Asafiev, Boris (Vladimirovich)

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Asafiev, Boris (Vladimirovich)

Asafiev, Boris (Vladimirovich), prominent Russian musicologist and composer; b. St. Petersburg, July 29, 1884; d. Moscow, Jan. 27, 1949. He took courses in history and philology at the Univ. of St. Petersburg (graduated, 1908), and in orchestration with Rimsky-Korsakov and in composition with Liadov at the St. Petersburg Cons, (graduated, 1910). In 1914 he began writing music criticism under the pseudonym Igor Glebov. In 1917 he helped to found the music dept. of the Petrograd Inst. of the History of the Arts, becoming director of its music history dept. in 1920. From 1924 to 1928 he was ed. of the journal Novaya Muzyka. From 1925 to 1943 he was prof. of history, theory, and composition at the Leningrad Cons. In 1943 he went to Moscow as a prof. and director of the research section of the Cons., and as a senior research fellow at the Inst. for the History of the Arts. In 1948 he was made chairman of the Union of Soviet Composers. Asafiev was an influential writer on music. Among his works are Russkaya poeziya v russkoy muzïke (Russian Poetry in Russian Music; Petrograd, 1921; 2nd ed., rev., 1922); Instrumental’ noye tvorchestvo Chaykovskovo (Tchaikovsky’s Instrumental Works; Petrograd, 1922); Pyotr Il’ich Chaykovsky: Evo zhizn’i tvorchestvo (Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Life and Works; Petrograd, 1922); Simfonicheskiye etyudï (Symphonic Studies; Petrograd, 1922; 2ndéd., 1968); Kniga o Stravinskom (A Book About Stravinsky; Leningrad, 1929); Muzïkal’naya forma kak protsess (Music Form as a Process; 2 vols., Moscow, 1930, 1947; 3rd éd., 1971); Russkaya muz’ika ot nachala XIX stoletiya (Russian Music from the Beginning of the XIX Century; Moscow, 1930; 2nd éd., 1968, by E. Orlova as Russkaya muzïka: XIX i nachala XX veka [Russian Music: The XIX and Early XX Centuries]); Kompozitor’i pervoy polovini XIX veka: Russkaya klassicheskaya muzïka (Composers of the First Half of the XIX Century: Russian Classical Music; Moscow, 1945); Glinka (Moscow, 1947; 2nd éd., 1950); Kriticheskiye stat’i, ocherki i retsenzü (Critical Articles, Essays and Reviews; Moscow, 1967); Ob opere: Izbranniye stat’i (Collected Opera Criticism; Leningrad, 1976). As a composer, Asafiev was much less significant. Among his numerous compositions were 11 operas; 28 ballets; 5 syms.: No. 1, Pamyati Lermontova (In Memory of Lermontov; 1938), No. 2, Iz epokh krestyanskikh vosstaniy (From the Age of the Peasant Uprisings; 1938), No. 3, Rodina (Homeland; 1938–42), No. 4, Privetstvennaya (Welcome; 1938–42), and No. 5, Vremena goda (The Seasons; 1942; unfinished); chamber music; piano pieces; songs.


A. Ossovsky, B. V. A.: Sovetskaya muzïka (Moscow, 1945); D. Kabalevsky, B. V. A.—–Igor Glebov (Moscow, 1954); E. Orlova, B. V. A.: Put’ issledovatel’ya i publitsista (B.V. A/s Development as a Researcher and Writer; Leningrad, 1964); J. Jiránek, Asafajevova teorie intonarne: Jeji geneze a vyznam (A.–s Intonation Theory: Its Origins and Significance; Prague, 1967).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire