Prominent Russians: Aleksandr Glazunov
Aleksandr Glazunov was a Russian composer, professor and rector of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. His works of the late Russian Romantic period reconciled nationalism and cosmopolitanism in Russian music.
Child musical prodigy
Glazunov was born into a wealthy merchant family – his father was a prominent publisher and book trader in St. Petersburg. Glazunov’s mother was a good pianist and had a major influence on Aleksandr’s music education. She hired the best piano teachers for her son. To her great satisfaction, Glazunov was an eager student and as early as 13 he revealed a great talent for composition. In 1879 he met Mily Balakirev, one of the founders of the Russian nationalist school of composers known as The Five or The Mighty Handful.
Impressed by Glazunov’s talent, Balakirev recommended him to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, a composer and a member of The Five. Rimsky-Korsakov took it upon himself to teach Glazunov the theory of composition, harmony and instrumental accompaniment. Glazunov was a bright student and was able to cover the whole Conservatory program in just a year and a half.
Glazunov composed his first symphony at the age of 16, which was first played at a free school concert. It was also later performed at the Moscow Exhibition, conducted by Rimsky-Korsakov. Glazunov’s symphony was very well received and was followed by other works, which were just as fine as his first piece.
Glazunov with Fedor Chaliapin and Vladimir Stasov
Portrait of Alexander Glazunov.