Alexandrovich Serov (Russian: Валенти́н Алекса́ндрович
Серо́в; 19 January 1865 – 5 December 1911) was a Russian
painter, and one of the premier portrait artists of his
Life and work
Youth and education
Serov was born in Saint Petersburg, son of the Russian
composer Alexander Serov, and his wife Valentina Bergman, a
composer of German-Jewish background. In his childhood he
studied in Paris and Moscow under Ilya Repin and in the St.
Petersburg Academy of Arts (1880–1885) under Pavel
Serov's early creativity was sparked by the realistic art of
Repin and strict pedagogical system of Chistyakov. Further
influences on Serov were the old master paintings he viewed
in the museums of Russia and Western Europe, friendships
with Mikhail Vrubel and (later) Konstantin Korovin, and the
creative atmosphere of the Abramtsevo Colony, to which he
was closely connected.
Serov. Self-portrait, 1880s
The greatest works of Serov's early period were
portraits: The Girl with Peaches (1887), and The
Girl Covered by the Sun (1888), both in the
In these paintings Serov concentrated on spontaneity
of perception of the model and nature.
In the development of light and color, the complex
harmony of reflections, the sense of atmospheric
saturation, and the fresh picturesque perception of
the world, there appeared the features of early
From 1890 on, the portrait became the basic genre in
Serov's art. It was in this field that his early
style would become apparent, the paintings notable
for the psychologically pointed characteristics of
his subjects. Serov's favorite models were actors,
artists, and writers (Konstantin Korovin, 1891,
Isaac Levitan, 1893, Nikolai Leskov, 1894, Nikolai
Rimsky-Korsakov, 1898, - all in the Tretyakov
abstaining from the polychromatic, brightly colored
painting style of the 1880s, Serov often preferred a
dominant scale of black-grey or brown tones.
Impressionistic features appeared sometimes in
composite construction of a portrait, or to capture
a sense of spontaneous movement.
As in the work of his contemporaries
John Singer Sargent and Anders Zorn, the impressionism is not
doctrinaire, but derives as much from the study of Hals and
Velázquez as from modern theory. Receiving wide popularity, in 1894
Serov joined with the Peredvizhniki (The Itinerants), and took on
important commissions, among them portraits of grand duke Pavel
Alexandrovich, (1897, Tretyakov Gallery), S.M. Botkin, 1899, and F.F.
Yusupova, 1903 as well as Princess Olga Orlova (these in the Russian
Museum in St. Petersburg). In these truthful, compositionally
skillful, and picturesque executions in the grand manner, Serov
consistently used linear-rhythmic drawing coupled with decorative
At the same time, he developed a contrasting direction: he
frequently produced intimate, heartfelt, chamber portraits, mainly
of children and women. In portraits of children Serov aspired to
capture pose and gesture, to reveal and emphasize a spontaneity of
internal movement, sincere cleanliness and clearness of attitude of
the child (Children, 1899, Russian Museum; Mika Morozov, 1901,
Tretyakov gallery). Serov frequently called upon various graphic
techniques - watercolors, pastels, lithographs and so forth. Figures
in Serov's portraits gradually became more and more graphically
refined and economical, particularly during the late period (Vasily
Kachalov, 1908, Tamara Karsavina, 1909; numerous figures from Ivan
Krylov's fables, 1895–1911). From 1890 to 1900 Serov produced many
landscape compositions on country themes, in which the artistic
direction took a romantic turn.
Marriage and family
Serov married Olga Trubnikova in 1887. His wife and his children
were the subject of many of his works. Notably, his painting
"Children" was of his sons Yura and Sasha.
During his late period, which began in 1900, Serov
was a member of "The World of art", an influential
Russian art association and magazine which grew, in
part, out of dissatisfaction with the Itinerants
movement. At the start of the 20th century, Serov
was at a stylistic turning point: features of
impressionism disappeared from his work, and his
modernistic style developed, but the characteristic
truthful and realistic comprehension of the nature
of his subjects remained constant. In the early 20th
century Serov created heroic portrait images; within
the genre of the fashionable portrait, Serov focused
on the dramatic depiction of creative artists,
writers, actors, and musicians of import: Maxim
Gorki's portraits (1904), A.M. Gorki's museum,
Moscow; Maria Yermolova (1905), Feodor Chaliapin
(charcoal, 1905) - both in the Tretyakov Gallery,
and Helena Roerich (1909).
beliefs were clearly shown during the Revolution
from 1905 to 1907: he depicted a number of satirical
figures exposing chastisers. A full member of the
St.Petersburg Academy of Arts since 1903, in 1905 he
resigned as a gesture of protest against the
execution of striking workers and their families on
9 January, Bloody Sunday. His late creativity found
expression in historical painting (Peter II
departure and Empress Elizabeth Petrovna on hunting,
1900, Russian Museum), and depth of comprehension of
the historical maintenance of an epoch (Peter I,
distemper, 1907, Tretyakov Gallery). The last years
of Serov's life were marked by works on themes from
classical mythology. While addressing images from
the ancient tradition, Serov endowed classical
subject matter with a personal interpretation.
Valentin died in Moscow on 5 December 1911. He is
buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery.
The best works of Serov are among the greatest of Russian realistic
art. He taught in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and
Architecture from 1897 to 1909), and among his students were Pavel
Kuznetsov, N. N. Sapunov, Martiros Saryan, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, N.P.
Ulyanov, and Konstantin Yuon.
A minor planet, 3547 Serov,
discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Zhuravlyova in 1978 is
named after him.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Valentin Serov. Portrait of Henrietta
Wiertz (22 February 1806 – 18 June 1865) was a Belgian
romantic painter and sculptor.
Antoine Wiertz. Self-Portrait
Born in Dinant from a relatively poor family, he entered the
Antwerp art academy in 1820. Thanks to his protector
Pierre-Joseph de Paul de Maibe, a member of the Second
Chamber of the States-General, king William I of the
Netherlands awarded an annual stipend to Wiertz from 1821
onwards. Between November 1829 and May 1832, he stayed in
Paris, where he studied the old masters at the Louvre.
In 1828, Wiertz came out
second in the competition for the prestigious Prix de Rome
which he attained on his second attempt in 1832; it enabled
him to go to the French Academy at Rome, where he resided
from May 1834 until February 1837. Upon his return, he
established himself in Liège with his mother.
During his stay in Rome,
Wiertz worked on his first great work, Les Grecs et les
Troyens se disputant le corps de Patrocle ("Greeks and
Trojans fighting for the body of Patroclus", finished in
1836), on a subject borrowed from book XVII of Homer's
Iliad. It was exhibited in Antwerp in 1837, where it met
with some success. Wiertz submitted the work for the Paris
Salon of 1838, but it arrived too late and was refused.
At the Paris Salon of 1839, Wiertz showed not only his
Patrocles, but also three other works: Madame Laetitia
Bonaparte sur son lit de mort ("Madame Laetitia Bonaparte on
her deathbed"), La Fable des trois souhaits—Insatiabilité
humaine ("The fable of the three wishes—Human
insatiability") and Le Christ au tombeau ("Christ
entombed"). Badly hung and lit, his entry elicited
indifference on the part of the public, and provoked sarcasm
among the critics. This second humiliation led to a profound
rancour against art critics and against Paris, as expressed
in his virulent pamphlet Bruxelles capitale, Paris province.
In 1844, Wiertz painted a
second version of his Patrocles on an even bigger scale than
the first (the 1836 version measures 3.85m by 7.03m; the
1844 version 5.20m by 8.52). The Rome version is now in the
Museum of Walloon Art in Liège, the 1844 in the Wiertz
Museum in Brussels.
After the Paris disaster,
Wiertz veered more and more to the excessive. A fine example
is the monumental La Chute des Anges rebelles ("The Fall of
the rebellious Angels", 1841), on an arched canvas of 11.53m
The death of his mother in
1844 was a terrible blow to the artist. He left Liège in
1845 to settle in Brussels for good. During this period he
painted a confrontation of Beauty and Death, Deux jeunes
filles—La Belle Rosine (1847), which remains perhaps his
most famous work.
Dissatisfied with the shiny effect of oil painting, he
developed a new technique combining the smoothness of oil
painting with the speed of execution and the dullness of
painting in fresco. This technique of mat painting entailed
the use of a mixture of colours, turpentine and petrol on
holland. La Lutte homérique ("The Homeric struggle", 1853)
was the first big-scale painting executed in this technique.
However, the components used in this technique are
responsible for the slow decay of the works produced with
Many of his works from the
1850s have a social of philosophical message, often
translated in delirious imagery, like Faim, Folie et Crime
("Hunger, Madness and Crime", 1853), La Liseuse de Romans
("The Reader of Novels", 1853), Le Suicide ("The Suicide",
1854), L'Inhumation précipitée ("The premature burial",
1854), Le Dernier Canon ("The last gun", 1855).
Antoine Wiertz. Esmeralda
Wiertz was also a fine
portrait painter, who made self-portraits at various ages.
As a sculptor, he produced his most important project
towards the end of his life: a series of plasters
representing Les Quatre Âges de l'Humanité ("The Four Ages
of Humanity", 1860–1862), reproduced in marble for the
Wiertz museum by Auguste Franck.
Influenced mainly by Rubens
and the late Michelangelo, Wiertz' monumental painting often
moves between classical academism and lurid romanticism,
between the grandiose and the ridiculous. Although his work
was often derided as art pompier, his pictorial language
nevertheless preannounced symbolism and a certain kind of
surrealism, two currents that would be very strong in
Félix Edouard Vallotton
(December 28, 1865 – December 29, 1925) was a Swiss/French
painter and printmaker associated with Les Nabis. He was an
important figure in the development of the modern woodcut.
Felix Vallotton. Self Portrait
Life and work
He was born into a conservative middle-class family in
Lausanne, and there he attended Collège Cantonal, graduating
with a degree in classical studies in 1882. In that year he
moved to Paris to study art under Jules Joseph Lefebvre and
Gustave Boulanger at the Académie Julian. He spent many
hours in the Louvre, where he greatly admired the works of
Holbein, Dürer and Ingres; these artists would remain
exemplars for Vallotton throughout his life. Vallotton's
earliest paintings, chiefly portraits, are firmly rooted in
the academic tradition. In 1885 he painted the Ingresque
Portrait of Monsieur Ursenbach as well as his first painted
self-portrait (seen at left), which received an honorable
mention at the Salon des artistes français in 1886.
During the following decade Vallotton painted, wrote art
criticism and made a number of prints. In 1891 he executed
his first woodcut, a portrait of Paul Verlaine. The many
woodcuts he produced during the 1890s were recognized as
innovative, and established Vallotton as a leader in the
revival of true woodcut as an artistic medium. In the
western world, the relief print, in the form of commercial
wood engraving, had long been utilized mainly as a means to
accurately reproduce drawn or painted images and, latterly,
photographs. Vallotton's woodcut style was novel in its
starkly reductive opposition of large masses of
undifferentiated black and areas of unmodulated white.
Vallotton emphasized outline and flat patterns, and
generally eliminated the gradations and modeling
traditionally produced by hatching. He was influenced by
post-Impressionism, Symbolism, and especially by the
Japanese woodcut: a large exhibition of ukiyo-e prints had
been presented at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1890, and
Vallotton, like many artists of his era an enthusiast of
Japonism, collected these prints.
His woodcut subjects included domestic scenes, bathing
women, portrait heads, and several images of street crowds
and demonstrations—notably, several scenes of police
attacking anarchists. He usually depicted types rather than
individuals, eschewed the expression of strong emotion, and
"fuse[d] a graphic wit with an acerbic if not ironic humor".
Vallotton's graphic art reached its highest development in
Intimités (Intimacies), a series of ten interiors published
in 1898 by the Revue Blanche, which deal with tension
between men and women. Vallotton's woodcuts were widely
disseminated in periodicals and books in Europe as well as
in the United States, and have been suggested as a
significant influence on the graphic art of Edvard Munch,
Aubrey Beardsley, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
By 1892 he was affiliated
with Les Nabis, a group of young artists that included
Pierre Bonnard, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Maurice Denis, and
Édouard Vuillard, with whom Vallotton was to form a lifelong
friendship. During the 1890s, when Vallotton was closely
allied with the avant-garde, his paintings reflected the
style of his woodcuts, with flat areas of color, hard edges,
and simplification of detail. His subjects included genre
scenes, portraits and nudes.
Examples of his Nabi style are
the deliberately awkward Bathers on a Summer Evening
(1892–93), now in the Kunsthaus Zürich, and the symbolist
Moonlight (1895), in the Musée d'Orsay.
Felix Vallotton. Portrait of Edouard Vuillard
In 1899 Vallotton married
Gabrielle Rodrigues-Henriques, a wealthy young widow with
three children, and in 1900 he attained French citizenship.
