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Lopatnikoff, Nicolai (actually, Nikolai Lvovich)

Lopatnikoff, Nicolai (actually, Nikolai Lvovich)

Lopatnikoff, Nicolai (actually, Nikolai Lvovich), outstanding Russian-born American composer; b. Tallinn, Estonia, March 16,1903; d. Pittsburgh, Oct. 7, 1976. He studied at the St. Petersburg Cons. (1914–17). After the Revolution, he continued his musical training at the Helsinki Cons. with Furuhjelm (1918–20), and then studied with Grabner in Heidelberg (1920) and Toch and Rehberg in Mannheim (1921); concurrently took civil engineering at the Technological Coll. in Karlsruhe (1921–27). He lived in Berlin (1929–33) and London (1933–39) before settling in the U.S., becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1944. He was head of theory and composition at the Hartt Coll. of Music in Hartford, Conn., and of the Westchester Cons. in White Plains, N.Y. (1939–45); then was a prof. of composition at the Carnegie Inst. of Technology (later Carnegie-Mellon Univ.) in Pittsburgh (1945–69). In 1951 he married the poet Sara Henderson Hay. He was elected to the National Inst. of Arts and Letters in 1963. His music is cast in a neo-Classical manner, distinguished by a vigorous rhythmic pulse, a clear melodic line, and a wholesome harmonic investment. A prolific composer, he wrote music in all genres; being a professional pianist, he often performed his own piano concertos with orchs.


dramatic Opera: Danton (1930–32; Danton Suite for Orch., Pittsburgh, March 25,1967). ballet:Melting Pot (1975; Indianapolis, March 26, 1976). orch.:Prelude to a Drama (1920; lost); 2 piano concertos: No. 1 (1921; Cologne, Nov. 3, 1925) and No. 2 (Düsseldorf, Oct. 16, 1930); Introduction and Scherzo (1927–29; first complete perf., N.Y., Oct. 23, 1930); 4 syms.: No. 1 (1928; Karlsruhe, Jan. 9, 1929), No. 2 (1938–39; 4-movement version, Boston, Dec. 22, 1939; withdrawn and rev. in 3 movements), No. 3 (1953–54; Pittsburgh, Dec. 10, 1954), and No. 4 (1970–71; Pittsburgh, Jan. 21, 1972); Short Overture (1932; lost); Opus Sinfonicum (1933; rev. 1942; Cleveland, Dec. 9, 1943); 2 Russian Nocturnes (1939; orig. the 2 middle movements of the Second Sym.); Violin Concerto (1941; Boston, April 17, 1942); Sinfonietta (Berkeley, Calif., Aug. 2, 1942); Concertino (1944; Boston, March 2,1945); Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orch. (Pittsburgh, Dec. 7, 1951); Divertimento (La Jolla, Calif., Aug. 19, 1951); Variazioni concertanti (Pittsburgh, Nov. 7, 1958); Music for Orchestra (1958; Louisville, Jan. 14, 1959); Festival Overture (Detroit, Oct. 12, 1960); Concerto for Orchestra (Pittsburgh, April 3, 1964; orch. version of Concerto for Wind Orch.); Partita concertante for Chamber Orch. (1966); Variations and Epilogue for Cello and Orch. (Pittsburgh, Dec. 14, 1973; orchestration of 1946 chamber piece). wind orch.: Concerto for Wind Orch. (Pittsburgh, June 23, 1963); Music for Band (1963; transcribed by William Schaefer from Music for Orchestra). chamber: 2 piano trios (1918, lost; 1935); 3 string quartets (1920; 1924, rev. 1928; 1955); Sonata for Violin, Piano, and Snare Drum (1927; rev. in 1967 as Sonata for Violin, Piano, and Percussion); Cello Sonata (1929); Arabesque for Cello or Bassoon and Piano (1931); Variations and Epilogue for Cello and Piano (1946; orchestration, 1973); Violin Sonata No. 2 (1948); Fantasia concertante for Violin and Piano (1962); Divertimento da camera for 10 Instruments (1965). piano: 4Small Piano Pieces (1920); Prelude and Fugue (1920); Sonatina (1926; rev. 1967); 2 Pieces for Mechanical Piano (1927; lost); 2 danses ironiques (1928; rev. 1967); 5 Contrasts (1930); Dialogues (1932); Variations (1933); Sonata (1943); Intervals, 7 studies (1957). vocal: Songs.


W. Critser, compiler, The Compositions of N.L.: A Catalogue (Pittsburgh, 1979).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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