grenoble-90" in France, a festival in memory of Duke Ellington in Washington in 1991, the big band festival "Imatra-92" in Finland, a festival in Santa Barbara, USA, in 1999, and a number of international festivals in Russia.
The credo of the orchestra: on one hand, deep penetration into the character of jazz performance in its classical traditions, and on the other hand, striving to make its own contribution to the genre through composition and performance of original jazz works and arrangements.