Musical Portraits Part 10

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Nikolai Andreyevitch Rimsky-Korsakoff was born March 6th, 1844, at Tikhvin, in the government of Novgorod, Russia. His father was a civil governor and landed proprietor. He began to study the pianoforte at the age of six. He was destined for a career in the navy, and, in 1856, he was sent to study at the Petrograd Naval College. In 1861 he made the acquaintance of Balakirew and of the group about him. After a two-year cruise in the navy, Rimsky returned to Petrograd in 1865. In 1866 he was installed in furnished rooms, having decided upon becoming a composer.

He began work on "Antar" in 1868. It was performed the following year.

In 1871 he became professor of composition and orchestration at the Petrograd Conservatory. In 1872 his opera "The Maid of Pskof" was produced. Rimsky married, on June 30th of that year, Nadejeda Pourgold.

Moussorgsky was best man at the ceremony. In 1873 he became Inspector of Naval Bands. In 1874 he toured the Crimea. In 1883 he was called upon to reorganize the Imperial chapel. In 1889 he conducted two Russian concerts at the Paris Exposition. In the following year he conducted two Russian concerts in Brussels. He resigned his position as conductor of the Russian Symphony concerts and the inspectors.h.i.+p of the Imperial chapel in 1894. In 1900 he was in Brussels again. In 1904, due to his political views, he was called upon to vacate his post of Director of the Conservatory. He attended the Russian festival in Paris in the spring of 1907. The French Society of Composers, however, refused to admit him to members.h.i.+p. He died in April, 1908, at his property at Lioubensk.

The t.i.tles of his operas are: "The Maid of Pskof," 1872; "A Night in May," 1880; "Sniegouroschka," 1882; "Mlada," 1892; "Christmas Eve Revels," 1895; "Sadko," 1897; "Mozart and Salieri," 1898; "Boyarina Vera Sheloga," 1898; "The Tsar's Bride," 1899; "The Tale of Tsar Saltan,"

1900; "Servilia," 1902; "Kashchei the Immortal," 1902; "Pan Voyevoda,"

1902; "Kitj," 1907; "Le Coq d'or," 1907.

Among his orchestral compositions are: Symphony No. 1, "Serbian Fantasy," Opus 6; "Symphonic Suite Antar," Opus 9; Symphony, Opus 32.

"Spanish Caprice," Opus 34; "Scheherazade," Opus 35; "Easter Overture,"

Opus 36.

RACHMANINOFF

Sergei Va.s.silievitch Rachmaninoff was born March 29th, 1873, at Onega in the government of Novgorod, Russia. He entered the Petrograd Conservatory in 1882, studying piano in the cla.s.s of Demyaresky, theory in that of Professor L. A. Sacchetti. In 1885 he entered the Moscow Conservatory, studying under Zviereiff, Taneyef and Arensky. His first public appearance as a pianist took place in 1892. He has been composing steadily since 1894. His first symphony was produced by Glazounof in 1895. His European tours commenced in 1899. In 1903 he taught in the Moscow Maryinsky Inst.i.tute. From 1904 to 1906 he conducted at the Imperial Opera in Moscow. His own operas, "The Miser Knight" and "Francesca da Rimini," were performed at that time. After 1907 he lived in Dresden. His first American tour took place in 1909. His second began in 1918.

Among Rachmaninoff's works are three operas, "Aleko," "The Miser Knight," "Francesca da Rimini"; two symphonies, Opus 13 and Opus 27; three concertos for pianoforte, Opus 1, 18 and 30; a symphonic poem "Die Toteninsel," Opus 29; a work for chorus and orchestra, "The Bells"; two 'cello sonatas, Opus 19 and Opus 28; a pianoforte trio, Opus 9; piano pieces, Opera 3, 5, 10, 16, 23, 32; and numerous songs.

SCRIABINE

Alexander Nicolas Scriabine was born in Moscow in 1871, of aristocratic parents. In his tenth year he was placed in the 2nd Moscow Army Cadet Corps. His first piano lessons were taken from G. A. Conus. Musical theory he studied with Professor S. I. Taneieff. While still continuing the Cadet courses, he was enrolled as a student at the Moscow Conservatory of Music. He studied the pianoforte with Va.s.sily Safonoff, counterpoint first with Taneieff and later with Arensky. His studies both in the Conservatory and in the corps were completed by 1891. In 1892 he toured Europe for the first time as pianist, playing in Amsterdam, Brussels, The Hague, Paris, Berlin, Moscow and Petrograd. The next five years Scriabine devoted to both concert-tours and composition. In 1897 he became Professor of Pianoforte, playing at the Moscow conservatory, remaining such for six years. He resigned from his post in 1903 in order to devote himself entirely to composition and concertizing, living princ.i.p.ally in Beattenberg, Switzerland, and in Paris. It is during that time that he seems to have been converted to Theosophy. He spent 1905-06 in Genoa and in Geneva. In February, 1906, Scriabine embarked on a tour of the United States. He played in New York City, Chicago, Was.h.i.+ngton, Cincinnati and other cities. The next years were spent in Beattenberg, Lausanne and Biarritz. From 1908 to 1910, Scriabine lived in Brussels. Then he returned to Moscow, touring Russia in 1910, 1911 and 1912. In 1914 he visited England for the first time.

