Home Backstage AGlazunov

Return to BalletNotes Home Page

Alexander Glazunov (1865 - 1936)


 

  

 



Alexander Glazunov was born July 29, 1865 in St Petersburg, and lived a comfortable life as the son of a successful bookseller and publisher father. His mother was a good amateur pianist and his father played the violin. Glazunov studied with Balakirev, who encouraged him into a musical career, suggesting that the boy should study composition with his mother's teacher - a young musician, called Rimsky-Korsakov. Glazunov became his favorite pupil; in his teacher's words he improved "not from day to day but from hour to hour."
 
Rimsky-Korsakov and Balakirev encouraged the youth to compose and when, at just 16 years old, Glazunov produced his first symphony, they saw to it that it was performed. In Rimsky-Korsakov's words the work was a success, "The public was astounded when the composer came forwards in his high school uniform to acknowledge their applause." However, there were the inevitable gripes and rumor circulated that his wealthy parents had commissioned 'you know who' to write the piece for him.
 
At Rimsky's invitation, a wealthy timber merchant named Belayev was present at this concert of Glazunov's first symphony. He liked the work so much that he traveled to Moscow to hear it performed for a second time. Belayev and Glazunov developed a close friendship, and the timber merchant decided to form a music-publishing house, and to sponsor the Russian Symphony Concerts to bring the young Russian composers to the attention of the public. Glazunov found himself associated with the informal group of Russian nationalist composers, Borodin, Lyadov, Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov. Glazunov also earned the nickname "The little Glinka."
 
Glazunov's Second Symphony and a tone poem, Stenka Razin, were immediately successful, both with the public and critics, and attracted the attention of Franz Liszt, who conducted the First Symphony at Weimar in 1884. Glazunov conducted his Second Symphony, together with Stenka Razin, in a series of Russian concerts arranged by Belayev at the Paris Exhibition of 1899. In the same year, Glazunov was appointed professor at the St Petersburg Conservatory. After the student demonstrations of 1905 calmed down he was elected director, a position he retained in name until 1930, although after 1928 he remained abroad, chiefly in Paris.
 
He made no secret of being a musical conservative, and demonstrated this by walking out of a performance of an early work by a student of his, Sergei Prokofiev. Despite his distaste for Prokofiev's discords, he encouraged the young student and secured a performance of his original First Symphony (later destroyed). He also gave considerable encouragement to Shostakovich who remained a lifelong admirer of Glazunov. Writing about him in his memoirs, Shostakovich noted that Glazunov was able to remember every student's name, their career and compositions. He also wrote frankly, detailing not only the older man's strict teaching methods but also his addiction to vodka, which he drank surreptitiously through a rubber tube during lectures. Glazunov was also notorious in St. Petersburg for his all night drinking escapades with fellow composers.
 
Glazunov's fame increased steadily; by 1902 he was well known in England, and his name appeared regularly on American concert programs. He also traveled in Europe and conducted his own music. His one-act ballet The Seasons, created for Petipa, figured prominently in Pavlova's programs that toured the world.
 
Besides the piano, which he played masterfully, Glazunov played a variety of instruments. They included violin, cello and woodwinds, and in the last years of his life he was infatuated with jazz.
 
Glazunov felt no love for the new order that came to power after 1917; nevertheless, he remained in Leningrad until 1928, bringing a valuable sense of continuity to the Conservatory. In 1928 he left for Paris. He composed little in his last years, and died on March 21, 1936 in Paris. His last will was to be buried in Russia. Glazunov's remains were transferred to St.-Petersburg and put to rest at the cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
 
He wrote in every genre but opera. He wrote chamber music, many choral works with orchestra, eight symphonies, (for superstition he deliberately left unfinished a ninth symphony) a Violin Concerto, completed in 1904, two piano concertos and many more. He also assisted Rimsky-Korsakov in completing the opera Prince Igor, after Borodin's untimely death. Glazunov himself later refuted the legend that he was able to write down from memory the piano rendition of the overture that Borodin had played for him just once.
 
Glazunov's ballets include Raymonda, first staged in St. Petersburg in 1898, with choreography by Marius Petipa. Les ruses d'amour followed in 1900, with The Seasons in the same year. He orchestrated music by Chopin for Les Sylphides. The choreographer Fokine also made use of Stenka Razin for a ballet of that name. His 1894 composition Scenes de Ballet was not intended to be a dance piece but was written as a gift for the Russian Opera Orchestra in St. Petersburg.
 
Glazunov's music was and is individualistic, melodious, and filled with talent. His style ranged from Russian nationalism to Lisztian romanticism to classicism and his music was a true bridge between the Russian and the so-called German style of composition. He utilized folk melodies and songs that give his music its distinctly Russian character. Immensely popular in his day, and greatly honored as both a teacher and a composer, the works most often performed and recognized are those of his early life. Today, many consider his music old fashioned, and stereotyped, and it is less frequently performed.
 
The compositions of Alexander Glazunov arranged for use in Gerard Charles' Cinderella are as follows:
Suite Characteristique, Opus 9
The Seasons, Opus 67
Scenes de Ballet¸Opus 52
Symphony # 1 (2nd movement), Opus 5
Symphony # 5 (2nd movement), Opus 55
 
 
 
A Complete Listing of Glazunov's Compositions.
 
