A Soviet viola player and a professor at the Leningrad Conservatory, Yuri Markovich Kramarov (1929--1982) was a musician in the most beautiful meaning of the word. He taught his students how to approach the preparation of a new composition, how to care about every note in a piece, and how to relate music to other aspects of life. This was the unique secret of Kramarov's school. Unfortunately, Kramarov was in disfavor with Soviet officials for the majority of his career. Therefore, his name, recordings, editions, transcriptions, and articles are unknown outside Russia.
Kramarov's biography, teaching methods, and output are presented; his students are listed, and their careers are traced. This work also gives a survey of the history of Russian/Soviet viola performance and provides the following lists: names of the most prominent Russian/Soviet violists, compositions for viola by Russian and Soviet composers, and compositions for viola by European composers.