Around 1899, his printmaking activity diminished as he
concentrated on painting, developing a sober, often bitter
realism independently of the artistic mainstream. His
Portrait of Gertrude Stein (1907) was painted as an apparent
response to Picasso's portrait of the previous year, and in
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas Stein described the
very methodical way in which Vallotton painted it, working
from top to bottom as if lowering a curtain across the
Vallotton's paintings of the post-Nabi period found
admirers, and were generally respected for their
truthfulness and their technical qualities, but the severity
of his style was frequently criticized. Typical is the
reaction of the critic who, writing in the March 23, 1910
issue of Neue Zürcher Zeitung, complained that Vallotton
"paints like a policeman, like someone whose job it is to
catch forms and colors. Everything creaks with an
intolerable dryness ... the colors lack all joyfulness." In
its uncompromising character his art prefigured the New
Objectivity that flourished in Germany during the 1920s, and
has a further parallel in the work of Edward Hopper.
Felix Vallotton. The Demonstration
He continued to publish occasional art criticism, in
addition to other writings. He wrote eight plays, some of
which received performances (in 1904 and 1907), although
their reviews appear to have been unfavorable. He also wrote
three novels, including the semi-autobiographical La Vie
meurtrière (The Murderous Life), begun in 1907 and published
Vallotton responded in 1914
to the coming of the First World War by volunteering for the
French army, but he was rejected because of his age. In
1915–16 he returned to the medium of woodcut for the first
time since 1901 to express his feelings for his adopted
country in the series, This is War, his last prints. He
subsequently spent three weeks on a tour of the Champagne
front in 1917, on a commission from the Ministry of Fine
Arts. The sketches he produced became the basis for a group
of paintings, The Church of Souain in Silhouette among them,
in which he recorded with cool detachment the ruined
landscape. In his last years Félix Vallotton concentrated
especially on still lifes and on "composite landscapes",
landscapes composed in the studio from memory and
imagination. Always a prolific artist, by the end of his
life he had completed over 1700 paintings and about 200
prints, in addition to hundreds of drawings and several
sculptures. He died on the day after his 60th birthday,
following cancer surgery in Paris in 1925.
His brother Paul was an art
dealer; he founded the Galerie Paul Vallotton in Lausanne in
1922, which continued operation for many years under the
control of his descendants.
Manet - the
father' of Impressionism — causes a sensation with a painting
accepted by the the Salon. As with 'Dejeuner sur I'herbe' of
1863, the subject (a recumbent Venus) is inspired by a classical
precedent, but it has been reinterpreted in a contemporary
manner. Manet's enthusiastic champion, Emile Zola, is one of the
few critics to raise his voice in defence of this thoroughly
Manet, in a fit of despondency, destroys several of his sketches.
15th Degas goes to stay with his mother's relatives in
21st Bazille invites Monet, who is hard up, to share a studio
at 6 rue de Furstenberg, facing the church of St-Germain-des-Pres.
3rd Manet submits nine paintings to the dealer Louis
Martinet's Societe des Beaux-Arts, but only two are accepted.
Pissarro takes a job as a bank messenger because he is in such
desperate financial straits.
Monet meets and starts living with a nineteen-year-old girl from
Lyons named Camille Doncieux.
Monet in Bed after his
The intimacy of this portrait of Monet -recovering
in bed from the accident to his leg which he
suffered shortly after his arrival at the inn in
Chailly — gives an idea of Bazille's affection for
Monet invites Bazille to join him at an inn in Chailly, near
Barbizon, so they can paint together. Shortly after his
friend's arrival, Monet injures his leg and is confined to
bed. Cezanne meets Pissarro while studying at the Aeademie
Suisse, an art school where there is no formal teaching.
1st The Royal Academy in London rejects two paintings
that have been submitted by Manet.
7th Opening of the Salon. The exhibition includes Jesus Mocked by the Soldiers and Olympia
by Manet; War Scene from the Middle Ages by
Degas; Summer Evening and a portrait of
Sisley's father by Renoir; three landscapes by Pissarro; and
two works by Morisot. Also included are two of Monet's
landscapes, The Lighthouse at Honfleur and The Headland of La Hive at Low Tide, which
receive a favourable mention in the Gazette des
Beaux-Arts and elsewhere - to the fury of Manet, who
finds his name has been confused with Monet's by some of the
critics. 18th Pissarro's first daughter, Jeanne-Rachel, is
1st Manet exhibits three still lifes Peonies in
a Vase, Fruit on a Table and
Still Life with Fish - at Cadart's gallery in the
15th The dealer Jean Durand-Ruel dies, and his son,
Paul, takes over the management of the business in the rue
de la Paix. Renoir meets Lise Trehot, who becomes his model
Degas copies Whistler's The White Girl from a
drawing sent by Whistler to Fantin-Latour.
5th Manet sets off on a tour of Spain, planned by
Gauguin enters the Merchant Marine as an apprentice pilot
and makes his first trip on the Luzitano, from
Le Havre to Rio de Janeiro.
14th Baudelaire, now living in Brussels to escape
creditors, offers his portrait by Gourbet to Manet, who is
looking after the poet's interests in Paris. Manet declines
and suggests other potential buyers.
26th Degas copies a Sebastiano del Piombo drawing in
28th Manet has a slight attack of cholera.
Study for Dejeuner sur
In 1865 Monet decided to paint a large picture on the theme Manet
had tackled m his Dejeuner sur I'herbe (p.27). The location he chose
for it was a wood near Marlotte — where he was painting with Bazille,
who served as a model for at least two of the male figures. It was
Monet's most ambitious plan air project to date, but only two
fragments of the finished painting have survived, together with this
Criticism of Manet's Olympia was directed as much against
the 'ugliness' of the model as against its stylistic
It is easy to understand the shock provoked by this
painting when it is compared with the pictures by academic
painters that were habitually hung in the Salon, with their
anonymous faces, contrived poses and total insulation from
REACTIONS TO MANET'S 'OLYMPIA'
The sensation provoked by Olympia at the Salon of 1865 was even
greater than that which had greeted Dejeuner sur I'herbe A - few
critics showing the perspicacity of Zola, who in 1867 published
the following apostrophe to Manet:
For you a picture is but an opportunity for analysis. You wanted
a nude, and you took Olympia, the first to come along; you
wanted bright, luminous patches, and the bouquet provided
them;you wanted black patches, and you added a black woman and a
black cat. What does all this mean? You hardly know, nor do I.
But I know that you succeeded admirably in creating a work of
painting, of great painting, and in translating into a special
language the verities of light and shade, the realities of
persons and things.
EMILE ZOLA, L'Artiste, January 1st, 1867
More common were sentiments such as the following:
What's this yellow-bellied odalisque, this vile model picked up
goodness knows where and representing Olympia?
