Sunday, February 8, 2009

Vasily Kalinnikov

The Stetson band is doing a Kalinnikov piece now (his Finale from Symphony in G minor). Might as well find out who he is....

Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov was born in 1866 at Voina, in the Oryol District, where Turgenev, Henry James's "beautiful genius", had been born in 1818.

The son of a police official, he was allowed, through the ecclesiastical connections of the family, to study at the seminary in Oryol, where he took charge of the choir at the age of fourteen.

In 1884 he went to Moscow as a scholarship student at the Philharmonic Society School, taking lessons on the bassoon and in composition with Alexander Il'yinsky and the self-taught Pavel Blaramberg, a statistician by profession.

The poverty of his family which had made it impossible for him to study at the Conservatory forced him to earn a living playing the bassoon, timpani or violin in theatre orchestras and further weakened his health, already affected by childhood privations.

He was able to profit, however, from the friendship and teaching of S. N. Kruglikov.

In 1892 Kalinnikov's fortunes seemed about to take a turn for the better, with his appointment, on the recommendation of Tchaikovsky, as conductor at the Malïy Theatre in Moscow and the following year by a similar appointment at the Moscow Italian Theatre, but a few months later his deteriorating health compelled him to resign in order to seek in the relative warmth of the South Crimea a cure for the tuberculosis from which he suffered.

He was to remain in Yalta for the rest of his short life, completing there his two symphonies, and, among other instrumental works, incidental music for the play Tsar Boris by Alexey Tolstoy, staged at the Malïy Theatre in 1899.

Towards the end of his life Kalinnikov received some financial relief through the good offices of Sergey Rachmaninov, who had visited him in Yalta and been appalled at the conditions in which he found him living.

He died early in January 1901, before his 35th birthday.

It's amazing that Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov helped him along. It's interesting to think of three of the most talented Russian composers alive at the same time, helping each other...

Here's a video of the first half of the Finale from Kalinnikov's Symphony, played by some high school band, sorry about that:

No comments: