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Rubinstein, Anton Grigoryevich


RUBINSTEIN, ANTON GRIGORYEVICH (1829–1894), Russian virtuoso pianist and composer. Born in Vykhvatinetz, Podolia, Rubinstein, whose parents abandoned Judaism soon after his birth, had his first piano lessons from his mother and appeared as a prodigy in Moscow in 1839, then in Paris and London. He won the approval of Liszt, was influenced by *Mendelssohn whom he met in London, and by the time he was 24 had had two operas performed. In 1858 the grand duchess Helena Pavlovna of Russia appointed him court pianist. With her help, he founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1862, becoming its director. Resuming his tours, he was repeatedly acclaimed as a concert pianist in Europe and the U.S., and also gained renown for his own compositions. In 1890 he established the Rubinstein Prize, an international competition for young pianists and composers. Some of his compositions reflected the influence of his Jewish background, such as the operas The Demon (1871), The Maccabees (1875), Nero (1879), and Sulamith (1883); the oratorios Paradise Lost (1855), The Tower of Babel (1870), concertos for piano, violin, and cello, string quartets, trios, and Moses (1887). His works also included ten symphonies, sonatas, piano works, and over 100 vocal pieces. Little of his music, however, has remained in the concert repertoire. An English version of Anton Rubinstein's autobiography appeared in 1903. Anton's younger brother, nikolay grigoryevich (1835–1881), was also an outstanding pianist, conductor and teacher. He founded the Moscow Conservatory (1866), which he headed until his death, and actively promoted the music of Tchaikovsky, who dedicated a piano trio to his memory.


C.D. Bowen, "Free Artist," The Story of Anton and Nicholas Rubinstein (1961), incl. bibl.; L. Barenboym, Anton Grigoryevich Rubinshteyn, 2 vols. (Rus., 1957); T.A. Khoprova, Anton Grigoryevich Rubinshteyn 1829–1894 (Russ., 1963); Grove, Dict; Riemann-Gurlitt; mgg.

[Michael Goldstein]

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