JULES CLARETIE, L'Artiste, May, 1865
The crowd, as at the morgue, throngs in front of the gamy
'Olympia' and the horrible 'Ecce Homo' of M. Manet.
PAUL DE SAINT-VICTOR, La Presse, May 28th, 1865
'Olympia' can be understood from no point of view, even if you
take it for what it is, a puny model stretched out on a sheet.
The colour of the flesh is dirty, the modelling non-existent.
The shadows are indicated by comparatively large smears of
blacking. What's to be said for the negress, who brings a bunch
of flowers wrapped in some paper, or for the black cat that
leaves its dirty pawmarks on the bed? We would still forgive the
ugliness were it truthful, carefully studied, heightened by some
effect of colour.
The least beautiful woman has bones, muscles, skin, heightened
by some sort of colour. Here
is nothing, we are sorry to say, but the desire to attract
attention at any price.
THEOPHILE GAUTIER, Le Moniteur universe/, June 24th, 1 865
Works by academic painters
by the State at the Salon of 1865.
ZACHARIE ASTRUC Writer and painter
Zacharie Astruc (1833—1907) was the writer, critic, painter and
sculptor whose verses were reproduced in the Salon catalogue entry
for Manet's Olympia. They give some indication of his meagre poetic
Quand, lasse de
songer, Olympia s'eveille,
Le printemps entre аи bras du doux
C'est I'esclave a la nuit amoureuse pareilk,
Qui veut Jeter lejour, de'licieux a voir,
L'auguste jeune fille en
qui laflamme veille.
When, tired of dreams, Olympia wakes up,
Spring enters on the
gentle black messenger's arm.
It is the slave, akin to the
Who wishes to greet the day, delicious to see,
The august young woman in whom the flame keeps watch.
MANET Zacharie Astruc 1866
Astruc's most important creative work
is the statue of The Mask Peddler in the Luxembourg Gardens. His
greatest achievement in the context of Impressionism, however, lies
in the contribution he made to Manet's early career.
The two first met in 1854 or 1855, through Fantin-Latour, and became
close friends — by which time Astruc was already eulogizing 'the new
school' in his writings, paying particular attention to Manet. He
figures in the latter's Music in the Tmleries Gardens and in
Fantin-Latour's A Studio in the Batignolles Quarter, where he is
shown turning towards Manet. In 1866 he introduced Monet to Manet,
and in 1867 was largely responsible for the preface to the catalogue
of the one-man exhibition that Manet staged in a specially built
pavilion near the entrance to the Universal Exhibition. Astruc
exhibited at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, though the
nature of his contribution is not recorded.
Jesus Mocked by the Soldiers
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Carl Nielsen, in full
Carl August Nielsen (born June 9, 1865, Sortelung, near
Norre Lyndelse, Den.—died Oct. 3, 1931, Copenhagen),
violinist, conductor, and Denmark’s foremost composer,
particularly admired as a symphonist.
Nielsen studied at the
Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen from 1884 to 1886.
He was a violinist in the court orchestra at
Copenhagen intermittently from 1886 to 1905.
He subsequently served as Kapellmeister at the Royal
Theatre (1908–14) and conductor of the Copenhagen
Musical Society (1915–27), and from 1915 he taught
at the Royal Conservatory, where he became director
in 1931, shortly before his death.
influenced Nielsen’s early music, but his later
style is a powerful fusion of chromatic and often
dissonant harmony, solid contrapuntal structure,
concentrated motivic treatment, and bold extensions
of tonality with frequent polytonal passages. His
six symphonies, written between 1890 and 1925, are
forceful works that feature decisively articulated
The best known of these symphonies are Symphony No.
2 (1902; The Four Temperaments), Symphony No. 3
(1911; Sinfonia Espansiva), and Symphony No. 4
(1916; The Inextinguishable).
He also wrote three concerti—for violin (1911),
flute (1926), and clarinet (1928); the operas Saul
og David (1902) and Maskarade (1906); four string
quartets, two quintets, and choral and keyboard
works. His songs based on Danish folk traditions are
particularly highly regarded. Nielsen’s writings
include Levende musik (1925; Living Music, 1953) and
Min fynske barndom (1927; My Childhood, 1953).
Aladdin Suite, FS. 89 (1919)
Herbert Blomstedt, San Francisco Symphony
I. Oriental Festive March 02.57
II. Aladdin's Dream and Dance of the Morning Mist 02.48, 02:58
III. Hindu Dance 02.21, 05:46
IV. Chinese Dance 03.27, 08:08
V. The Marketplace in Ispahan 04.22, 11:36
VI. Dance of the Prisoners 03.32, 16:14
VII. Negro Dance 04.33, 19:46
Konstantinovich Glazunov (Russian: Алекса́ндр
Константи́нович Глазуно́в, 10 August 1865 – 21 March
1936) was a Russian composer of the late Russian
Romantic period, music teacher and conductor. He served
as director of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory between
1905 and 1928 and was also instrumental in the
reorganization of the institute into the Petrograd
Conservatory, then the Leningrad Conservatory, following
the Bolshevik Revolution. He continued heading the
Conservatory until 1930, though he had left the Soviet
Union in 1928 and did not return. The best known student
under his tenure during the early Soviet years was
Glazunov was significant in
that he successfully reconciled nationalism and
cosmopolitanism in Russian music. While he was the direct
successor to Balakirev's nationalism, he tended more towards
Borodin's epic grandeur while absorbing a number of other
influences. These included Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral
virtuosity, Tchaikovsky's lyricism and Taneyev's
contrapuntal skill. Younger composers such as Prokofiev and
Shostakovich eventually considered his music old-fashioned
while also admitting he remained a composer with an imposing
reputation and a stabilizing influence in a time of
transition and turmoil.
Glazunov by Ilya Repin, 1887
Glazunov was born in Saint Petersburg, the son of a
wealthy publisher. He began studying piano at the
age of nine and began composing at 11. Mily
Balakirev, former leader of the nationalist group
"The Five", recognized Glazunov's talent and brought
his work to the attention of Nikolai
"Casually Balakirev once brought me the composition
of a fourteen- or fifteen-year-old high-school
student, Alexander Glazunov", Rimsky-Korsakov
remembered. "It was an orchestral score written in
childish fashion. The boy's talent was indubitably
clear." Balakirev introduced him to Rimsky-Korsakov
shortly afterwards, in December 1879.
