Yakov Gubanov is a classical composer, pianist, and teacher. Born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1954, he began playing the piano and composing music at a very young age and went on to earn his degree in composition from the Moscow Conservatory in 1976 and a Ph.D. in music theory in 1983. During his years in Moscow he was one of the last private students of Dmitri Shostakovich, with whom he studied over the course of five years.
Among his major compositions are "24 Etudes for Orchestra", Magnificat for choir and orchestra, Violin Concerto, Sonatas for Orchestra and for solo instruments, Symphonic Poems and Overtures. His Nachtmusik for oboe, cello, and piano, is published by Hans Sikorski (Hamburg) and is frequently performed in Germany, Poland, Switzerland, and the United States. His "Trio for Violin, Viola, and Piano" was included in the collection "Masterpieces of Ukrainian Chamber Music".
His "Symphony No.3" and "Movement for Piano, Percussion, and Strings" were released in Kiev as part of the collection on the history of the Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Volodymyr Sirenko.
Over the first decade of the XXI century, he dedicated himself mostly to sacred choral music. His Christmas motet for mixed choir “Videntes Magi Stellam", was commissioned and performed extensively in Italy by Coro Polifonico Citta' di Rovigo, and premiered for American audience by the King's Chapel Choir in Boston. His madrigal for four voices "Benedicta et Venerabilis", commissioned by the Italian vocal ensemble Cantica Symphonia, was performed and broadcast on national public radio in Italy and France. In 2008 it was released on Glossa label CD Stella del Nostro Mar and was awarded the Diapason d’Or prize.
He was Composer-in-Residence for the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus for three years, during which he was commissioned four new pieces for a cappella choir. The collaboration with this choir continues to date.
Yakov is currently back to writing instrumental music and is working on a large symphonic work.
Yakov Gubanov has an established reputation as one of the best accompanists for silent films in the world. He has given over 500 performances and has been composer in residence at the Harvard Film Archive for over ten years. His style of accompaniment is a live improvisation to what is happening on the screen, making each performance a unique one-of-a-kind experience.
He has provided live improvisation to silent films at international festivals in Germany (Schlosskirche Ettersburg Musik Festival, and Weimarer Fruhjahrstage fur zeitgenossische Musik), in Italy Le Giornate del Cinema Muto and Canada Cinemateque. He participated as a composer and pianist in the 4th Cultural Construction Annual Concert Series promoted by the Boston Creative Music Alliance. His improvisation to Dziga Vertov's "The Man with a Movie Camera" was featured in the exhibition "Music Video/Silent Film: Innovations in the Moving Image at the RISD Museum, Rhode Island. He performed at the music festival of Ivrea, in the Italian Alps (Festival Musicale della Via Frangicena Canavesana).
Yakov Gubanov has been teaching composition for over thirty years and his lectures have been enjoyed by audiences worldwide. He began teaching music theory at the age of 23 at the Kiev Conservatory, Ukraine, where he designed his own courses in contemporary harmony and analysis. After two decades of being on the faculty at the Kiev Conservatory, he moved to Germany to be a guest professor at the Franz Liszt Hochschule fur Musik in Weimar. During these years he traveled extensively to give lectures at Universities and Music Academies in Germany (Heidelberg, Hildesheim, Marburgh, Potsdam, Rostock), Italy (Venice, Padua), and Israel (Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Bar-Ilan). In America he has given lectures at Harvard University, Northeastern University, Wellesley College, Middlebury College, and Bowdoin College.
In 2002 he joined the Composition Department of Berklee College of Music in Boston. During the years as a Berklee Professor, he taught over 2,000 students and created original courses in Fugal Writing, Sonata Form, 20th Century Counterpoint, and the Life and Works of Dmitri Shostakovich.
After retiring from Berklee College of Music, Yakov has settled with his wife in Italy, where he dedicates his time mostly to composition, while continuing to travel for guest lectures and performances.