Opus 1: String Quartet No. 1 in D flat major (1881-1882)
Opus 2: Suite on the theme S-A-S-C-H-A for piano (1883)
Opus 3: Overture No. 1 in G minor for orchestra "On Three Greek Themes" (1882)
Opus 4: Five Romances (songs) (1882-1885)
Opus 5: Symphony No. 1 in E major "Slavonian Symphony" (1881-1884) Revised in 1885 and 1929.
Opus 6: Overture No. 2 in D major for orchestra (1883)
Opus 7: Serenade No. 1 in A major for orchestra (1882)
Opus 8: "To the Memory of a Hero", elegy for orchestra (1885)
Opus 9: Suite Characteristique in D major for orchestra (1884-1887)
Opus 10: String Quartet No. 2 in F major (1884)
Opus 11: Serenade No. 2 in F major for small orchestra (1884)
Opus 12: Poème Lyrique in D flat major for orchestra (1884-1887)
Opus 13: "Stenka Razin", symphonic poem in B minor(1885)
Opus 14: Two Pieces for orchestra (1886-1887)
Opus 15: Five Novelettes for string quartet (1886)
Opus 16: Symphony No. 2 in F sharp minor "To the Memory of Liszt" (1886)
Opus 17: Elegy in D flat major for cello and piano (1888)
Opus 18: Mazurka in G major for orchestra (1888)
Opus 19: "The Forest", fantasy in C sharp minor for orchestra (1887)
Opus 20: Two Pieces for cello and orchestra (1887-1888)
Opus 20A: Two Pieces for cello and piano (1888)
Opus 21: Marriage March in E flat major for orchestra (1889)
Opus 22: Two Pieces for piano (1889)
Opus 24: "Reverie" in D flat major for horn and piano (1890)
Opus 25: Preludium and Two Mazurkas for piano (1888)
Opus 26: String Quartet No. 3 in G major "Quator Slave" (1886-1888)
Opus 26A: "Slavonian Feast", symphonic sketches after the final-part of String Quartet No. 3 in G major for orchestra (1888)
Opus 27: Two Songs after Pushkin (1887-1890)
Opus 27A: Orchestration of Two Songs after Pushkin
Opus 28: "The Sea", fantasy in E major for orchestra (1889)
Opus 29: Oriental Rhapsody in G major for orchestra (1889)
Opus 30: "The Kremlin", symphonic picture in three parts (1890)
Opus 31: Three Etudes for piano (1891)
Opus 32: "Meditation" in D major for violin and orchestra (1891)
Opus 32A: "Meditation" in D major for violin and piano (1891)
Opus 33: Symphony No. 3 in D major (1890)
Opus 34: "The Spring", symphonic picture in D major (1891)
Opus 35: Suite in C major for string quartet (1887-1891)
Opus 36: Small Waltz in D major for piano (1892)
Opus 37: Nocturne in D flat major for piano (1889)
Opus 38: "In Modo Religioso", quartet for trumpet, horn and two trombones (1892)
Opus 39: String Quintet in A major for string quartet and cello (1891-1892)
Opus 40: Triumph March for large orchestra and chorus (1892)
Opus 41: Large Concert Waltz in E flat major for piano (1893)
Opus 42: Three Miniatures for piano (1893)
Opus 43: Salon Waltz in C major for piano (1893)
Opus 44: Elegy for violin and piano (1893)
Opus 45: "Carnival", overture for large orchestra and organ in F major (1892)
Opus 46: "Chopiniana", suite after piano pieces by Chopin for orchestra (1893)
Opus 47: Concert Waltzes No. 1 in D major for orchestra (1893)
Opus 48: Symphony No. 4 in E flat major (1893)
Opus 49: Three Pieces for piano (1894)
Opus 50: "Cortège Solennel" in D major for orchestra (1894)
Opus 51: Concert Waltzes No. 2 in F major for orchestra (1894)
Opus 52: Ballet Scenes, suite in A major for orchestra (1894)
Opus 53: Fantasy "From Dark into Light" for orchestra (1894)
Opus 54: Two Impromptus for piano (1895)
Opus 55: Symphony No. 5 in B flat major (1895)
Opus 57: "Raymonda", ballet in three acts (1896-1897) First performance: At St. Petersburg in 1898.
Opus 57A: Suite from "Raymonda" for orchestra (1898)
Opus 58: Symphony No. 6 in C minor (1896)
Opus 59: Six Songs for middle voice (1898)
Opus 60: Six songs for high voice (1897-1898)
Opus 61: "Ruses d'Amour", ballet in one act (1898) First performance: At St. Petersburg in 1900.
Opus 62: Preludium and Fugue in D minor for piano (1895)
Opus 63: Festive Cantata for solo-voices, women's chorus and two pianos eight hands (1898) Dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Pavlov-Institute.
Opus 64: String Quartet No. 4 in A minor (1894)
Opus 65: Cantata after Pushkin for solo-voices, chorus and orchestra (1899)
Opus 66: Hymn after Pushkin for women's chorus and piano (1889)
Opus 67: "The Seasons", ballet in one act (1900), First performance: At St. Petersburg in 1900.
Opus 68: "Pas de Caractère" from "Raymonda" in G major for orchestra (1899)
Opus 69: Intermezzo Romantica in D major for orchestra (1900)
Opus 70: String quartet No. 5 in D minor (1898)
Opus 71: "Chant du Ménestrel" for cello and piano (1900)
Opus 71A: "Chant du Ménestrel" for cello and orchestra (1900)
Opus 72: Theme and Variations in F sharp minor for piano (1900)
Opus 73: Solemn Overture for orchestra (1900)
Opus 74: Piano Sonata No. 1 in B minor (1901)
Opus 75: Piano Sonata No. 2 in E minor (1901)
Opus 76: March on a Russian Theme in E flat major (1901)
Opus 77: Symphony No. 7 "Pastorale" in F major (1902-1903)
Opus 78: Ballade in F major for orchestra (1902)
Opus 79: "From the Middle Ages", suite in E major for orchestra (1902)
Opus 80: "Chant Sans Bornes" for soprano and alto with piano accompaniment (1900)
Opus 81: Dance-Scene in A major for orchestra (1904)
Opus 82: Concerto in A minor for violin and orchestra (1904)
Opus 83: Symphony No. 8 in E flat major (1905-1906)
Opus 84: "The Song of Destiny", dramatic overture in D minor for orchestra (1908)
Opus 85: Two Preludes for orchestra (1906)
Opus 86: Russian Fantasy in A major for balalaika-orchestra (1906)
Opus 87: "To the Memory of Gogol", symphonic prologue in C major (1909)
Opus 88: Finnish Fantasy in C major for orchestra (1909)
Opus 89: Finnish Sketches in E major for orchestra (1912)
Opus 90: Introduction and Dance of Salomé to the drama of Oscar Wilde (1908)
Opus 91: "Cortège Solennel" in B flat major for orchestra (1910)
Opus 92: Concerto No. 1 in F minor for piano and orchestra (1910-1911)
Opus 93: Preludium and Fugue No. 1 in D major for organ (1906-1907)
Opus 94: "Love" after Shukovsky for mixed chorus a cappella (1907)
Opus 95: Music to the drama "the King of the Jews" after K.K. Romanov (1913)
Opus 96: Paraphrase on the Hymn of the Allies for orchestra (1914-1915)
Opus 97: Song of the Volga-skippers for chorus and orchestra (1918)
Opus 98: Preludium and Fugue No. 2 in D minor for organ (1914)
Opus 99: Karelian Legend in A minor for orchestra (1916)
Opus 100: Concerto No. 2 in B major for piano and orchestra (1917)
Opus 100A: Mazurka Oberek in D major for violin and piano (1917)
Opus 100B: Mazurka Oberek in D major for violin and orchestra (1917)
Opus 101: Four Preludes and Fugues for piano (1918-1923)
Opus 102: Romance of Nina from the play "Masquerada" (1918)
Opus 103: Idylle in F sharp major for piano (1926)
Opus 104: Fantasy in F minor for two pianos (1919-1920)
Opus 105: Elegy in D minor for string quartet (1928)
Opus 106: String Quartet No. 6 in B major (1920-1921)
Opus 107: String Quartet No. 7 in C major "Hommage au passé" (1930)
Opus 108: Concert Ballade in C major for cello and orchestra (1931)
Opus 109: Saxophone Quartet in B major (1932)
Opus 109A: Concerto in E flat major for alto-saxophone and orchestra (1934)
Opus 110: Fantasy in G minor for organ (1934-1935)
Works without Opus number
 