Rimsky-Korsakov premiered this work in 1882, when
Glazunov was 16. Borodin and Stasov, among others,
lavishly praised both the work and its composer.
taught Glazunov as a private student. "His musical
development progressed not by the day, but literally
by the hour", Rimsky-Korsakov wrote. The nature of
their relationship also changed.
By the spring of 1881, Rimsky-Korsakov considered
Glazunov more of a junior colleague than a student.
While part of this development may have been from
Rimsky-Korsakov's need to find a spiritual
replacement for Modest Mussorgsky, who had died that
March, it may have also been from observing his
progress on the first of Glazunov's eight completed
symphonies (he left a ninth unfinished at his
Mentored by Belyayev
More important than this praise was that among the work's
admirers was a wealthy timber merchant and amateur musician,
Mitrofan Belyayev. Belyayev was introduced to Glazunov's
music by Anatoly Lyadov and would take a keen interest in
the teenager's musical future, then extend that interest to
an entire group of nationalist composers. Belyayev took
Glazunov on a trip to Western Europe in 1884. Glazunov met
Liszt in Weimar, where Glazunov's First Symphony was
1884, Belyayev rented out a hall and hired an orchestra to
play Glazunov's First Symphony plus an orchestral suite
Glazunov had just composed. Buoyed by the success of the
rehearsal, Belyayev decided the following season to give a
public concert of works by Glazunov and other composers.
This project grew into the Russian Symphony Concerts, which
were inaugurated during the 1886–1887 season.
In 1885 Belyayev started
his own publishing house in Leipzig, Germany, initially
publishing music by Glazunov, Lyadov, Rimsky-Korsakov and
Borodin at his own expense. Young composers started
appealing for his help. To help select from their offerings,
Belyayev asked Glazunov to serve with Rimsky-Korsakov and
Lyadov on an advisory council. The group of composers that
formed eventually became known at the Belyayev Circle.
Glazunov soon enjoyed international acclaim. He had
a creative crisis in 1890–1891. He came out of this
period with a new maturity. During the 1890s he
wrote three symphonies, two string quartets and a
ballet. When he was elected director of the Saint
Petersburg Conservatory in 1905, he was at the
height of his creative powers. His best works from
this period are considered his Eighth Symphony and
his Violin Concerto. This was also the time of his
greatest international acclaim. He conducted the
last of the Russian Historical Concerts in Paris on
17 May 1907, and received honorary Doctor of Music
degrees from the universities of Oxford and
Cambridge. There were also cycles of all-Glazunov
concerts in Saint Petersburg and Moscow to celebrate
his 25th anniversary as a composer.
Glazunov made his conducting debut in 1888. The
following year, he conducted his Second Symphony in
Paris at the World Exhibition. He was appointed
conductor for the Russian Symphony Concerts in 1896.
In March of that year he conducted the posthumous
premiere of Tchaikovsky's student overture The
Storm. In 1897, he led the disastrous premiere of
Rachmaninoff's Symphony No 1. This catalysed
Rachmaninoff's three year depression. The composer's
wife later claimed that Glazunov seemed to be drunk
at the time. While this assertion cannot be
confirmed, it is not implausible for a man who,
according to Shostakovich, kept a bottle of alcohol
hidden behind his desk and sipped it through a tube
Drunk or not,
Glazunov had insufficient rehearsal time with the
symphony and, while he loved the art of conducting,
he never fully mastered it.
From time to time he conducted
his own compositions, especially the ballet Raymonda, even
though he may have known he had no talent for it. He would
sometimes joke, "You can criticize my compositions, but you
can't deny that I am a good conductor and a remarkable
Despite the hardships he
suffered during World War I and the ensuing Russian Civil
War, Glazunov remained active as a conductor. He conducted
concerts in factories, clubs and Red Army posts. He played a
prominent part in the Russian observation in 1927 of the
centenary of Beethoven's death, as both speaker and
conductor. After he left Russia, he conducted an evening of
his works in Paris in 1928. This was followed by engagements
in Portugal, Spain, France, England, Czechoslovakia, Poland,
the Netherlands, and the United States.
In 1899, Glazunov became a professor at the Saint
Petersburg Conservatory. In the wake of the 1905
Russian Revolution and firing, then re-hiring of
Rimsky-Korsakov that year, Glazunov became its
director. He remained so until the revolutionary
events of 1917, which culminated on 7 November. His
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B major, Op. 100, which he
conducted, was premiered at the first concert held
in Petrograd after that date. After the end of World
War I, he was instrumental in the reorganization of
the Conservatory—this may, in fact, have been the
main reason he waited so long to go into exile.
During his tenure he worked tirelessly to improve
the curriculum, raise the standards for students and
staff, as well as defend the institute's dignity and
autonomy. Among his achievements were an opera
studio and a students' philharmonic
orchestra.Glazunov showed paternal concern for the
welfare of needy students, such as Dmitri
Shostakovich and Nathan Milstein. He also personally
examined hundreds of students at the end of each
academic year, writing brief comments on each.
While Glazunov's sobriety could be
questioned, his prestige could not. Because of his reputation, the
Conservatory received special status among institutions of higher
learning in the aftermath of the October Revolution. Glazunov
established a sound working relationship with the Bolshevik regime,
especially with Anatoly Lunacharsky, the minister of education.
Nevertheless, Glazunov's conservatism was attacked within the
Conservatory. Increasingly, professors demanded more progressive
methods, and students wanted greater rights. Glazunov saw these
demands as both destructive and unjust. Tired of the Conservatory,
he took advantage of the opportunity to go abroad in 1928 for the
Schubert centenary celebrations in Vienna. He did not return.
Maximilian Steinberg ran the Conservatory in his absence until
Glazunov finally resigned in 1930.
Glazunov toured Europe and the United States in 1928, and settled in
Paris by 1929. He always claimed that the reason for his continued
absence from Russia was "ill health"; this enabled him to remain a
respected composer in the Soviet Union, unlike Stravinsky and
Rachmaninoff, who had left for other reasons. In 1929, he conducted
an orchestra of Parisian musicians in the first complete electrical
recording of The Seasons. In 1934, he wrote his Saxophone Concerto,
a virtuoso and lyrical work for the alto saxophone.
In 1929, at age 64, Glazunov married the 54-year-old Olga
Nikolayevna Gavrilova (1875–1968). The previous year, Olga's
daughter Elena Gavrilova had been the soloist in the first Paris
performance of his Piano Concerto No. 2 in B major, Op. 100. He
subsequently adopted Elena (she is sometimes referred to as his
stepdaughter), and she then used the name Elena Glazunova. In 1928,
Elena had married the pianist Sergei Tarnowsky, who managed
Glazunov's professional and business affairs in Paris, such as
negotiating his United States appearances with Sol Hurok. Elena
later appeared as Elena Gunther-Glazunova after her second marriage,
to Herbert Gunther (1906–1978).
