Film Composition

    As a film composer, Ljova has composed, produced, and recorded scores to three feature and over a dozen short films. Among his recent credits are a documentary for BBC and NHK, as well as the short films “Cupcake” (Tribeca FF) and “Only Love” (Woodstock FF, award for Best Original Score for Short Film at LIIFE). Recently, Ljova served as the assistant composer on Francis Ford Coppola’s 2008 release “Youth Without Youth” and 2009 release “Tetro” and assisted Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet for Aronofsky’s “The Fountain.” Ljova is an alum of the Sundance Institute’s Film Composers Lab.

    Ljova recording 'Untango' for upcoming independent feature release

    Ljova and the Kontraband

    Ljova and the Kontraband is the chamber-jam ensemble playing semi-improvized compositions by Ljova. Infusing Classical forms with new meanings, the ensemble plays a seductive brew of Ljova’s Eastern-European and Gypsy-inspired melodies, Latin rhythms, and Jazzy improvisations. The ensemble features Ljova on the viola and famiola and his close collaborators on accordion, bass, percussion and vocals. The Kontraband released its debut album “Mnemosyne” at the end of September, 2008 and is preparing for tours in Europe and the US. [More Info, Videos, Clips]

    • “Brahmsian tone, Bartok’s lines, hiccupping Hungarian rhythms, Klezmer soul and the sexy plaintiveness of tango and the blues.” — Justin Davidson, NEWSDAY (reviewing Kontraband’s show at Joe’s Pub)

    Vjola: World on Four Strings

    “Vjola: World on Four Strings” is Ljova’s debut solo recording of his compositions, performed almost exclusively on multi-tracked viola. “Vjola” has won high critical acclaim in the New York Times, Billboard Magazine, TimeOut NY, Newsday, AllAboutJazz, Jazziz. It was featured as the “World Music Pick” on NPR’s “Weekend America” and as one of the best recordings of June 2006 on NPR/WNYC “New Sounds.”

    • [Ljova] is an eclectic with an ear for texture…Throaty melodies supported by pizzicato rhythms, lush choral figures and counterpoint.
      —Allan Kozinn, NEW YORK TIMES

    • Rustic dances and evocative soundscapes, all crafted from … the gorgeously grainy purr of his fiddle.
      —Steve Smith, TIME OUT NY

    [Listen, Buy, More info]


    As an arranger, Ljova has completed dozens of musical arrangements for Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Brooklyn Rider, the Knights, the Kronos Quartet, Alondra de la Parra and the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, the rapper Jay-Z, Bond, Matmos, Ryan Star, and others. Resulting from these collaborations are arrangements of musics from Azerbaijian, China, India, Iran, Japan, Russia, Tanzania, as well as gypsy music from Romania and France.

    Ljova's arrangements appear on Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble recording

    Remix/Mashup/Online Collaboration

    Ljova has long been intrigued by the idea of collaborating online through sites like ccMixter and SpliceMusic – ccMixter (via Creative Commons) provides the legal and technological framework for easy collaboration through Samples Licenses; SpliceMusic also offers a very impressive online sequencer and community tools for music collaboration with very little know-how and no upstart costs. Ljova has uploaded some very specific viola gestures and textures — odd sounding notes, whacks, crashes — sounds which can’t at all be found in ordinary sample libraries. He also uploaded one of his newest tracks, an Indian-inspired “Heat Me Up”, posting all the parts of the tracks (melody, bass, plucks, etc) and inviting a remix.

    • Ljova’s CCMixter page
    • Justin Davidson guest-blogs on Mashup Culture on Alex Ross’ “The Rest is Noise” : “The virtuoso violist … Ljova, whom I heard do an impressive set with his improvisational Eastern European sort-of-folk ensemble at Joe’s Pub, posts a set of separate tracks, and someone who goes by the handle Hepepe mixes the melody line with an Ethiopian chant and a few other samples into a piece called “Self Portrait of Silence.” Which of course someone else could recycle all over again….”
    CCMixter logo

    Other Projects

    Contact me for details!

  • Violin/Viola Lessons
  • Voiceover work (mostly in Russian)
  • String Quartet

LJOVA (Lev Zhurbin) - film composer, arranger, violist | music for film, Ljova and the Kontraband, and other projects

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