All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015


The photographer Paul Heartfield and I left our hotel and climbed in to the car that had been sent to pick us up. As we drove through the bright streets of St Petersburg and then out into the summer countryside on our way to Vyborg, I was thinking back to a day in Moscow three years before when I was sheltering from the freezing snow in a cafe with my friend Marina Tsurtsumia. She had asked me a question but I didn't notice because I had become lost in the music that was playing. 'It's something from the old times' said the waitress, seeming a little surprised that I would be interested. I wouldn't go away or stop asking about it, so after a while she just shrugged and gave me the CD. I took it back to London and I spent most of that year listening to not much else.

You see for the first time in quite a while I had heard something the way I used to hear things. For once I wasn't working out how it was made, what the style was, where it fit into the music industry and so on. I've been making records and producing music since the late 1990s and although I love it, strangely I think I had lost the ability to just get lost in it. But somehow this music had taken me back to a place I had forgotten. I didn't seem to be alone in this - whenever I played it, my friends (many of them also musicians) immediately wanted to know what it was. 

I found that it was from a film called 'Goodbye Boys' and was by a composer called Mikael Tarivediev. I was baffled to discover that the person who created it was hardly known in the UK. So I began a journey to find out more about him - and perhaps to reconnect with my own love of music.

Now, rather wonderfully, that journey had brought us to Vyborg. But why were we here? Well, we had been invited to attend the film festival at the instigation of Vera Tariverdieva, Mikael's widow. And Vera, who rather wonderfully by this time had become a friend, had arranged our visit because the festival was showing the film Goodbye Boys. Not only that, but as it was fifty years since the film had been made, its director Misha Khalik had travelled back to Russia from Israel to receive a special award. So
we came to see the film as it should be seen - in a good film theatre with its beauty and its wonderful soundtrack properly revealed - but also to meet with Misha and have the opportunity to talk with him. And we did talk and it was actually rather moving. He told us about his friendship with Mikael Tariverdiev, about their creative collaboration, about Goodbye Boys and about his own life. And what a life it has been.

Actually, it has been a life with many difficulties and many sufferings but to meet such a vibrant, positive and funny person, you might not think so. We spent some happy time together. I hope Misha felt so too. It was wonderful to see him with Vera and with two of the actors who played the boys in Goodbye Boys. (see above) It was wonderful to see him honoured properly after all this time and it was wonderful to meet his friends and family who love him so much.

We will have the pleasure of releasing a compilation of Mikael Tariverdiev's music in the West next year. People here need to hear it - they are missing out terribly. It would be wonderful if Misha Khalik's work was known here too - I love his films and I can't even speak Russian! But then there is so much Russian culture that we have been discovering that people here would love too..