Glazunov died in Neuilly-sur-Seine (near Paris) at the age of 70 in
1936. The announcement of his death shocked many. They had long
associated Glazunov with the music of the past rather than of the
present, so they thought he had already been dead for many years.
Paul Abraham Dukas
(French: [dyka]; 1 October 1865 – 17 May 1935) was a
French composer, critic, scholar and teacher. A studious
man, of retiring personality, he was intensely
self-critical, and he abandoned and destroyed many of
his compositions. His best known work is the orchestral
piece The Sorcerer's Apprentice (L'apprenti sorcier),
the fame of which has eclipsed that of his other
surviving works. Among these are the opera Ariane et
Barbe-bleue, a symphony, two substantial works for solo
piano, and a ballet, La Péri.
At a time when French
musicians were divided into conservative and progressive
factions, Dukas adhered to neither but retained the
admiration of both. His compositions were influenced by
composers including Beethoven, Berlioz, Franck, d'Indy and
In tandem with his
composing career, Dukas worked as a music critic,
contributing regular reviews to at least five French
journals. Later in his life he was appointed professor of
composition at the Conservatoire de Paris and the École
Normale de Musique; his pupils included Maurice Duruflé,
Olivier Messiaen, Manuel Ponce, and Joaquín Rodrigo.
Life and career
Dukas was born in Paris, the second son in a Jewish family
of three children. His father, Jules Dukas, was a banker,
and his mother, Eugénie, was a capable pianist. When Dukas
was five years old, his mother died giving birth to her
third child, Marguerite-Lucie. Dukas took piano lessons, but
showed no unusual musical talent until he was 14 when he
began to compose while recovering from an illness. He
entered the Conservatoire de Paris at the end of 1881, aged
16, and studied piano with Georges Mathias, harmony with
Théodore Dubois and composition with Ernest Guiraud. Among
his fellow students was Claude Debussy, with whom Dukas
formed a close friendship. Two early overtures survive from
this period, Goetz de Berlichingen (1883) and Le Roi Lear
(1883). The manuscript of the latter was rediscovered in the
1990s and the work was performed for the first time in 1995.
Dukas won several prizes,
including the second place in the Conservatoire's most
prestigious award, the Prix de Rome, for his cantata Velléda
in 1888. Disappointed at his failure to win the top prize,
he left the Conservatoire in 1889. After compulsory military
service he began a dual career as a composer and a music
Dukas's career as a critic began in 1892 with a
review of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted
by Gustav Mahler at Covent Garden in London. His
review was published in La Revue Hebdomadaire; he
later wrote also for Minerva, La Chronique des Arts,
Gazette des Beaux-Arts and Le Courrier Musical.
His Parisian debut as composer was a performance of
his overture Polyeucte, written in 1891 and
premiered by Charles Lamoureux and his Orchestre
Lamoureux in January 1892. Based on a tragedy by
Corneille, the work, like many French works of the
period, shows the influence of Wagner, but is
coherent and displays some individuality.
Although Dukas wrote a fair amount of music, he was
a perfectionist and destroyed many of his pieces out
of dissatisfaction with them. Only a few of his
compositions remain. After Polyeucte, he began
writing an opera in 1892. He wrote his own libretto,
Horn et Riemenhild, but he composed only one act, "realising
too late that the work's developments were more
literary than musical".
The Symphony in C
major was composed in 1895–96, when Dukas was in his
early 30s. It is dedicated to Paul Vidal, and had
its first performance in January 1896, under the
direction of the dedicatee. In a study of Dukas
published towards the end of the composer's life,
Irving Schwerké wrote, "The work … is an opulent
expression of modernism in classical form.
Its ideational luxuriance,
nobility of utterance and architectural solidity mark it as
one of the most conspicuous achievements of contemporaneous
writing, and magnificently refute the generally prevalent
notion that no French composer has ever produced a great
symphony." Like Franck's only symphony, Dukas's is in three
movements rather than the conventional four. Schwerké wrote
Expressed in an individual
and spontaneous idiom, the Symphony in C gives free play to
the author's creative spirit and to his fund of exalted
emotion. The high-spirited, impetuous first movement,
Allegro non troppo vivace is intensely rhythmic. Its logical
structure, strong thematic material, polyphonic richness and
virile instrumentation combine to create an exhilarating
effect of life and pageant color. The second movement,
Andante, in sharp contrast to the first, reveals the perfect
finish of the composer's style and the ineffable charm of
his melody. The robust last movement, Allegro spiritoso, so
verdant in instrumentation, brings the symphony to a
The work received a mixed
reception at its first performance. Désiré-Émile
Inghelbrecht, later known as a conductor, was a member of
the orchestra at the premiere, and wrote, "the work which
nowadays seems to us so lucid aroused not only the
protestations of the public, but also those of the musicians
of the orchestra." The symphony was better received when the
Lamoureux Orchestra revived it in 1902.
The symphony was followed
by another orchestral work, by far the best known of Dukas's
compositions, his scherzo for orchestra, L'apprenti sorcier
(The Sorcerer's Apprentice) (1897), a short piece (lasting
for between 10 and 12 minutes in performance) based on
Goethe's poem "Der Zauberlehrling". During Dukas's lifetime
The Musical Quarterly commented that the world fame of the
work not only overshadowed all other compositions by Dukas,
but also eclipsed Goethe's original poem. The popularity of
the piece became a matter of irritation to Dukas. In 2011,
the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians observed, "The
popularity of L'apprenti sorcier and the exhilarating film
version of it in Disney's Fantasia possibly hindered a
fuller understanding of Dukas, as that single work is far
better known than its composer."
20th century works
In the decade after L'apprenti sorcier, Dukas
completed two complex and technically demanding
large-scale works for solo piano: the Piano Sonata
(1901), dedicated to Saint-Saëns, and Variations,
Interlude and Finale on a Theme by Rameau (1902). In
Dukas's piano works critics have discerned the
influence of Beethoven, or, "Beethoven as he was
interpreted to the French mind by César Franck".
There are also two smaller works for piano solo. The
Sonata, described by the critic Edward Lockspeiser
as "huge and somewhat recondite", did not enter the
mainstream repertoire, but it has been more recently
championed by such pianists as Marc-André Hamelin
and Margaret Fingerhut. Lockspeiser describes the
Rameau Variations as more developed and assured ...
