Glazunov, Alexander (Konstantinovich)
Glazunov, Alexander (Konstantinovich)
Glazunov, Alexander (Konstantinovich), eminent Russian composer and teacher; b. St. Petersburg, Aug. 10, 1865; d. Neuilly-sur-Seine, March 21, 1936. Of a well-to-do family (his father was a book publisher), he studied at a technical high school in St. Petersburg, and also took lessons in music with N. Elenkovsky. At 15, he was introduced to RimskyKorsakov, who gave him weekly lessons in harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration. He made rapid progress, and at the age of 16 completed his 1st Sym., which was conducted by Balakirev on March 29, 1882, in St. Petersburg. So mature was this score that Glazunov was hailed by Stasov, Cui, and others as a rightful heir to the masters of the Russian national school. The music publisher Belaiev arranged for publication of his works, and took him to Weimar, where he met Liszt. From that time Glazunov composed assiduously in all genres except opera. He was invited to conduct his syms. in Paris (1889) and London (1896-97). Returning to St. Petersburg, he conducted concerts of Russian music. In 1899 he was engaged as an instructor in composition and orchestration at the St. Petersburg Cons. He resigned temporarily during the revolutionary turmoil of 1905 in protest against the dismissal of Rimsky-Korsakov by the government authorities, but returned to the staff after full autonomy was granted to the Cons, by the administration. In 1905 Glazunov was elected director and retained this post until 1928, when he went to Paris. In 1929 he made several appearances as conductor in the U.S. He was the recipient of honorary degrees of Mus.D. from the univs. of Cambridge and Oxford (1907). Although he wrote no textbook on composition, his pedagogical methods left a lasting impression on Russian musicians through his many students who preserved his traditions. His music is often regarded as academic, yet there is a flow of rhapsodic eloquence that places Glazunov in the Romantic school. He was for a time greatly swayed by Wagnerian harmonies, but resisted this influence successfully; Lisztian characteristics are more pronounced in his works. Glazunov was one of the greatest masters of counterpoint among Russian composers, but he avoided extreme polyphonic complexity. The national spirit of his music is unmistakable; in many of his descriptive works, the programmatic design is explicitly Russian. His most popular score is the ballet Raymonda. The major portion of his music was written before 1906, when he completed his 8th Sym.; after that he wrote mostly for special occasions. He also completed and orchestrated the overture to Borodin’s Prince Igor from memory, having heard Borodin play it on the piano.
(all 1st perf. in St. Petersburg [Petrograd] unless otherwise given): DRAMATIC: B a l l e t : Raymonda (1896; Jan. 19, 1898); The Ruses of Love (1898; 1900); The Seasons (1899; Feb. 20, 1900). OTHER: Introduction and Dance of Salome for Salome by O. Wilde (1912); incidental music to The King of the Jews by K. Romanov (Jan. 9, 1914). ORCH.: 9 syms.: No. 1, in E major (1881; March 29, 1882; rev. 1885,1929), No. 2, in F-sharp minor (1886; Paris, June 29, 1889), No. 3, in D major (Dec. 20, 1890), No. 4, in E-flat major (1893; Feb. 3, 1894), No. 5, in B-flat major (1895; London, Jan. 28, 1897), No. 6, in C minor (1896; Feb. 21, 1897), No. 7, in F major (1902; Jan. 3, 1903), No. 8, in E-flat major (Dec. 22, 1906), and No. 9, in D major (1910; completed by G. Yudin, 1948); 2 Overtures on Greek Themes (1881, 1883); 2 Serenades (1883, 1884); Lyric Poem (1884); Stenka Razin, symphonic poem (1885); To the Memory of a Hero (1885); Characteristic Suite (1885); Idyll