Returning to Russia just before the outbreak of the war, he set about on a work involving the unification of all the arts ent.i.tled "Mysterium."

On April 7th, 1915, he was taken ill with blood-poisoning. On April 14th he was dead.

His princ.i.p.al orchestral works are: "Le Poeme divine," Opus 43; "Le Poeme de l'Extase," Opus 54; and "Prometheus," Opus 60. It is not easy to say which of his many compositions for the pianoforte are the most important. Sonata No. 7, Opus 64; Sonata No. 8, Opus 66; Sonata No. 9, Opus 68; and Sonata No. 10, Opus 70; are perhaps the most magistral.

STRAWINSKY

Igor Fedorovitch Strawinsky was born at Oranienbaum near Petrograd, June 5th, 1882. His father was a ba.s.s singer attached to the court. Igor was destined for a legal career. But in 1902 he met Rimsky-Korsakoff in Heidelberg, and abandoned all idea of studying the law. He studied with Rimsky till 1906. His "Scherzo fantastique," inspired by Maeterlinck's _Life of the Bee_, which was produced in 1908, attracted the attention of Sergei Diaghilew to the young composer, and secured him a commission to write a ballet for Diaghilew's organization. The immediate result was "L'Oiseau de feu," which was composed and produced in 1910. "Petruschka"

was written in 1911, the composer residing in Rome at the time. "Le Sacre du printemps" was written in Clarens, where Strawinsky generally lives. It was produced in Paris in 1913. The opera "Le Rossignol," of which one act was completed in 1909, and two in 1914, was produced in Paris and in London just before the war. A new ballet "Les Noces villageoises" has not as yet been produced.

Other of Strawinsky's compositions are:

Opus 1, "Symphony in E-flat"; Opus 2, "Le Faune et la Bergere," songs with orchestral accompaniment; Opus 3, "Scherzo fantastique"; Opus 4, "Feuerswerk"; Opus 5, "Chant funebre" in memory of Rimsky-Korsakoff; Opus 6, Four Studies for the pianoforte; Opus 7, Two songs; "Les Rois des Etoiles," for chorus and orchestra; Three songs on j.a.panese poems with orchestral accompaniment; Three pieces for string-quartet; An unpublished pianoforte sonata; A ballet for clowns.

MAHLER

Gustav Mahler was born in Kalischt, Bohemia, July 7th, 1860. He died in Vienna May 18th, 1911. He studied the pianoforte with Epstein, composition and counterpoint with Bruckner. In 1883 he was appointed Kapellmeister in Ka.s.sel; in 1885 he was called to Prague; in 1886 he was made conductor of the Leipzig opera. In 1891 he went to Hamburg to conduct the opera, and in 1897 he was made director of the Vienna Court Opera. In 1908 he came to New York to conduct the operas of Wagner, Mozart and Beethoven at the Metropolitan. In 1909 he became conductor of the New York Philharmonic Society. His health broke in 1911, and he returned to Vienna.

Mahler wrote nine symphonies. The first dates from 1891, the second from 1895, the third from 1896, the fourth from 1901, the fifth from 1904, the sixth from 1906, the seventh from 1908, the eighth from 1910, and the ninth from 1911.

Other of his compositions are: "Das Klagende Lied," for soli, chorus, and orchestra; "Das Lied von der Erde," for soli, and orchestra; "Kindertotenlieder," with orchestral accompaniment; "Lieder einer fahrenden Gesellen," with orchestral accompaniment; "Des Knaben Wunderhorn," twelve songs.

REGER

Max Reger was born in Brand, Bavaria, March 19th, 1873. His father was school-teacher at Weiden in the Palatinate, and Reger, it was hoped, would follow his profession. However, the musical profession prevailed.

Reger studied with Riemann from 1890 to 1895. At first he decided to perfect himself as a pianist. Later, composition and organ-playing absorbed him. He was made professor of counterpoint in the Royal Academy in Munich in 1905. In 1907 he was made musical director of the University of Leipzig and professor of composition at the Leipzig Conservatory. From 1911 until his death he was Hofkepellmeister at Meiningen. He died in Jena, May 11th, 1916.

His works for orchestra include: "Sinfonietta," Opus 90; "Serenade,"

Opus 95; "Hiller-Variations," Opus 100; "Symphonic Prologue," Opus 120; "l.u.s.tspielouverture," Opus 123; "Konzert in Alten Stiel," Opus 125; "Romantische Suite," Opus 128; "Vier Tondichtungen nach Bocklin," Opus 130; "Ballet-Suite," Opus 132; "Mozart-Variations," Opus 140; "Violin-concerto," Opus 101; "Piano-concerto," Opus 114.