Dukas infuses the conventional form with a new and
In 1899 Dukas turned
once again to operatic composition. His second
attempt, L'arbre de science, was abandoned,
incomplete, but in the same year he began work on
his one completed opera, Ariane et Barbe-bleue (Ariadne
The work is a setting of a
libretto by Maurice Maeterlinck. The author had intended the
libretto to be set by Grieg but in 1899 he offered it to
Dukas. Dukas worked on it for seven years and it was
produced at the Opéra-Comique in 1907. The opera has often
been compared to Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande which was
first performed while Dukas was writing Ariane et
Barbe-bleue. Not only are both works settings of
Maeterlinck, but there are musical similarities; Dukas even
quotes from the Debussy work in his score. Although it won
considerable praise, its success was overshadowed by the
Paris premiere of Richard Strauss's sensational opera Salome
at much the same time. None the less, within a short time of
its premiere, Dukas's opera was produced in Vienna, where it
aroused much interest in Schoenberg's circle, and in
Frankfurt, Milan and New York. It did not maintain a regular
place in the repertory, despite the advocacy of Arturo
Toscanini, who conducted it in New York three years in
succession, and Sir Thomas Beecham, who pronounced it "one
of the finest lyrical dramas of our time," and staged it at
Covent Garden in 1937. Interest in it revived in the 1990s,
with productions in Paris (Théâtre du Châtelet, 1990) and
Hamburg (Staatsoper, 1997), and at the Opéra Bastille in
Paris in 2007.
Dukas's last major work was the sumptuous oriental ballet La
Péri (1912). Described by the composer as a "poème dansé" it
depicts a young Persian prince who travels to the ends of
the Earth in a quest to find the lotus flower of
immortality, coming across its guardian, the Péri (fairy).
Because of the very quiet opening pages of the ballet score,
the composer added a brief "Fanfare pour précéder La Peri"
which gave the typically noisy audiences of the day time to
settle in their seats before the work proper began. La Péri
was written for the Russian-French dancer Natalia Trouhanova,
who starred in the first performance at the Châtelet in
1912. Diaghilev planned a production with his Ballets Russes
but the production did not take place; the company's
choreographer Fokine staged L'apprenti sorcier as a ballet
In 1916, Dukas married
Suzanne Pereyra (1883-1947), who was of Portuguese descent.
They had one child, a daughter Adrienne-Thérèse, born in
In the last years of his life, Dukas became well
known as a teacher of composition. When
Charles-Marie Widor retired as professor of
composition at the Paris Conservatoire in 1927,
Dukas was appointed in his place. He also taught at
the École Normale de Musique in Paris. His many
students included Jehan Alain, Elsa Barraine, Yvonne
Desportes, Francis Chagrin, Carlos Chávez, Maurice
Duruflé, Georges Hugon, Jean Langlais, Olivier
Messiaen, Manuel Ponce, Joaquín Rodrigo, David Van
Vactor and Xian Xinghai. As a teacher he was
conservative but always encouraging of talent,
telling one student, "It's obvious that you really
love music. Always remember that it should be
written from the heart and not with the head." He
said his method of teaching was "to help young
musicians to express themselves in accordance with
their own natures. Music necessarily has to express
something; it is also obliged to express somebody,
namely, its composer." Grove observes that his wide
knowledge of the history of European music, and his
editorial work on Rameau, Scarlatti and Beethoven,
gave him "particular authority in teaching
After La Péri, Dukas
completed no new large-scale compositions, although,
as with his contemporary Jean Sibelius, there were
frequent reports of major work in hand.
After several years of
silence, in 1920 he produced a tribute to his friend Debussy
in the form of La plainte, au loin, du faune... for piano,
which was followed by Amours, a setting of a sonnet by
Pierre de Ronsard, for voice and piano, published in 1924 to
mark the four hundredth anniversary of the poet's birth.
Shortly before his death he had been working on a symphonic
poem inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, a play of which
he had made a French translation in 1918 with an operatic
version in mind.
the last year of his life Dukas was elected to membership of
the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Though adhering to neither the
progressive or conservative factions among French musicians
of the era, Dukas had the friendship and respect of both. In
1920, Vincent d'Indy published a study of Dukas's music;
Debussy remained a lifelong friend, though feeling that
Dukas's music was not French enough; Saint-Saëns worked with
Dukas to complete an unfinished opera by Guiraud, and they
were both engaged in the rediscovery and editing of the
works of Jean-Philippe Rameau; Fauré dedicated his Second
Piano Quintet to Dukas in 1921.
Dukas died in Paris in
1935, aged 69. He was cremated and his ashes were placed in
the columbarium at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
L'Africaine (The African Woman) is a grand opera, the last work of
. The French libretto was written by Eugène Scribe. The opera is about fictitious events in the life of
the real historical person Vasco da Gama. (Meyerbeer's working title
for the opera was Vasco da Gama.)
The opera was premiered by the Paris Opéra at the Salle Le Peletier
on 28 April 1865 in a performing edition undertaken by
François-Joseph Fétis, as the composer had not prepared a final
version by the time of his death the previous year. It is Fétis who
gave the work its present title; Meyerbeer had referred to it as
Vasco de Gama. In fact it is clear from the text, with its
references to Hinduism, that the heroine Sélika hails not from
Africa, but from a region of, or island nearby, India. Madagascar
has been suggested as a compromise reconciliation. Gabriela Cruz has
published a detailed analysis of the historical context of the
events of the opera and the opera setting itself.
Meyerbeer was working on the score from 1854 to 1855, and had
intended the role of Sélika for the soprano Sophie Cruvelli, but
Cruvelli's abrupt retirement from the public stage in January 1856
interrupted his plans.
The work had its British premiere at Covent Garden Theatre,
London, on 22 July 1865, and in New York on 1 December 1865. It also
received its Italian premiere in 1865 in Bologna, conducted by
Angelo Mariani and was staged four times at La Fenice between 1868
and 1892. It was also performed in Melbourne, Australia, in July
The four principal singers at the premiere, from left to
right: Naudin, Battu, Sasse, Faure
The opera was enormously successful in the 19th century, but
today it is rarely revived. Plácido Domingo has sung it in at least
two productions: a revival at the War Memorial Opera House in San
Francisco that premiered on November 13, 1973; and in 1977 at the
Liceu in Barcelona, with Montserrat Caballé. To mark the 150th
anniversary of Meyerbeer's death, the work was performed again at La
Fenice in November 2013. Most modern performances and recordings are
severely cut to give prominence to the parts of da Gama and Sélika,
and therefore they cannot give a full idea of the composer's
conception, which in any case has been to some extent obscured by
the version prepared by Fétis.
In 2013, Meyerbeer's original version in a new critical edition
by Jürgen Schläder (de) was performed by Chemnitz Opera under the
original title Vasco de Gama.[ The production was a success with
audiences and critics and won the poll of German critics award
presented by Opernwelt magazine annually as "Rediscovery of the
year" in 2013.
The best known part of the opera is the act 4 tenor aria "Pays
merveilleux ... O, paradis", which has been recorded many times.
Jean Sibelius, original name Johan
Julius Christian Sibelius (born Dec. 8, 1865, Hämeenlinna, Fin.—died
Sept. 20, 1957, Järvenpää), Finnish composer, the most noted
symphonic composer of Scandinavia.
Sibelius studied at the Finnish
Normal School, the first Finnish-speaking school in Russian-held
Finland, where he came into contact with Finnish literature and in
particular with the Kalevala, the mythological epic of Finland,
which remained for him a constant source of inspiration. (Many of
his symphonic poems, such as Pohjola’s Daughter  and Luonnotar
, drew on this source.) Although intended for a legal career,
he soon abandoned his law studies at Helsinki, devoting himself
entirely to music.
At first he planned to become a violinist. Under
the guidance of Martin Wegelius he composed much chamber and
instrumental music. He adopted the name Jean, which he used
throughout his professional career in preference to his baptismal
names. In his mid-20s he left Finland to continue his studies in
Berlin and Vienna, where his teachers included the composers Robert
Fuchs and Karl Goldmark.
On his return to Finland a
performance of his first large-scale orchestral work, the Kullervo
Symphony (1892), created something of a sensation. This and
succeeding works, En Saga (1892), the Karelia music, and the Four
Legends, established him as Finland’s leading composer. The third of
the four symphonic poems in Four Legends is the well-known The Swan
of Tuonela (1893). In 1897, before the appearance of his Symphony
No. 1 in E Minor (1899), the Finnish Senate voted Sibelius a small
life pension in recognition of his genius.
His tone poem Finlandia
was written in 1899 and revised in 1900.
Sibelius’ compositions of
the 1890s are those of a nationalist composer working in the
Romantic tradition. In the first decade of the 20th
century Sibelius’ fame penetrated the European continent.
pianist-composer Ferruccio Busoni, whose friendship he had made in
Helsinki as a student, conducted his Symphony No. 2 in D Major
(1901) in Berlin, and the British composer Granville Bantock
commissioned his Symphony No. 3 in C Major (1907).
With this work Sibelius turned his back on the national romanticism of the second
symphony and the Violin Concerto in D Minor (1903) and moved toward
the more searching and uncompromising mode of utterance of En Saga
and the Symphony No. 4 in A Minor (1911). After World War I he
published his greatest works, the last three symphonies (No. 5 in
E-flat Major, No. 6 in D Minor, and No. 7 in C Major) and Tapiola
(1925) but then lapsed into the long silence of his last years.
Rumours of an eighth symphony (promised for performance in the early
1930s) and even a ninth symphony were unfounded. No manuscripts
survived his death.
The 1930s saw a vogue for Sibelius
prompted by such writers as Cecil Gray and Constant Lambert in
England and Olin Downes in the United States. Despite a reaction
against this vogue in the following generation, Sibelius retained
his firm hold over the musical public. Although his inspiration is
intimately connected with the Scandinavian landscape, it is not
primarily as a nature poet that he is remembered. His achievement
both in the symphonic poems and the seven symphonies lies
principally in his remarkable mastery of form. The first movement of
the third symphony has the clarity of construction of a Haydn or
Mozart first movement, yet its organic unity and architecture even
surpasses its models. It was in this capacity for organic growth
that the secret of his genius lay.
Finlandia, Op. 26 is a symphonic poem by the Finnish composer Jean
Sibelius. The first version was written in 1899, and it was revised
in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899,
a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian
Empire, as the last of seven pieces, each performed as an
accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history.
The premiere was on 2 July 1900 in Helsinki with the Helsinki
Philharmonic Society conducted by Robert Kajanus. A typical
performance takes anywhere from 7½ to 9 minutes.
A recurrent joke within Finland at this time was the renaming of
Finlandia at various musical concerts so as to avoid Russian
censorship. Titles under which the piece masqueraded were numerous,
a famously flippant example being Happy Feelings at the awakening of
Most of the piece is taken up with rousing and turbulent music,
evoking the national struggle of the Finnish people. But towards the
end, a calm comes over the orchestra, and the serenely melodic
Finlandia Hymn is heard. Often incorrectly cited as a traditional
folk melody, the Hymn section is of Sibelius's own creation.
Although initially composed for orchestra, in 1900 Sibelius
arranged the entire work for solo piano.
Sibelius later reworked the Finlandia Hymn into a stand-alone
piece. This hymn, with words written in 1941 by Veikko Antero
Koskenniemi, is one of the most important national songs of Finland
(though Maamme is the national anthem). With different words, it is
also sung as a Christian hymn (Be Still, My Soul), and was the
national anthem of the short-lived African state of Biafra (Land of
the Rising Sun).
Wild Scandinavia / Wildes Skandinavien / (2011)
Directors: Oliver Goetzl
Writers: Oliver Goetzl
Cinematography: Ivo Nörenberg, Jan Henriksson and Rolf Steinmann
Tristan und Isolde
(Tristan and Isolde,
or Tristan and Isolda, or Tristran and Ysolt) is an opera, or music
drama, in three acts by
to a German libretto by the
composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg.
It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10
June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the
work not as an opera, but called it "eine Handlung" (literally a
drama. a plot or an action), which was the equivalent of the term
used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas.
Wagner's composition of Tristan und
Isolde was inspired by the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer
(particularly The World as Will and Representation) and his affair
with Mathilde Wesendonck. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of
the operatic repertoire, Tristan was notable for Wagner's
unprecedented use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and
The opera was enormously
influential among Western classical composers and provided direct
inspiration to composers such as Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss,
Karol Szymanowski, Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg and Benjamin
Britten. Other composers like Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Igor
Stravinsky formulated their styles in contrast to Wagner's musical
legacy. Many see Tristan as the beginning of the move away from
common practice harmony and tonality and consider that it lays the
groundwork for the direction of classical music in the 20th century.
Both Wagner's libretto style and music were also profoundly
influential on the Symbolist poets of the late 19th century and
early 20th century.
Wagner - Tristan und Isolde
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra: Berliner Philarmoniker
Vocal: H. Dernesch, J. Vickers, C. Ludwig, W. Berry