Rubinstein, Nikolai (Grigorievich)

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Rubinstein, Nikolai (Grigorievich)

Rubinstein, Nikolai (Grigorievich) , prominent Russian pianist, conductor, teacher, and composer, brother of Anton (Grigorievich) Rubinstein; b. Moscow, June 14, 1835; d. Paris, March 23, 1881. He began to study piano with his mother at the age of 4, when his brother, 6 years older than he, was already on the road to fame as a child prodigy; was taken to Berlin with his brother in 1844, studying with T. Kullak (piano) and Dehn (harmony and counterpoint). The brothers met Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer; returning to Moscow in 1846, Nikolai began to take lessons with A. Villoing. He also studied law, and received a degree from the Univ. of Moscow (1855); subsequently was a minor functionary in the government; earned his living by giving private lessons. In 1858 he began his concert career; appeared in Russia, and also in London. In 1859 he became head of the Moscow branch of the Russian Musical Soc.; in 1866 this society opened the Moscow Cons., of which he was director until his death. From 1860 he was the regular conductor of the Moscow concerts of the Imperial Russian Musical Soc. In 1878 he conducted 4 Russian concerts at the Paris Exposition; at the first and the fourth of the series he performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (which he had criticized sharply when Tchaikovsky first submitted it to him in 1874). Anton Rubinstein declared that Nikolai was a better pianist than himself, but this generous appreciation was not accepted by the public. As an educator, however, Nikolai played perhaps a greater role than his famous brother. Among his pupils were S. Taneyev, Siloti, and Emil Sauer.


C. Bowen, “Free Artist”: The Story of Anton and N. R.(N.Y., 1939).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Rubinstein, Nikolai (Grigorievich)

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