His works for chorus include: "Gesang der Verklarten," Opus 71; "Psalm 100," Opus 106; "Die Nonnen," Opus 112.

His chamber-works include: String-s.e.xtet, Opus 118; Pianoforte-quintet, Opus 64; Pianoforte-quartet, Opus 113; Five string-quartets, Opera 54, 74, 109, 121; Serenade for flute, violin and viola, Opus 77a; Trio for flute, violin and viola, Opus 76b; Nine violin sonatas, Opera 1, 3, 41, 72, 84, 103b, 122, 139; Four 'cello sonatas, Opera 5, 28, 71, 116; Three clarinet sonatas, Opera 49, 197; Four sonatas for violin solo, Opus 42.

His organ compositions include: Suite, Opus 16; Fantasy, Opus 27; Fantasy and fugue, Opus 29; Fantasy, Opus 20; Sonata, Opus 33; Two fantasies, Opus 40; Fantasy and fugue, Opus 46; The fantasies, Opus 52; Symphonic fantasy and fugue, Opus 57; Sonata, Opus 60; Fifty-two preludes, Opus 67; Variations and fugue, Opus 73; Suite, Opus 92; Intermezzo, pa.s.sacaglia and fugue, Opus 127.

His pianoforte works include: Aquarellen, Opus 25; Variations and fugue, Opus 81; "Aus Meinem Tagebuch," Opus 82; Two sonatinas, Opus 89.

He wrote over three hundred songs.

SCHOENBERG

Arnold Schoenberg was born in Vienna September 13th, 1874. He was self-taught until his 20th year. His first instruction was received from his brother-in-law, Alexander von Zemlinsky. In 1901 he went to Berlin, and became the Kapellmeister of the "Uberbrettl," the cabaret managed by Birnbaum, Wedekind and von Wolzogen. Due to the influence of Richard Strauss, he secured a position as instructor in Stern's Conservatory. In 1903 he returned to Vienna. He aroused the interest of Gustav Mahler, who secured performances for several of his works. The Rose Quartet performed the s.e.xtet "Verklarte Nacht" and the Quartet, Opus 7. The "Kammersymphonie" and the choral work "Gurrelieder" were also played. In 1910 Schoenberg was appointed teacher of composition in the Imperial Academy. In 1911 he returned to Berlin, remaining there till 1916 (?).

He is said at present to be in Vienna.

Among his compositions are:

Opera 1, 2 and 3, Songs--"Gurrelieder"; Opus 4, s.e.xtet "Verklarte Nacht"; Opus 5, "Pelleas und Melisanda"; Opus 7, 1st String-quartet; Opus 8, Songs with orchestral accompaniment; Opus 9, "Kammersymphonie"; Opus 10, 2nd String-quartet, with setting of "Entruckung," by Stefan George; Opus 11, three pieces for Piano; Opus 13, _a capella_ choruses; Opus 15, Songs; Opus 16, five Pieces for Orchestra; Opera 17 and 19, Piano pieces; Opus 21, "Die Lieder des Pierrot Lunaire."

A new Kammersymphonie and a monodrama "Erwartung" remain unpublished.

SIBELIUS

Jean Sibelius was born in Tavastehus, Finland, December 8th, 1865. He matriculated at the University of Helsingfors in 1885, but shortly after gave up all idea of studying law, and entered the Conservatory in 1886.

Here he remained three years, studying composition with Wegelius. In 1889-90 he studied with Becken in Berlin. In 1891 he went to Vienna to study instrumentation with Karl Goldmark. From 1893-97 he taught composition at the Helsingfors Conservatory. In 1897 the Finnish Senate allotted him the sum of $600 yearly for a period of ten years, in order to permit him leisure for composition. In 1900 he toured Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium and France as conductor of the Helsingfors Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1901 he was invited to conduct his own compositions at the festival of the Deutscher Tonkunstlerverein in Heidelberg. In 1914, while in America, Yale University conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Music. At present he is living in Ja.r.s.engraa, Finland.

Among Sibelius's compositions are:

Five Symphonies: No. 1, Opus 39; No. 2, Opus 43; No. 3, Opus 52; No. 4, Opus 63; No. 5 (composed in 1916).

String-quartet "Voces intimae," Opus 56.

"En Saga," Opus 9; "Karelia Overture," Opus 10; "Der Schwan von Tuonela"

and "Lemmenkainen zieht heimwarts," Opus 22; "Finlandia," Opus 26; "Suite King Christiern II," Opus 27; "Pohjohla's Daughter," Opus 49; "Nachtlicher Ritt und Sonnenaufgang," Opus 55; "Scenes historiques,"

Opus 66; "Die Okeaniden," Opus 72. Some fifty songs, etc., etc.

LOEFFLER

Charles Martin Loeffler was born in Mulhausen, Alsace, January 30, 1861.

Musical Portraits Part 10

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