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Nikolai Myaskovsky - JPop.com
Artist info
Nikolai Myaskovsky

Nikolai Myaskovsky

Nikolai Myaskovsky


See also original artist name in Russian: Николай Яковлевич Мясковский Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsky (ru: Николай Яковлевич Мясковский, also transliterated as Miaskovskii or Miaskovsky) (April 20, 1881 – August 8, 1950) was a Russian composer. He is sometimes referred to as the "father of the Soviet symphony". Myaskovsky was born in Novogeorgiyevsk (Polish - Modlin Fortress), near Warsaw, Congress Poland, Russian Empire, the son of an engineer officer in the Russian army. Read more on Last.fm
See also original artist name in Russian: Николай Яковлевич Мясковский Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsky (ru: Николай Яковлевич Мясковский, also transliterated as Miaskovskii or Miaskovsky) (April 20, 1881 – August 8, 1950) was a Russian composer. He is sometimes referred to as the "father of the Soviet symphony". Myaskovsky was born in Novogeorgiyevsk (Polish - Modlin Fortress), near Warsaw, Congress Poland, Russian Empire, the son of an engineer officer in the Russian army. After the death of his mother the family was brought up by his father's sister, Yelikonida Konstantinovna Myaskovskaya, who had been a singer at the Saint Petersburg Opera. The family moved to Saint Petersburg in his teens.

Though he learned piano and violin he was discouraged from a musical career, and entered the military; however, a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony conducted by Arthur Nikisch in 1896 made him decide to become a composer. In 1902 he completed his training as an engineer, like his father. As a young subaltern with a Sappers Battalion in Moscow, he took some private lessons with Reinhold Glière and when he was posted to St Petersburg he studied with Ivan Krizhanovsky as preparation for entry into the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, where he enrolled in 1906 and became a student of Lyadov and Rimsky-Korsakov. A late starter, Myaskovsky was the oldest student in his class but soon became firm friends with the youngest, Sergei Prokofiev, and they remained friends throughout the older man's life [1].

At the conservatory, they shared a dislike of their professor Anatoly Lyadov, which, since Lyadov disliked the music of Edvard Grieg, led to Myaskovsky's choice of a theme by Grieg for the variations with which he closed his String Quartet No. 3 [2]. Prokofiev and Myaskovsky worked together at the conservatory on at least one work, a lost symphony, parts of which were later scavenged to provide material for the slow movement of Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 4.

They both later produced works using materials from this period — in Prokofiev's case the Third and Fourth piano sonatas; in Myaskovsky's, other works, such as his Tenth string quartet and what are now the Fifth and Sixth piano sonatas, all revisions of works he wrote at this time. Early influences on Myaskovsky's emerging personal style were Tchaikovsky, strongly echoed in the first of his surviving symphonies (in C minor, Op. 3, 1908/1921), which was his Conservatory graduation piece, and Scriabin, whose influence comes more to the fore in Myaskovsky's First Piano Sonata in D minor, Op. 6 (1907-10), described by Glenn Gould as 'perhaps one of the most remarkable pieces of its time',[3] and his Third Symphony in C minor, Op.

15 of 1914, a turbulent and lugubrious work in two large movements. Myaskovsky graduated in 1911 and afterwards taught in Saint Petersburg, where he also developed a subsidiary career as a penetrating musical critic. (He was one of the most intelligent and supportive advocates in Russia for the music of Stravinsky, [4] though the story that Stravinsky dedicated The Rite of Spring to Myaskovsky is untrue.) [5] Called up during World War I, he was wounded and suffered shell-shock on the Austrian front, then worked on the naval fortifications at Talinn. During this period he produced two diametrically opposed works, his Symphony No. 4 (Op.

17, in E minor) and his Fifth (Op. 18, in D major). The next few years saw the violent death of his father at the hands of a revolutionary, and the death of his aunt to whom he was closely attached. He served in the Red Army from 1917 to 1921; in the latter year he was appointed to the teaching staff of the Moscow Conservatory and membership of the Composers' Union. Works of his middle years In the 1920s and 30s Myaskovsky was the leading composer in the USSR dedicated to developing basically traditional, sonata-based forms.

He wrote no opera - though in 1918 he planned one based on Dostoevsky's novel The Idiot, with a libretto by Pierre Souvtchinsky[6]; but he would eventually write a total of 27 symphonies (plus three sinfoniettas, three concertos and works in other orchestral genres), 13 string quartets, 9 piano sonatas as well as many miniatures and vocal works. Through his devotion to these forms, and the fact that he always maintained a high standard of craftsmanship, he was sometimes referred to as 'the musical conscience of Moscow'. His continuing commitment to musical modernism was shown by the fact that along with Mossolov, Popov and Roslavets, Myaskovsky was one of the leaders of the Association for Contemporary Music. He remained in close touch with Prokofiev during the latter's years of exile from the USSR, but never followed him into exile in the West.

Nevertheless, in the 1920s and 30s Myaskovsky's symphonies were quite frequently played in Western Europe and the USA. In 1935, a survey made by CBS of its radio audience asking the question 'Who, in your opinion, of contemporary composers will remain among the world's great in 100 years?' placed Myaskovsky in the top ten along with Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Sibelius, Ravel, Manuel de Falla and Fritz Kreisler.[7] Despite his personal feelings about the Stalin regime he did his best not to engage in overt confrontation with the Soviet State. His most immediate reaction to the events of 1917-21 inspired his Symphony No. 6 (1921–3, rev.

