Miaskovsky, Nikolai (Yakovlevich)

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Miaskovsky, Nikolai (Yakovlevich)

Miaskovsky, Nikolai (Yakovlevich) , eminent Russian composer and teacher; b. Novogeorgievsk, near Warsaw, April 20, 1881; d. Moscow, Aug. 8, 1950. His father was an officer of the dept. of military fortification; the family lived in Orenburg (1888–89) and in Kazan (1889–93). In 1893 he was sent to a military school in Nizhny-Novgorod, and in 1895 he went to a military school in St. Petersburg, graduating in 1899. At that time he developed an interest in music, and tried to compose. He took lessons with Kazanli, his first influences being Chopin and Tchaikovsky. In 1902–03 he was in Moscow, where he studied harmony with Glière. Returning to St. Petersburg in 1903, he took lessons with Kryzhanovsky, from whom he acquired a taste for modernistic composition in the impressionist style. In 1906, at the age of 25, he entered the St. Petersburg Cons, as a pupil of Liadov and Rimsky-Korsakov, graduating in 1911. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Miaskovsky was called into active service in the Russian army; in 1916 he was removed to Re val to work on military fortifications; he remained in the army after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917; in 1918 he became a functionary in the Maritime Headquarters in Moscow; was finally demobilized in 1921. In that year he became prof, of composition at the Moscow Cons., remaining at that post to the end of his life. A composer of extraordinary ability, a master of his craft, Miaskovsky wrote 27 syms., much chamber music, piano pieces, and songs; his music is marked by structural strength and emotional elan; he never embraced extreme forms of modernism, but adopted workable devices of tonal expansion short of polytonality, and freely modulating melody short of atonality. His style was cosmopolitan; only in a few works did he inject folkloric elements. His autobiographical notes were publ, in Sovetskaya Muzyka (June 1936); S. Shlifstein ed. a vol. of articles, letters, and reminiscences (Moscow, 1959) and a vol. of articles, notes, and reviews (Moscow, 1960). A collected edition of his works was publ, in Moscow (12 vols., 1953–56).


orch (all 1st perf. in Moscow unless otherwise given): Syms.: No. 1 in C minor, op.3 (1908; Pavlovsk, June 2, 1914), No. 2 in C-sharp minor, op.ll (1910–11; July 24, 1912), No. 3 in A minor, op.15 (1913–14; Feb. 27, 1915), No. 4 in E minor, op.17 (1917–18; Feb. 8, 1925), No. 5 in D major, op.18 (1918; July 18, 1920), No. 6 in E–flat minor, op.23 (1922–23; May 4, 1924), No. 7 in B minor, op.24 (1922; Feb. 8, 1925), No. 8 in A major, op.26 (1924–25; May 23, 1926), No. 9 in E minor, op.28 (1926–27; April 29, 1928), No. 10 in F minor, op.30 (1927; April 7, 1928), No. 11 in B–flat minor, op.34 (1931–32; Jan. 16, 1933), No. 12 in G minor, op.35 (June 1, 1932), No. 13 in B-flat minor, op.36 (1933; Winterthur, Oct. 16, 1934), No. 14 in C major, op.37 (1933; Feb. 24, 1935), No. 15 in D minor, op.38 (1933–34; Oct. 28, 1935), No. 16 in F major, op.39 (Oct. 24, 1936), No. 17 in G-sharp minor, op.41 (Dec. 17, 1937), No. 18 in C major, op.42 (Oct. 1, 1937), No. 19 in E-flat major for Band (Feb. 15, 1939), No. 20 in E major, op.50 (Nov. 28, 1940), No. 21 in F-sharp minor, op.51 (Nov. 16, 1940; perf. as a commissioned work as Symphonie fantaisie by the Chicago Sym. Orch., Dec. 26, 1940), No. 22 in B minor, op.54, Symphonie ballade (1941; Tbilisi, Jan. 12, 1942), No.23 in A minor, op.56, Symphony-Suite (1941; July 20, 1942), No. 24 in F minor, op.63 (Dec. 8, 1943), No. 25 in D-flat major, op.69 (1946; March 6, 1947), No. 26 in C major, op.79 (Dec. 28, 1948), No. 27 in C minor, op.85 (Dec. 9, 1950). Other: Overture in G major for Small Orch. (1909; rev. 1949); Molchaniye (Silence), op.9, symphonic poem after Poe (1909; June 13, 1914); Sinfo-nietta in A major, op.10, for Small Orch. (1910; rev. 1943); Alastor, op.14, symphonic poem after Shelley (1912–13; Nov. 18, 1914); Serenade in E-flat major, op.32/1, for Small Orch. (Oct. 7, 1929); Sinfonietta in C minor, op.32/2, for Strings (May 1930); Lyric Concertino in G major, op.32/2, for Small Orch. (Oct. 7, 1929); Violin Concerto in D minor, op.44 (Leningrad, Nov. 14, 1938); 2 Pieces, op.46/1, for Strings (1945); 2 Pieces, op.46/2, for Violin, Cello, and Strings (1947); Privetstvennaya uvertyura (Salutatory Overture) in D major, op.48, for Stalin’s birthday (Dec. 21, 1939); Zvenya, op.65, suite (1908; rev. 1945); Cello Concerto in C minor, op.66 (March 17, 1945); Slavonic Rhapsody, op.71 (1946); Divertissement, op.80 (1948). B a n d : 2 marches (1930); 3 marches (1941); Dramatic Overture (1942). chamber: 2 cello sonatas (1911, rev. 1945; 1948–49); 13 string quartets (1929–49); Violin Sonata (1946–47). Piano: 9 sonatas (1907–49); sets of piano pieces. VOCAL: 2 cantatas:Kirov s nami (Kirov is With Us) for 2 Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1942) and Kreml nochyu (Kremlin at Night) for Voice, Chorus, and Örch. (1947); choruses; song cycles.


A. Ikonnikov, M.: His Life and Work (N.Y., 1946); T. Livanova, N.Y. M. (Moscow, 1953); V Vinogradov, Spravochnik-putevoditel (a guide to the syms.; Moscow, 1954); S. Shlifstein, ed., Notograficheskii spravochnik (list of works; Moscow, 1962).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis Mclntire