Alexander Glazunov 

Portrait of Alexander Glazunov

Alexander Glazunov was a Russian late Romantic composer, conductor and professor of music. He was born on 10th August 1865 in St Petersburg, Russia and died on 21st March 1936 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France aged 70.

Major Works

Second Symphony (1866)
“Raymonda”  (1898)
Violin Concerto in A Minor (1904)
Eighth Symphony (1906) 
Piano Concerto No 1 (1911)
Concerto for Alto Saxophone, Flute, and Strings (1934)

Biography Timeline

Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov was born on 10th August 1865 in St Petersburg, Russia. His father Konstantin Glazunov was a wealthy publisher. His mother was a pupil of Mily Balakirev who taught her the piano.

1874: He begins studying piano aged nine.

1876: He writes his first compositions. 

1879: Mily Balakirev (leader of “The Five” Russian nationalist composers) recognises his talent and recommends him to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov who takes him on as a private pupil.

1882: His father becomes a member of the nobility. His First Symphony “Slavonian” is premiered in a concert conducted by Balakirev.

1884: The wealthy timber merchant Mitrofan Belyayev recognises his talent and takes him on a trip to Western Europe where he meets Franz Liszt in Weimar. Belyayev rents out a hall and hires an orchestra to play the First Symphony which is a success and leads to further Russian concerts. He composes his String Quartet No. 2.

1885: Belyayev starts a publishing house in Leipzig, Germany to publish works of Russian composers at his own expense. He also asks Glazunov, Lyadov and Rimsky-Korsakov to advise him on up and coming new young Russian composers to support.

1886: He completes his Symphony No. 2 “To the Memory of Liszt”. The Russian Symphony Concerts are begun in St Petersburg. 

1888: He makes his conducting debut. He completes String Quartet No. 3 “Quatuor Slave”.

1889: He conducts the Second Symphony at the World Exhibition in Paris.

1890: He composes Symphony No 3. He sets about helping Rimsky-Korsakov, complete some of Alexander Borodin’s works after his death including Prince Igor, Polovetsian Dances and the Third Symphony.

1892: He composes “Triumph March” for large orchestra and chorus.

1893: He composes Symphony No 4 and “Three Pieces for Piano”.

1894: He composes String Quartet No 4.

1895: He composes Symphony No 5.

1896: He is appointed conductor for the Russian Symphony Concerts. He composes Symphony No 6.

1897: He conducts the premiere of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony on 28th March which is panned by the critics.

1898: He composes the ballet in three acts “Raymonda” and String Quartet No 5.

1899: He is appointed as a professor at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. He composes “Cantata after Pushkin for solo voices, chorus and orchestra”.

1900: He composes the one act ballet “The Seasons”.

1903: He completes Symphony No 7. “Pastorale”

1904: He completes the Violin Concerto which is first performed at a Russian Musical Society concert in St Petersburg on 15th February.

1905: He is promoted to Director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory and sets about reforming it. 

1906: He completes Symphony No 8.

1907: He conducts the last of the Russian Historical Concerts in Paris on 17th May. He receives honorary Doctor of Music degrees from both the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in England.

1908: He composes The Song of Destiny dramatic overture in D minor for orchestra.

1911: He completes his Piano Concerto No 1.

1917: After the October Russian Revolution he remains in his post at the Conservatory keeping on good terms with the Bolsheviks and the Minister of Education, Anatoly Lunacharsky but begins to feel increasingly isolated. He composes his Piano Concerto No 2.

1921: He completes String Quartet No 6. 

1927: He conducts concerts and gives lectures for the centenary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s death.

1928: He leaves Russia on the pretext of going to Vienna for the Schubert Centenary but never goes back. In reality he is tired of working under the conditions at the Conservatory. He conducts an evening of his works in Paris and then travels to Portugal, Spain, England, Poland and the Netherlands. 

1929: His tour to the United States of America is unsuccessful. He marries Olga Nikolayevna Gavrilova whose daughter had been the soloist in the first Paris performance of his Piano Concerto No 2.

1930: The couple set up home in Paris. He finally resigns officially from the Conservatory where Maximilien Steinberg had been standing in for him while he was away. He composes String Quartet No 7 and “Hommage au Passé”.

1931: He composes the “Concerto-Ballata for Cello and Orchestra”.

1934: He composes the Concerto for Alto SaxophoneFlute, and Strings which is premiered in Nykoping, Sweden on 25th November. 

1935: He completes the “Fantasy in G minor for Organ”.

Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov died on 21st March 1936 in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris, France and was buried there. In 1972 his remains were taken to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in Leningrad (now St Petersburg again).

Further Information

List of compositions by Glazunov.

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