Five Pieces for string quartet (1879-1881)
Procession dedicated to V.V. Stassov for voice and piano (1883)
"Idylle" for horn and string orchestra (1984)
Serenade No. 2 for horn and string orchestra (1984)
String Quartet On B-LA-F in B major (1887-1888)
"Les Chanteurs de Noël", in F major from the String Quartet "Jour de Fête" (1888)
"From Hafiz", romance after Pushkin (song) (1888)
March of the Devil in B flat major for orchestra (1889)
Fanfares dedicated to the 25th composing-anniversary of Rimsky-Korsakov (1890)
Scherzo-Quadrille for two pianos (1890)
Madrigal in A major for two pianos four hands (1895)
"Do I hear your voice?", romance after Pushkin (song) (1891)
"Proud Song" (1892)
"Fanfares" dedicated to the first performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Opera "Mlada" for piano (1892)
"Valse Miniature" in G minor for piano (1893)
Barcarole on black keys in F sharp major for piano (1894)
Oriental Suite for orchestra (1895)
Allegro Vivo in E flat major for orchestra (1895)
Theme and variations in G minor for string quartet (1895)
Revised for string orchestra in 1917.
Variation on a Russian theme for piano (1899)
Composed with Rimsky-Korsakov, Liadov, etc.
Variation on a Russian Folksong Theme No. 3 (1898)
Composed with nine other Russian composers.
Two Movements for string quartet (1898-1899)
Contribution to the Collection "Les Vendredis".
"Albumleave" in D flat major for trumpet and piano (1899)
Small Gavotte in C major for piano (1900)
Gagliarde in D major and Mazurka in F minor (1900)
Variations on a Russian Theme (1901)
Slow Waltz for orchestra in F major (1901)
Cantata to the memory of M. Autolsky after Marshak (1902)
"The Elected of the Russian People", song/hymn after Sokolov for chorus and piano (or orchestra) (1906)
Procession dedicated to the birthday of Rimsky-Korsakov in D major for piano four hands (1907)
Small Ballet Suite for orchestra (1910)
Eastern Dance for orchestra (1911)
Cantata dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the St. Petersburg Conservatory for chorus and orchestra (1912)
To the memory of M.D. Skobelev for chorus and orchestra (1914)
Variations after the Variations for string quartet from 1895 in G minor for string orchestra (1917)
Two Poems-Improvisations in G minor and E minor for piano (1917-1918)
Preludium and Fugue in E minor for piano (1926)
Fantasy for two pianos (1929-1930)
Poème Epique for orchestra (1933-1934)
"Arab Melody" for cello and piano
Menuet for piano
 
 
 Return to top of page