and Oriental Reverie (1886); The Forest, symphonic poem (1887); Mazurka (1888); Melody and Spanish Serenade for Cello and Orch. (1888); Slavonic Festival (1888; from String Quartet No. 3); Wedding March (1889); The Sea, symphonic fantasy (1889); Oriental Rhapsody (1890); The Kremlin, musical picture (1891); Spring, musical picture (1891); Chopiniana, suite on themes by Chopin (1893); Carnaval, overture (1893); 2 Concert Waltzes (1894); 2 Solemn Processionals (1894, 1910); Ballet Suite (1894); From Darkness to Light, fantasy (1894); Fantasy (1895); Suite (1898) and Characteristic Dance (1900) from Raymonda’, Romantic Intermezzo (1900); Festival Overture (1900); Song of a Minstrel for Cello and Orch. (1900; also for Cello, Piano, and Orch.); March on a Russian Theme (1901); Ballade (1902); From the Middle Ages, suite (1902; Jan. 3, 1903); Ballet Scene (1904); Violin Concerto (1904; March 4, 1905, L. Auer soloist); Russian Fantasy for Balalaika Orch. (March 11, 1906); 2 Preludes: No. 1, In Memory of V. Stasov (1906) and No. 2, In Memory of Rimsky-Korsakov (1908); The Song of Destiny, overture (1908); In Memory of N. Gogol (1909); Finnish Fantasy (1909; March 27, 1910); 2 piano concertos (1910; Nov. 11, 1917); Finnish Sketches (1912); Karelian Legend, musical picture (1914); Para-phrase on National Anthems of the Allies (1915); Mazurka- Oberek for Violin and Orch. (1917; orchestration by I. Yampolsky of work for Violin, Piano, and Orch.); Variations for Strings (1918); Concerto- Ballata for Cello and Orch. (1931; Paris, Oct. 14, 1933, Maurice Eisenberg soloist); Saxophone Concerto (1931; Nyko-ping, Nov. 25, 1934, Sigurd Rascher soloist); Epic Poem (1934). CHAMBER: 7 string quartets: No. 1, in D major (1882), No. 2, in F major (1884), No. 3, Quatuor Slave, in G major (1888), No. 4, in A minor (1894), No. 5, in D minor (1898), No. 6, in B- flat major (1921), and No. 7, in C major (1930); 5 Novelettes for String Quartet (1886); Elegy to the Memory ofF. Liszt for Cello and Piano (1886); Reverie for Horn and Piano (1890); Suite for String Quartet (1891); String Quintet (1895); Meditation for Violin and Piano (1891); In modo religioso for Brass Quartet (1892); Elegy for Viola and Piano (1893); Mazurka-Oberek for Violin and Piano (1917); Elegy for String Quartet (1928); Saxophone Quartet (1932). Piano : Suite on the Theme “Sacha” (1883); Barcarolle and Novelette (1889); Prelude and 2 Mazurkas (1889); Nocturne (1889); 3 Etudes (1890); Little Waltz (1892); Grand Concert Waltz (1893); 3 Miniatures (1893); Salon Waltz (1893); 3 Pieces (1894); 2 Impromptus (1895); Prelude and Fugue (1899); Theme and Variations (1900); 2 sonatas (both 1901); 4 Preludes and Fugues(1918-23); Idylle (1926); Prelude and Fugue (1926); Suite for 2 Pianos (1920). VOCAL: Triumphal March for Chorus and Orch. for the Chicago Columbian Exposition (1893); Coronation Cantata (1894); Cantata in Memory of Pushkin’s 100th Birthday (1899); Hymn to Pushkin for Women’s Chorus and Piano (1899); Love for Chorus (1907); Prelude-Cantata for the 50th Anniversary of the St. Petersburg Cons. (1912); 21 songs.
A. Ossovsky, G.: His Life and Works (St. Petersburg, 1907); V. Belaiev, G. (Vol. 1, Petrograd, 1922); V. Derzhanovsky, A. G. (Moscow, 1922); I. Glebov, G. (Leningrad, 1924); G. Fedorova, G. (Moscow, 1947; 2nd ed., 1961); H. Gunther, A. G. (Bonn, 1956); M. Ganina, G.: Life and Works (Leningrad, 1961); D. Gojowy, A. G.: Sein Leben in Bildern und Dokumenten: Unter Ein beziehung des biographischen Fragments von G.s Schwiegersohn Herbert Gunther (Munich, 1986); D. Venturini, A. G., 1865-1936: His Life and Works (Delos, Ohio, 1992).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire
Glazunov, Alexander (Konstantinovich)