Born on August 10, 1935 in Georgia, which was then still a part of the Soviet Union, Giya Kancheli is one of the most peformed living composers in the world.
Following his studies at the Tbilisi Conservatory, he began his career as an independent composer – something extremely rare in the Soviet Union at the time. His first important works were inspired by his fruitful collaboration with director Robert Sturua, for whom he wrote a lot of stage and film music. Around the same time, in the early 1970s, he was appointed musical director of the Rustaveli Theatre in Tbilisi, where he continued to compose extensively. As a member of the Soviet avant-garde, he quickly distinguished himself from his peers by developing a personal style of using extremely collected and simple thematic formulas – often taken from popular practices – and developing them throughout the composition. He is very interested in large compositional forms, composing an opera with Sturua, “music for the living”, in 1984 and writing several symphonies.
In 1991, Kancheli left Georgia and settled first in Berlin and then in Antwerp, where he has since lived for several years.