Dargomyzhsky, Alexander (Sergeievich)

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Dargomyzhsky, Alexander (Sergeievich)

Dargomyzhsky, Alexander (Sergeievich) , outstanding Russian composer; b. in Tula province, Feb. 14, 1813; d. St. Petersburg, Jan. 17, 1869. From 1817 he lived in St. Petersburg, where he studied piano with Schoberlechner and Danilevsky and violin with Vorontsov. At 20 he was a brilliant pianist. From 1827 to 1843 he held a government position, but then devoted himself exclusively to music, studying assiduously for 8 years. He visited Germany, Brussels, and Paris in 1845. At Moscow (Dec. 17, 1847) he produced an opera, Esmeralda (after Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris), with great success (excerpts publ. in piano score, Moscow, 1948). From 1845 to 1855 he publ. over 100 minor works (vocal romances, ballads, airs, and duos; waltzes, fantasies, etc.). On May 16, 1856, he brought out his best opera, Rusalka, at St. Petersburg (vocal score, with indications of instruments, publ. at Moscow, 1937), and in 1867, an opera-ballet, The Triumph of Bacchus (written in 1845; perf. in Moscow, Jan. 23, 1867). A posthumous opera, Kamennyi gost (The Stone Guest, after Pushkin’s poem of the same title), was scored by RimskyKorsakov and produced at St. Petersburg on Feb. 28, 1872. Of Rogdana, a fantasy-opera, only a few scenes were sketched. At first a follower of Rossini and Auber, Dargomyzhsky gradually became convinced that dramatic realism with nationalistic connotations was the destiny of Russian music. He applied this realistic method in treating the recitative in his opera The Stone Guest and in his songs (several of these to satirical words). His orch. works (Finnish Fantasia, Cossack Dance, Baba-Yaga, etc.) enjoyed wide popularity. In 1867 he was elected president of the Russian Music Soc.


N. Findeisen, A. S. D.: His Life and Work (Moscow, 1902); S. Fried, AS. D. (St. Petersburg, 1913); A. Drozdov, A. S.D. (Moscow, 1929); M. Pekelis, A. D. and His Circle (2 vols., Moscow, 1966, 1973).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire