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Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov (1866-1901), the
Russian romantic composer,
was born in Voina, Oryol District, in the family of a police officer. The
poverty of his family made it impossible for him to study at the conservatory
and forced him to make a living playing bassoon, violin and timpani in different
He was poor and sick with tuberculosis. His name was
known well only among members of his family. After receiving a scholarship
at the School of the Philharmonic Society in 1884, in 1892 with the
recommendation of Tchaikovsky he managed to get the position of conductor at the
Maliy Theatre in Moscow, and later at the Moscow Italian Theatre.
Unfortunately his disease forced him to resign shortly after
this appointment and move to Yalta, a sea resort in the Crimea.
Rachmaninov, visiting Kalinnikov was appalled by the conditions in which he
found him living. Towards the end of his life, Kalinnikov received some
financial relief through the good offices of Sergei Rachmaninov, who also
introduced Kalinnikov's compositions to his publisher Jurgenson.
The death of the 34-year-old composer induced Jurgenson to
offer Kalinnikov's widow an unexpectedly high sum for her husband's manuscripts,
with the remark that he paid because the composer's death had multiplied the
value of his works by ten. You may see, that nothing has changed in the
music industry in a hundred years - the dead composers are much more welcome
Kalinnikov's First Symphony, the best known
composition by him, was written during 1894 and 1895, and was dedicated to one
of his teachers and friends Semyon Kruglikov. It was premiered in 1897 in
Kiev, and shortly after that - in Moscow, Vienna and Berlin. It is amazing
after reading his biography to find skillful counterpoint in the development
sections, rich colourful orchestration and no clichés in the tutti. All
polyphonic lines are individualized by different timbres, which allow hearing of
the smallest details of the orchestral texture.
Symphony #1 demonstrates the mastery of the composer and his great spirit.
to the best samples of Russian symphonic music.
Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai (1844-1908) is a celebrated
Russian composer and theorist. His family was preparing him for a naval
career. He became a naval officer and undertook a round-the-world trip on
the clipper "Almaz". Rimsky-Korsakov absorbed numerous
impressions from the journey and many of these impressions were turned into his
Though Rimsky-Korsakov met Balakirev and joined the
"Mighty Five" in 1861, his real development as a composer started
after his return from the round-the-world trip to Saint-Petersburg. The
completion of his First Symphony under the supervision of Balakirev and the
successful premiere of this composition became a pivotal moment in his final
determination to pursue a career as a composer. After resigning from the
navy, Rimsky-Korsakov was 27 when he received an invitation to teach at the
Saint-Petersburg Conservatory. Being a great composer himself
Rimsky-Korsakov also taught Stravinsky and Prokofiev. He together with
Glazunov finished and orchestrated "Prince Igor" after the death of
Borodin and made the final edition of "Boris Godunov" after the death
The Saint-Petersburg conservatory now bears the name of Rimsky-Korsakov.
It was common for Rimsky-Korsakov to revise his
compositions many times. His first opera "The Maid of Pskov"
written in 1871 after Lev Mei's melodrama with the same name, was revised in
1877 and, the third time, in 1894. Working on the third edition,
Rimsky-Korsakov decided to compose "The Noblewoman Vera Sheloga"
- the one-act opera based on the introduction to Mei's melodrama. The
introduction tells a story of the maid's mother - a noblewoman Vera Sheloga and
her father - Tsar Ivan the Terrible. The maid was their illegitimate
child. Both operas are represented in our programme by overtures, and
orchestral episodes from "The Maid of Pskov".
The unique feature of "The Maid of Pskov" is that
this opera was written at the same time (1871), in the same room, and at the
same table with the second version of "Boris Godunov" by Mussorgsky.
Being room-mates the composers had very similar musical ideas and we can
recognize it in their music. Topics taken from Russian history were also
very similar. This is an example of the unique phenomenon of "twin
Evgeni Svetlanov (1928-2002) was born in Moscow.
He studied piano with Maria Gurvich, composition with Mikhail Gnessin and Yuri
Shaporin and conducting with Gauk. After graduating from the Gnessin
Institute and Moscow Conservatory he joined the staff of the Bolshoi as a
principal conductor (1963-1965). In 1965 he became a leader of the USSR
Symphony Orchestra and was in this position till 2000.
In 1979 Svetlanov received appointment as principal
guest conductor at the London
Symphony Orchestra and the last concert in his life was given in London in 2002.
Svetlanov received numerous honors and awards: 1968 -
People's Artist of the USSR;
1978 - the Order of Lenin; 1983 - Soviet State Prize for Creative Achievements;
Order for Meritorious Services to the Nation. He also was awarded the
Paris Grand Prix
for his recording of the complete symphonies by Tchaikovsky.
Svetlanov's work at the position of principal conductor of
the USSR Symphony
Orchestra from 1965 till 2000 resulted in the performance and recording of
the entire Russian symphonic repertoire.
©2003 Evgeni Kostitsyn
Symphony No. 1 in G minor
1. Allegro moderato
2. Andante commodamente
3. Scherzo. Allegro non troppo 7:34
4. Finale. Allegro moderato 7:55
5. Overture to the opera "The Noblewoman Vera Sheloga"
6. Overture to the opera "Maid of Pskov"
7. Intermezzo ("Maid
of Pskov", Act
8. Intermezzo ("Maid of Pskov", Act
9. In the Woods, Tsar's Hunting, Storm, Musical Picture
("Maid of Pskov", Act III)
Total Time - 61:29
The USSR Symphony Orchestra
Evgeni Svetlanov, conductor
cover painting "Eternal Peace" by Isaac Levitan
Kalinnikov - recorded in 1975. Recording Engineer -
Rimsky-Korsakov - recorded in 1985. Recording Engineer - Kozhukhova