1947 — this is the version that is almost always played or recorded) his only choral symphony and the longest of his 27 symphonies, sets a brief poem (in Russian though the score allows Latin alternatively — see the American Symphony Orchestra page below on the origins of the poem, — the soul looking at the body it has abandoned.) The finale contains quite a few quotes — the Dies Irae theme, as well as French revolutionary tunes. The years 1921 – 1933, the first years of his teaching at the Conservatory, were years in which he most often experimented in music, producing works such as the Tenth and Thirteenth symphonies, Fourth piano sonata, and First string quartet — also some of the suites of piano pieces — whose harmony is very much stretched. Perhaps the Thirteenth symphony stands alone even among them for experimentation, written in a single atmospheric and strange movement complete with fugato. It was the only work by the composer premiered in the United States. The next few years, after 1933, showed primarily a retreat from that style, though with — again mostly — no general retreat in craftsmanship. The Violin Concerto dates from these years — in all he was to write two concerti, one for violin and also a Cello concerto (several times recorded by Mstislav Rostropovich and also by Julian Lloyd Webber for Philips Classics), or three if we count the Lyric Concertino, Op.

32. Another standout, besides the Violin Concerto, of the years up to 1940 is the one-movement Symphony no. 21 (in F-sharp minor, Op. 51) produced in that year and recorded by Morton Gould, a compact and mostly lyrical work, very different in harmonic language from the Thirteenth. Last ten years and classicizing The next year contained the Symphony-Ballade (symphony 22) in B minor, quite likely inspired in part by the first few years of the war.

The year 1941 also saw an evacuation, along with Prokofiev and Khatchaturian among others, to what were then the Kabardino-Balkar regions. This is why Prokofiev's 2nd string quartet and Myaskovsky's 23rd symphony or 7th string quartet contain themes in common — they are Kabardinian folk-tunes the composers took down. The sonata-works (symphonies, quartets, etc.) written in this period (especially starting with the 24th symphony, the piano sonatina, the 9th quartet) while Romantic in tone and style are direct in harmony and development. He does not deny himself a teasingly neurotic scherzo, as in his last two string quartets (that in the thirteenth quartet, his last published work, is frantic, and almost chiaroscuro but certainly contrasted) and the general paring down of means usually allows for direct and reasonably intense expression, as with the cello concerto and second cello sonata, the latter dedicated to Rostropovich. What there is not, is much experiment, to suggest as with some earlier works that Scriabin or Schoenberg might still be an influence.

Some things may work better and some worse in a late style like this. This may have been, of course, and in part or in whole, an attempt to dodge condemnation by tha authorities, especially after the Zhdanov Decree. There was of course no dodging possible, and in 1947 Myaskovsky was singled out, with Shostakovich, Khachaturian and Prokofiev, as one of the principal offenders in writing music of anti-Soviet, 'anti-proletarian' and formalist tendencies. Myaskovsky refused to take part in the proceedings, despite a visit from Tikhon Khrennikov pointedly inviting him to deliver a speech of repentance at the next meeting of the Composers' Union.

[8] He was only rehabilitated posthumously after his death from cancer in 1950, leaving an output of eighty-seven published opus numbers spanning some forty years and students with recollections. (There is also a recollection in the Volkov-Shostakovich Testimony.) Myaskovsky was awarded with the Stalin Prize six times —no other composer was awarded this prize so often. Character and Influence Myaskovsky was long recognized as an individualist even by the Soviet establishment. In the 1920s the critic Boris Asafiev commented that he was 'not the kind of composer the Revolution would like; he reflects life not through the feelings and spirit of the masses, but through the prism of his personal feelings. He is a sincere and sensible artist, far from "life's enemy", as he has been portrayed occasionally.

He speaks not only for himself, but for many others'.[9] He never married and was shy, sensitive and retiring; Pierre Souvtchinsky believed that a 'brutal youth (in miltary school and service in the war)' left him 'a fragile, secretive, introverted man, hiding some mystery within. It was as if his numerous symphonies provide a convenient if not necessary refuge in which he could hide and transpose his soul into sonorities'.[10] Stung by the many accusations in the Soviet press of 'individualism, decadence, pessimism, formalism and complexity', Myaskovsky wrote to Asafiev in 1940 'Can it be that the psychological world is so foreign to these people?'[11] Shostakovich, who visited Myaskovsky on his deathbed, described him afterwards to the musicologist Marina Sabinina as 'the most noble, the most modest of men'.[12] Mstislav Rostropovich, for whom Myaskovsky wrote his Second Cello Sonata late in life, described him as 'a humorous man, a sort of real Russian intellectual, who in some ways resembled Turgenev'.[13] As professor of composition at Moscow Conservatory from 1921 until his death, Myaskovsky exercised an important influence on his many pupils. The young Shostakovich considered leaving Leningrad to study with him, and those who did become his students were eventually to include such composers as Khachaturian, Dmitri Kabalevsky, Vissarion Shebalin, Rodion Shchedrin, Andrei Eshpai, Alexander Lokshin, Boris Tchaikovsky, and Evgeny Golubev, a teacher and prolific composer whose students included Alfred Schnittke — the degree and nature of his influence on his students is difficult to measure. What is lacking is an account of his teaching methods, what and how he taught, or more than brief accounts of his teaching; Shchedrin makes a mention in an interview he did for the American music magazine Fanfare, and that section in Testimony, if authentic, is another.

It has been said that the earlier music of Khachaturian, Kabalevsky and other of his students has a Myaskovsky flavor, with this quality decreasing as the composer's own voice emerges (since Myaskovsky's own output is internally diverse such a statement needs further clarification, of course. See this biographical essay on Kabalevsky's music for a case in point) — while some composers, for instance the little-heard Evgeny Golubev, kept something of his teacher's characteristics well into their later music. The latter's sixth piano sonata is dedicated to Myaskovsky's memory and the early 'Symphony No.0' of Golubev's pupil Alfred Schnittke, released on CD in 2007, has striking reminiscences of Myaskovsky's symphonic style and procedures. Read more on Last.fm.

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